The Role Women Played During The Civil War

3203 words - 13 pages


              THE ROLE WOMEN PLAYED DURING THE CIVIL WAR                       
Brendan Kyek  HIS­223­X2297: Modern War & Society  Final Narrative Paper  December 10, 2014       



Throughout  the  centuries  the  role  of  women  have  been  primarily  the  same.  Most  were  homemakers  or  housewives  and  kept  up  the  house,  cleaned,  cooked,  gave   birth  to  and  raised  children and did things like sowing. During the American Civil War, however,  we can look back  and  see  that  women  stepped   out  of  this  traditional  role  and  put  themselves  in  harms  way  to  support  either  the  Union  or  the  Confederacy.  Many  ...view middle of the document...

 Women of both sides proved to be very adept  at  the  second  oldest  profession.  Due,  in   part,  to  the  double  standard  of  the time it made sense to  employ  women  as  spies.  Men  caught  engaging  in  any  kind  of  espionage  were  often  shot  or  hanged1. 


 Samuelson, Nancy B. "Employment of Female Spies in the American Civil War." Minerva 7, no. 3 (Dec 31, 1989):  57, (accessed 



Harriet  Tubman,  born  Araminta  Ross 2,   who  was  more  notably  known  for  her  work  with  the  underground railroad, served as a nurse, scout, commander, and resettlement  agent during the  Civil  War.3  Not  only  was  she  one  of  a  small  number  of women to serve in the war, she was also  one  of  an  even  smaller  number  of  African  American  women  to   serve  in  the  Civil  War. Her role  as  a  spy  was  to  create  a  network  of  African American spies throughout the South Carolina slave  population  to  report  back  to  Union  forces.  But  this  wasn’t  her  most  notable  accomplishment  during  the  war.  In  June  1863,  Harriet  Tubman  became  the  first  woman to command and  lead an  armed  military  raid.   This  raid  was well executed and liberated more than 750 slaves4. Despite all  the  accomplishments  Harriet  Tubman  made  before  and  during  the  war,  she   was  still  an  African  American women. This is evident by the following quote:: 
As  she  traveled  home   to  Auburn,   New  York,  by  train  with  a  military  government  pass,  a  White  conductor,  assisted  by  two  or  three  others,  dragged  her  off  the  train.  She  resisted  and  was  severely  injured  by  both  the  physical force and the racial insults. The war had ended, yet her dignity was still being challenged5 

  Another  notable  women  spy  of  the  Civil  War  was  Rose  O’Neal  Greenhow.  Before  the  war  started  she  had  developed  strong  friendships  and  connections  with  powerful  people  in  Washington  and  the  North.  She  had  personally  known  nine  presidents  and  her  close  friendship  with  president  James  Buchanan  had  on  occasion  raised  Washington  eyebrows6.  Just  before  the  war  started  it  was  no  secret  that  her  allegiance  rests  with  the  South  but  this  did  not  end  her  friendships  or  disconnect  from  those in the North like most other Southern sympathizers. Instead 


 Crewe, Sandra E. "Harriet Tubman: Peacemaker and Stateswomen." Affilia 21, no. 2 (Apr 12, 2006): 229  , (accessed 11/21/2013).  3  Ibid 230.  4  Crewe, "Harriet Tubman: Peacemaker and Stateswomen." 231  5  Ibid  6  Samualson, “Employment of Female Spies in the American Civil War” 



she  openly  consorted  with  Northerners  and  deliberately  began  collecting  valuable  intelligence7. ...

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