There is very little account about women in the civil war given that war was mainly considered a man’s affair. As was the case with all other wars fought in the era that American civil war took place, women were forbidden from enlisting in the army. A woman’s place during the American civil war and all other battles, in regards to reconciliation, was in the homes nurturing the household as well as offering the much needed moral support. This is the main reason why the Union forces and the Confederate army prohibited women from enlisting. Yet, women who really wanted to serve in the war as nurses realized that it was next to impossible to be accepted. Nonetheless, in spite of the forbearance, biasness and at times utter censure, there are a number of women who managed to discover means to play a role during the civil war.
This article discusses into detail the women in the civil war which most historical books about the American bloodiest war have ignored to capture.
Perhaps the best account of the women in the civil war is the number of nurses who served both the Union forces and Confederate army. It is estimated that roughly over 2000 women volunteered to work as nurses attending to injured soldiers in military hospitals set up by the Union and Confederate forces. Their work saw these women being exposed to a myriad of horrors that come with serving in a war, for example, death, ailments, severed body parts and mutilation amongst others. These horrors were part of the reason why women were not allowed to serve in the civil war.
One of the women in the civil war who is still remembered to date is Mary Edwards Walker. She went an extra mile to become one of the few surgeons who served during the war. After the war, she was honored for her service by being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. She was the only woman to be honored for her role in the civil war.
Regrettably, there are only a handful of women in the civil war who managed to record their encounters. However, Clara Barton who was one of the women in the civil war who recorded her account of the war spoke of the horrors of seeing people die in various battle fields. She vividly remembered the way bullets use to whizz over their tents and artillery fire exploding close to their medical camp while tending to wounded soldiers who served for the union forces. In addition to nursing the wounds of injured soldiers, she spoke of the way they prepared food and gave suffering fighters water. At one point while bending down to offer one of the wounded soldiers water a bullet shot via her sleeve missing her by inches only to kill the fighter she was offering water.
Women soldiers in the civil war
While a number of historical books talk of women who served as nurses and nursing corps, there were also women in the civil war who served as fighters and women civil war spies.