Women During The Civil War

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Women have been always classified as weak and obedient since the beginning of history. They were the “creatures” of their own home and were expected to be submissive towards their husbands and focus their time on the family. However, the Civil War changed the traditional roles of women, opening a wide range of possibilities for the female group. These possibilities range from supporting to working in the army. However, where there is always a chance, there are always sacrifices to be made. These brave women of the mid 1800s contributed to the war effort during the Civil War. Many women who knew they were not allowed in the army took another route as a writer to support their beliefs. Clara Barton wrote in her diary, “This conflict is one thing…show more content…
Nurses were jobs for men, however, during the Civil War, the lack of male nurses caused the army to accept female volunteers as nurses. The most well known nurse during the Civil War was Dorothea Dix. The story goes that she went into the office of the surgeon in the army and said: “ I propose to organize under the official auspices of the war department, and Army Nursing Corps made up of women volunteers (Ashby 27).” Her proposal was given thought and soon, she was the superintendent of the women nurses for the U.S. Dorothea Dix interviewed every applicant and was strict on the dress code. No curls, jewelry, hoops or bows were allowed. The nurses were only allowed to wear brown or black skirts and had to be plain looking. Dix worked everyday, declining monthly wages. Women nurses were paid $12 a month while men were paid $20 a month. After the war ended, Dix was asked by the Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, what she wanted in return for her 4 years of service. Her answer: an American flag (Ashby 28). Similar to Dix’s dedication, Clara Barton was dedicated to her work. She left a job as a copyist in the U.S. Patent office to organize the Red Cross. She later became so well known that politicians came to her for her opinion on how to improve medicine in battlefields. Barton became a nurse that tended to wounded soldiers in the middle of the battle. Very few women actually tended to soldiers with a battle raging…show more content…
Spies were very important to both armies as they could decide the outcome of a battle or even the war. Spies were especially important to the Confederate due the shortage of supplies and medicine. Being a spy was dangerous. If they were found out, they were hanged or imprisoned. However, women were able to move about easily without being detected. They were not searched due the belief that only the woman’s doctor and husband can touch her (Harper). The clothing the women wore was also an advantage. Under their dress, there were layers and layers of cloth that could serve as a good hiding place for a small note. Many women hid secret messages and supplies in their hoops. Those who couldn’t afford the expensiveness of steel wire hoops hid their messages and supplies in bags and baskets (Harper). Out of all the spies, the most recognizable name is Elizabeth Van Lew. She was the leader of the Richmond Union spies. It is known that her spy ring, also known as the espionage ring, helped her gain information that helped Ulysses S. Grant lead to victories near the end of the war. Lew even created a code to secure and protect her messages and used invisible ink to write messages between the “normal” letters. This allowed her messages to be concealed until milk was added to the page, causing the ink to become visible (Harper). Mary Elizabeth Bower was part of Lew’s Union of Spies. She

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