Most women in today’s culture dont really understand how it was to be a woman during the Civil War. In the Civil War, women all around were involved left and right. From women how were politicians wives to women who were nurses and there were even women who were spies and even women how were disguises as men, the women of both the Union and the Confederacy were involved in it all.
Dorothea Dix was a well known activist who was against people treating people who were insane medically or insane criminally so badly. She was also the one who is given credit for creating the mental asylums in the United States. Her devotion to the mental ill led to a widespread reform in the States. However, during the Civil War, she was the Superintendent of the Army Nurses for all of the Union. She was a smart and independent women and that made her a perfect pick for the job. Dixs first thing that she did for them was set up a strict guideline for nurses who worked on army soldiers. Her main goal was to make it to where the less attractive women went out on the front lines. The women had to be 30 years of age and plain looking. Dorothea Dixs failure in this position was part of her traditional beliefs about what certain genders do, and what they are supposed do on her administrative policy as Superintendent of Nurses.
Rose ONeal Greenhow was a well known Confederate spy during the Civil War. Jefferson Davis, former president of the Confederate States, said that she was so good at her job that she is the reason that the Confederate won at the First Battle of Bull Run. She started her work as a spy by just sending information to the Confederates, then as time went on, she was in charge of the spy ring for the Confederacy.
However, in August of 1861, Rose was put on house arrest by the Union because the Union suspected her. Before she was arrested, Rose tore up the information that would be the information that the Union needed to arrest her. After days of searching, they found the tore up documents and pasted them back together and found what they needed to charge her. Then, she was put in prison for the work that she did. Rose only stayed in prison for a little while. After she got pout, she moved to Virginia to do more work for the Confederates.
In 1863, Davis sends Rose to Europe to convince the leaders in England and in France to join the Confederates in the fight for their independence. She was just as popular in Europe then she was in Washington. She then got her book published called My Imprisonment and the First Year of Abolition Rule at Washington,which sold really well. Rose did not succeed in getting the Europeans to join, however, she sdi get them to donated money for them during the war.
Rose was so loyal to the Confederate that she died for them. In 1864, Rose decide to come back to the States. She was almost to her final destination when she boarded the Condor, a Confederate ship. While she was on this ship, A ship that belonged to the Union came along. So Rose asked to be sent to shore by a small boat. In the storm, The boat flipped and Rose Greenhow drowned. The other people on board survived. Rose, however, had the gold that the Europeans gave her sewn into her dress that she was wearing and the weight of the gold caused her to be taken to the bottom. The Women of the Confederacy still honor her grave today.
Belle Boyd was also a confederate spy. She was better at tempting the Union soldiers than anything else. Belle Boyd became a spy for the Confederacy because she knew that she was attractive and that she would be able to get the the Union men using her looks. She used her parents hotel which was located in Martinsburg located in the Shenandoah Valley. as a place that she could take the men to get the information. On many occasions, Belle was called different names like the Cleopatra of the Secession and the Siren of the Shenandoah because of her charm that she had on men.
The first thing that she did as a Confederate spy was when Union soldiers came to her house because they had heard that she had equipment that belonged to the Confederacy. When a soldier from the Union disrespected her mother, Belle shot him and killed him. She was not charged with murder the union placed soldiers outside her home to keep her inside. Some of those soldiers she wooed and got information that was of use to the Confederacy. However, when she tried to send out the information to the Confederacy, she got caught. Then was simply tried harder and was able to sneak around to the Confederates side and did whatever she was told to do.
She was in prison a lot for being a spy, but afterward she moved to England. There she became a celebrity.While she was there she married a Union office named Lieutenant Samuel Wylde Hardinge. After their wedding, Belle convinced him to become a Confederate spy. He was captured and put into prison. Belle became an actress and had many more marriages. She took a tour of the United States and told her stories of her time being a spy. Belle even wrote a book telling the stories of her experience. It was called Belle Boyd in Camp and Prison. At age 56 Belle died of a heart attack.
Louisa May Alcott was very important during the Civil War. She was a dedicated nurse, she worked really hard. Louisa had really bad working conditions in the hospital that she was stationed too.When she turned thirty is when she decided to help in the war effort. Louisa was under the authority of Dorothea Dix on the nursing staff. She only worked as a nurse for six weeks because she caught a bad case of typhoid fever and had to return home. However, her time there was not wasted. She had to experience the curality to war without fighting in it. One man came in covered with mud and his face was covered in black smoke from the war. Louisa also learned of the horrible things that were happening outside because while she was comforting the soldiers they were sharing their experiences. In her book Hospital Sketches And Camp and Fireside Stories that she wrote in 1863, she talks about her different experiences as a nurse there. When she got sick and had to leave, it affected her for the rest of her life. However, she continued to write her stories and is now a famous author. In March of 1888, two days after her fathers died, Louisa May Alcott died because her health had only gotten worse since the war, leaving behind several books for young women that are still popular even though they were written so long ago.
Finally, Frances Clalin was a major part of the Civil War because she dressed herself as a Union soldier. She decided that she wanted to help the war effort by actually fighting in the War. Frances left behind her whole life and hid old pictures of herself and she became Francis Clayton.
After she enlisted she had to do things to keep them from accepting her to be a women. For example, she kept her hair short, chewed tobacco, drank, swore, smoked cigars, and gambled. She was a perfect soldier, she cared about her country. Hert husband, John, enlisted with her and they fought side by side. When her husband was killed, she was right beside him. She was so brave that she stepped over him and kept on fighting.
In 1863, Frances was released because of her injury and she kept her disguise the whole time that she was enlisted. While she was recovering, Frances attempted to return to the army, apparently to get money that she and John earned, but maybe so that she could get a position in the army. In Louisville, the provost marshal found her, ordering her to return home. It was last heard Clalin was traveling to Washington, D.C., but there is nothing about what happened to her after that.
All of these women have contributed to the Civil War one way or another. Each of them had to go through things that no woman know a days will ever go through. Some even gave up their true identities simply because they loved their country.
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