Women in the Civil War

Contents

  1. Background
  2. Fighting for the Union
  3. Women of the Confederacy
  4. Slaves and Freedwomen
  5. A Women’s Proper Place?

In many ways, the coming of the Civil War challenged the ideology of Victorian domesticity that had defined the lives of men and women in the antebellum era. In the North and in the South, the war forced women into public life in ways they could scarcely have imagined a generation before.

Background

In the years before the Civil War, the lives of American women were shaped by a set of ideals that historians call “the Cult of True Womanhood.” As men’s work moved away from the home and into shops, offices and factories, the household became a new kind of place: a private, feminized domestic sphere, a “haven in a heartless world.” “True women” devoted their lives to creating a clean, comfortable, nurturing home for their husbands and children.

During the Civil War, however, American women turned their attention to the world outside the home. Thousands of women in the North and South joined volunteer brigades and signed up to work as nurses. It was the first time in American history that women played a significant role in a war effort. By the end of the war, these experiences had expanded many Americans’ definitions of “true womanhood.”

Source Article