4th OVI Co. B



Women at War

In the 1860s, around the globe, laws and customs prohibited women from taking part in war.  But in America there was a different attitude.  For generations, women had endured the dangers of the frontier.  They had supported their men in wars against the British, Mexicans, and Native Americans.  In those conflicts, most soldiers were volunteers.  When they went off to battle, they left the women behind to look after farms, businesses, and communities.  At those times, women were often called on to bear the burden of "men's work" as well as the work traditionally considered their own. 

They proved they were tough.  Men still did not want women to face flying bullets and cannon shot in the Civil War, the battlefield.  Though their numbers were small, women played a role in support work in Union and Confederate government departments.  Some were spies.  While most army nurses were men, women were allowed to serve as hospital volunteers.  Regiments of upper-class soldiers sometimes supported a vivandiĆ©re, a uniformed female mascot who marched with the troops and performed camp chores.  In the North, many women belonged to the Sanitary Commission.  This was an organization that traveled to the field with supplies for soldier relief.

All information came from: Civil War: Discover the war that turned brother against brother-from the birth of the Confederacy to Reconstruction, by: John Stanchack.


         Women during the War
                Confederate Angel

Phoebe Pember is remembered for her selfless work in Confederate army  hospitals around Richmond, Virginia.  Mrs. Pember was a South Carolina widow.  During the war, she kept a journal of her hospital experiences.  Published after the conflict ended, it criticized the Southern governments administration and operation of its hospitals.

Supporting the Troops

Women did traditional wartime tasks: sewing a flag for Union army volunteers.

Hospital Nursing

Northern female nursing volunteers were eventually organized by medical reformer Dorothea Dix.  However, she prohibited them from serving near the front lines. Women who worked as nurses were confined to supervised service in hospitals.  Male nurses bathed the patients and moved them; they also assisted doctors during grisly battlefield surgery.

A Genuine Army Volunteer

Sarah Emma Edmonds, was born in Canada, but was working in the United States when the Civil War broke out.  Disguising herself as a man, she joined a Union army regiment and served without being detected until she became ill.  Rather than have her gender discovered by an army  doctor, Sarah Edmonds deserted.  Following the war, she married, started a family and became the only female member of the Grand army of the Republic, a Union veterans' organization.

                A Dubious Soldier

Loreta Janeta Velazquez was a American Cuban-American descent.  She claimed she had donned a disguise and served in the Confederate army as Lieutenant Harry Budford so that she would be near her soldier-husband.  She also claimed to have been widowed twice during the war and to have served as a spy.  Most veterans found Madame Velazquez's claims outrageous.  Yet the memoirs she titled The Women in Battle, sold well.

     All information came from: Civil War: Discover the war that turned brother against brother-from the birth of the Confederacy to Reconstruction, by: John Stanchack.