The Roles of Women in the Civil War

Women played many roles in the Civil War. Some supported the war effort as nurses and aides, while others took a more upfront approach and secretly enlisted in the army or served as spies and smugglers.

It is speculated that hundreds of women served as spies for the Confederate and Union armies in the Civil War. Women also smuggled supplies, ammunition and medicine across enemy lines by hiding them underneath their large hoop skirts.

Between 2,000 and 5,000 women volunteered as nurses during the war. They cleaned and bandaged wounds, fed soldiers, dispensed medication and assisted surgeons during operations and medical procedures. One of the most famous nurses of the Civil War era was Clara Barton, who showed up at local battlefields armed with medical supplies, which she used to nurse sick and wounded soldiers, earning her the nickname “Angel of the Battlefield.”

Many women participated in war relief efforts, such as sewing circles where they made clothing for soldiers. They also raised money through fundraisers and fairs and bought much needed medical supplies.

Although forbidden to join the military, women also served in the army. In order to fit, the women disguised themselves as men and adopted masculine names.

After the war ended in 1865, many women went back to their traditional roles in society and became wives and mothers.

Source: The Roles of Women in the Civil War
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