I wasn't going to get into this subject yet, but brought these women up in another thread so thought I better in case someone started discussing them there. When I first bumped into this subject ages ago, the website I was reading had me believe these were not females interested in helping men. Well, maybe help but in other ways than medical and general care. I still do not know whether some were camp followers of a certain type and some were truly women who just, plain needed to serve in some way and had been disallowed enlistment in the front-line units, where they wished to be. Filling a need, they dispensed all manner of care ' braving the battles '. With the discovery the the Kearny Cross had been awarded to 2 of these women, of course the previous image was pretty darn insulting- they did not hand those out to mere cuties. Annie Etheridge received one for her actions during the War, a Vivandierre with the 2nd Michigan. Wiki's definition ( for what they can be worth- I'm not enough of an expert to judge ) does not seem to match their function during the American Civil War, although the name was certainly striking enough I suppose, for both sexes to wish to use: " Vivandière or Cantinière is a French name for women attached to military regiments as sutlers or canteen keepers. Their actual historic function of selling wine to the troops and working in canteens led to the adoption of the name 'cantinière' which came to supplant the original ‘vivandière' starting in 1793, but the use of both terms was common in French until the mid-19th century, and 'vivandière' remained the term of choice in non-French-speaking countries like the USA/CSA, Spain, Italy, and Great Britain. Vivandières served in the French army up until the beginning of World War I, but the custom (and the name) spread to many other armies. Vivandières also served on both sides in the American Civil War, and in the armies of Spain, Italy, the German States, Switzerland, and various armies in South America, though little is known about the details in most of those cases as historians have not done extensive research on them. " It does sound to me as if sometimes women made the job uniquely their own. This definition doesn't sound much like the woman who risked so much she earned the Kearny Cross. Anyone interested in this subject has their own favorite, or favorites. It's funny, some who received little publicity performed amazing acts, others seem to have been just, plain cute so received MUCH attention on the account. The thing is, just being there on the front lines was extraordinarily helpful, not to mention heroic. No pay, just a desire to be there. It does sound as if the roles may have varied slightly, but some functions were held in common. " Though non-essential to fighting regiments, vivandieres performed some important functions. The most important was as a nurse. With her cask of spirits or a canteen of water, a vivandiere gave a wounded or sick soldier immediate attention, comparable to a modern triage situation. Some vivandieres were well-armed for self-defense, such as Sarah Taylor, who carried a sword, rifle and pistols. Annie Etheridge carried two pistols, and Marie Tepe was also armed with a pistol. Among the deeds of valor performed by vivandieres were Kady Brownell's actions at the battle of New Bern, where, carrying the colors into battle, Kady ran with the flag to the center of the field to show the Union troops that the 5th Rhode Island was not the enemy. " ( this is from edu/osu, Daughters of the Regiment ) Since this was a non-official funcition, ' uniforms ' varied hugely, also. Generally there was a skirt worn over trousers, the rest of the clothing being whatever occured to the woman as functional and/or their idea of what should be worn to fit in with their sefl- appointed positions. There is frequently a kind of hysterical difference between reality and what was publicized for the public. One is a sketched/painted image, showing a sprightly female kind of chirppily offering aid to wounded man, starched skirt swinging, the next perhaps the same female in the flesh- note the curld hair, which would have taken heated tongs, and the light colored skirt. The third would have of neccesity been closer to the truth, just in my opinion, unless there were women who could have afforded the luxury of taking ' help ' with them on their travels. I am not conversant enough to know whether ot not this was the case, just would have to doubt it?