Women's Roles During the Civil Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

The women whose husbands did serve the pro-Union cause (often Republicans) did not necessarily take over the farm work and other "male tasks" on the farm. Instead, the work was done with the "same kind of neighborhood and extended-kin support" that was in use prior to the Civil War (Rodgers, 112).

Also, many soldiers wrote letters home "…virtually micromanaging their farms from the front," Rodgers continues (113). Wives received a "steady flow of letters" with specific advice not only on how to run the farm, but on "how their children were to behave and be taught," Rodgers explained (113). And moreover, male farm laborers were available to harvest crops, and the women either paid them to harvest the wheat, or she gave them "a percentage of the crop" (Rodgers, 113). As for urban women in Indiana during the Civil War, Rodgers explains that letters between wives and soldiers showed "gossip about the local social scene" and politics, along with romantic passages (114). But like the rural wives left at home, wives of soldiers from the cities received letters with "…a range of instructions" about "running the household, rearing the children" and educating them too (Rodgers, 114).

Women in Indiana -- whose husbands were at war -- engaged in public affairs to a greater degree than they had when husbands were home, Rodgers explains (115). In fact the most common activity for women (urban and rural) was joining "Ladies Aid Societies," groups that provided bandages, clothing, food items, and other needed commodities to Hoosier soldiers in the Union army. Also, the role of women in Indiana involved "fundraising activities for the soldiers and their families"; they produced plays, pageants and other fundraising entertainment, Rodgers continued (116).

While women in Indiana did not generally take over farm work when husbands became soldiers, author Alexis Brown asserts that Southern women took on activities "they had never dreamed of doing… managing slaves, making decisions regarding crops and planting" (Brown, 2000, p. 766). Also the Southern woman in many instances had to provide "nursing and survival skills" in order to deal with battles "…fought at their doorsteps," Brown writes (766). And because the Union army brought the war to the South (the Confederates rarely attacked the north), part of the new role for Southern women was to "…disseminate battle information and support the Southern cause with enthusiasm" (Brown, 766). Women wrote to husbands reporting what battles had taken place in their communities, who won those battles, and what troop movement they had heard about, Brown explains; women became "an acknowledged part of the Confederacy" (767).

In conclusion, there is no one generalized activity that all women (in the north or south) engaged in while husbands were involved in the Civil War. Women in various parts of the country were involved in a variety of ways. But it is clear that whether aiding the soldiers (as nurses, fundraisers, or providers of supplies and intelligence), or keeping the home fires burning and raising the children, women played enormously important roles during the Civil War.

Works Cited

Brown, Alexis Girardin. "The Women Left Behind: Transformation of the Southern Belle,

1840-1880." The Historian. 62.4 (2000): 759-779.

Rodgers, Thomas E. "Hoosier Women and the Civil War Home Front." Indiana Magazine of History, 97.2 (2001): 105-128.

Walker, Henry. "Power, Sex, and Gender Roles: The Transformation…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Brown, Alexis Girardin. "The Women Left Behind: Transformation of the Southern Belle,

1840-1880." The Historian. 62.4 (2000): 759-779.

Rodgers, Thomas E. "Hoosier Women and the Civil War Home Front." Indiana Magazine of History, 97.2 (2001): 105-128.

Walker, Henry. "Power, Sex, and Gender Roles: The Transformation of an Alabama Planter

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