Women in the Civil War


By the beginning of the latter half of the 19th century, more rural women were becoming educated, and women everywhere in the United States were being treated with more respect and granted more legal privileges than in the past. They enjoyed these new freedoms, and this is why it should come as no surprise that many of them leapt on the opportunity to contribute to the Civil War in some way. It was the first war fought in the United States where they could have some official role. While there were always unofficial roles in wars for women in times past, this was their first opportunity to openly help their side’s cause. And they did so in large numbers.
Perhaps most surprisingly is that they volunteered to fight in the war as soldiers. While the numbers of female soldiers were not huge, there are around 250 documented women who were Civil War soldiers, and probably many more who were not documented. Women participated in the fighting at every major Civil War battle. Most of the women soldiers joined the war along with a male relative or a husband. Sometimes they volunteered along with their fiancĂ© or sweetheart, to stay closer to them and make sure they were protected. Others joined the army to earn money for their families, while others had a genuine belief in their side’s cause and wanted to do their part to achieve a win. The vast majority of female soldiers dressed up as men and pretended to be men when they joined the army. Their gender was usually only known to the male with whom they joined (if any), and they were typically only discovered to be females if they were injured or killed in battle. This is why it is believed many more women fought as soldiers in the Civil War than are documented… most of them were probably never discovered to be women...