Many women were the spark that lit the fire under husbands, sons,
brothers, and fathers. It was illegal for women to fight in war; they
figured that a woman’s place was at home. But, many women fought in the
Women who wanted to fight would cut their hair, pad
their clothing to make them look more masculine, and enlist under a male
name. They would be looked upon as "fresh faced young boys". Some did
such a good job at hiding their gender that no one knew they were female until
they gave birth. There were two babies born in the Andersonville Prison in
Andersonville, Georgia. But I was unable to find what became of them. Both of
the mothers (Union soldiers) died in the prison and are buried there.
Women who didn't want to enlist or didn't want to
become a nurse could become a spy. To hide important information, all a woman
had to do is use cryptic notes. These notes would be hidden in a bun
of hair or in a petticoat. An example of a spy is Rose O'Neal
Greenhow. She was born in Maryland in 1817. By the first year of the war, 1861,
she was widowed with four daughters. She used her contacts to provide Gen.
Beauregard with information pertaining to the battle of Bull Run, which the
Confederacy claimed. She was imprisoned in the latter part of 1861
and was deported to Richmond in 1862. She was later sent to Europe as a
courier. While in Europe, she found information and headed back to the
Confederacy in 1864. She sailed back on the Condor, a blockade-runner. She
reached the mouth of the Cape Fear River, just outside of North
Carolina. The Condor was then chased by a Union gunship. Fearing capture,
she and two servants fled by a rowboat. She knew that if she was caught again,
her death was certain. Rough waters tipped the small boat over, she
drowned, carrying $2,000 in gold on her person, which weighted her down. Her
body washed ashore a few days later. She was buried with full Confederate
Over 400 women served as nurses for the North and
the South during the war. When most people think of nurses, they seem to think
that all they did was distribute medicine. In many cases the nurses had to
become the doctor and perform surgeries and amputations, all the while giving
stitches, bandages and medicine. An example of a nurse is Clara Barton.
She was born in Massachusetts in 1821. At the age of 15 she became a
teacher. Later, in 1861-she became a nurse for the Union. She served for
three years in Virginia. In 1881, she founded the American Red Cross. She
resigned in 1904 and died at her home in Washington, D.C. on April 12,
1912. The same day as the Titanic sank.
So when we think of all the
men who fought and gave their lives, let's try to remember the women who were
more than willing to do the same.