The Civil War's Most Influential Women, Who Were They?

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JPK Huson 1863

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" Lady Columbia " was originally symbolic of all of us, North and South. Based on Greek and Roman warrior goddesses with a good dose of belligerence thrown in, she stayed ' North ' in 1861 albeit was given no choice in the matter. Still, a kinda awesome symbol- women were as influential in the war as any warrior goddess could wish.

ladies north southj.jpg

No worries. North and South created warrior sisters, the family feud obvious in this Harper's cartoon. Point being to forget all that and remark our remarkably influential sisters anyway.


The recent poll on History's most influential women resulted in discussions on women from all over the place, geographically, professionally, sociologically and where they are marked in Time. It's an awesome list, Madame Curie having ' won ' top place.

Because polls tend to confine your choice to a list, would rather not create one. We can claim so many shining stars both famous and not at all well known in 2018, it would be silly, not recognizing someone just because they're number #11. Like to ask for names, please and why. Bios not necessary, cool if anyone wishes to include links to threads already here ( if we have one )

Influential, meaning had an impact on the war- influenced some area or areas in a way remarkable in any era. Please, may we not become stuck in those North v. South side alleys, ridicule someone's choices or make negative commentary about our ladies? Asking for opinions- if a member mentions one woman, please no one be offended someone else was not? It's comprehensive.

Mine grows nearly daily. Only two on purpose, to leave as many spots open as possible.

Clara Barton. The Red Cross! Beyond Barton's war work, her legacy is staggeringly wonderful. Clara just showed up for us- Andersonville, The Missing Soldier's Bureau, The Sanitary Commission- her influence on the war was so overwhelming I'm not sure we can calculate it. How??

Harriet Jacobs. Her 1862 book, a flesh and blood follow up, as it were to Beecher-Stowe's, pulled the covers off any small idea the North had that enslavement of humans was something in fuzzy, far-off lands, nothing to do with them. Brave? Good grief. Not only did Jacobs survive ordeals a novelist would flinch at asking readers to swallow as fiction, she permitted the world to see her deepest, most awful tragedies as a black woman. For the benefit of her fellow human beings, and I mean all of us.

Who else, please?
 
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My choice is Dorothea Dix.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massachusetts_Society_for_the_Prevention_of_Cruelty_to_Animals-Angell_Animal_Medical_Center
During the early war, Dix, on June 10, 1861 was appointed Superintendent of Army Nurses.

Dix set guidelines for nurse candidates. Volunteers were to be aged 35 to 50 and plain-looking. They were required to wear unhooped black or brown dresses, with no jewelry or cosmetics. Dix wanted to avoid sending vulnerable, attractive young women into the hospitals, where she feared they would be exploited by the men (doctors as well as patients).

At odds with Army doctors, Dix feuded with them over control of medical facilities and the hiring and firing of nurses. Many doctors and surgeons did not want any female nurses in their hospitals. To solve the impasse, the War Department introduced Order No.351 in October 1863 It granted both the Surgeon General and the Superintendent of Army Nurses (Dix) the power to appoint female nurses. However, it gave doctors the power of assigning employees and volunteers to hospitals. This relieved Dix of direct operational responsibility. As superintendent, Dix implemented the Federal army nursing program, in which over 3,000 women would eventually serve.

Her even-handed caring for Union and Confederate wounded alike, assured her memory in the South. Her nurses provided what was often the only care available in the field to Confederate wounded. Georgeanna Woolsey, a Dix nurse, said, "The surgeon in charge of our camp...looked after all their wounds, which were often in a most shocking state, particularly among the rebels. Every evening and morning they were dressed." Another Dix nurse, Julia Susan Wheelock, said, "Many of these were Rebels. I could not pass them by neglected. Though enemies, they were nevertheless helpless, suffering human beings."

When Confederate forces retreated from Gettysburg, they left behind 5,000 wounded soldiers. These were treated by many of Dix's nurses. Union nurse Cornelia Hancock wrote about the experience: "There are no words in the English language to express the suffering I witnessed today...."

She was well respected for her work throughout the war because of her dedication. With the conclusion of the war her service was recognized formally. She was awarded with two national flags, these flags being for "the Care, Succor, and Relief of the Sick and wounded Soldiers of the United States on the Battle-Field, in Camps and Hospitals during the recent war." Dix ultimately founded thirty-two hospitals, and influenced the creation of two others in Japan.

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My choice is Dorothea Dix.


During the early war, Dix, on June 10, 1861 was appointed Superintendent of Army Nurses.

Dix set guidelines for nurse candidates. Volunteers were to be aged 35 to 50 and plain-looking. They were required to wear unhooped black or brown dresses, with no jewelry or cosmetics. Dix wanted to avoid sending vulnerable, attractive young women into the hospitals, where she feared they would be exploited by the men (doctors as well as patients).

At odds with Army doctors, Dix feuded with them over control of medical facilities and the hiring and firing of nurses. Many doctors and surgeons did not want any female nurses in their hospitals. To solve the impasse, the War Department introduced Order No.351 in October 1863 It granted both the Surgeon General and the Superintendent of Army Nurses (Dix) the power to appoint female nurses. However, it gave doctors the power of assigning employees and volunteers to hospitals. This relieved Dix of direct operational responsibility. As superintendent, Dix implemented the Federal army nursing program, in which over 3,000 women would eventually serve.

Her even-handed caring for Union and Confederate wounded alike, assured her memory in the South. Her nurses provided what was often the only care available in the field to Confederate wounded. Georgeanna Woolsey, a Dix nurse, said, "The surgeon in charge of our camp...looked after all their wounds, which were often in a most shocking state, particularly among the rebels. Every evening and morning they were dressed." Another Dix nurse, Julia Susan Wheelock, said, "Many of these were Rebels. I could not pass them by neglected. Though enemies, they were nevertheless helpless, suffering human beings."

When Confederate forces retreated from Gettysburg, they left behind 5,000 wounded soldiers. These were treated by many of Dix's nurses. Union nurse Cornelia Hancock wrote about the experience: "There are no words in the English language to express the suffering I witnessed today...."

She was well respected for her work throughout the war because of her dedication. With the conclusion of the war her service was recognized formally. She was awarded with two national flags, these flags being for "the Care, Succor, and Relief of the Sick and wounded Soldiers of the United States on the Battle-Field, in Camps and Hospitals during the recent war." Dix ultimately founded thirty-two hospitals, and influenced the creation of two others in Japan.
Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh. North Carolina is named for her in recognition of her advocacy for the mentally ill in the state.

http://www.asylumprojects.org/index.php?title=Dorothea_Dix_Hospital

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BillO

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The unknown number of young southern women who wrote in 1861 that they wouldn't consent to any man not in uniform but in 1864 were writing letters to those same men about their sick, starving children and she needs him at home or they will all be dead by spring.
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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At odds with Army doctors, Dix feuded with them over control of medical facilities and the hiring and firing of nurses. Many doctors and surgeons did not want any female nurses in their hospitals. To solve the impasse, the War Department introduced Order No.351 in October 1863 It granted both the Surgeon General and the Superintendent of Army Nurses (Dix) the power to appoint female nurses. However, it gave doctors the power of assigning employees and volunteers to hospitals. This relieved Dix of direct operational responsibility. As superintendent, Dix implemented the Federal army nursing program, in which over 3,000 women would eventually serve
Yes, wonderful choice, thank you! I did a 180 on Dix, not seeing exactly how hard she fought for men's lives. The female nurse thing was also valuable beyond calculation- there we were, men assigned as nurses who did not always wish to be there and a small war broke out over women who wanted the job? She sure made mincemeat of that.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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View attachment 200385 View attachment 200383 View attachment 200383 Dr. Mary Edwards Walker. The only female recipient of the MOH.

Ha! Love Dr. Mary. Yes, and she's hugely ignored today except to point out as an oddity. Her contributions were enormous, her commitment unquestionable. Dressing like a man ( which was no one's business except hers ) did not occur until much later in life but to this day there's more attention paid to that and the revoking of her medal than to her ridiculously impressive record. Captured while scouting out Southern civilians to aid? No one brings that up.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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The unknown number of young southern women who wrote in 1861 that they wouldn't consent to any man not in uniform but in 1864 were writing letters to those same men about their sick, starving children and she needs him at home or they will all be dead by spring.

Yes but there was a huge amount of pressure on anyone, man or woman, to express patriotic sentiments. That was North and South. There had to be a wide range of sentiment especially if your husband was in service. I'm a little unconvinced a 180 occurred, you know? I mean that women had to have had convoluted feelings, at least. We were no more stupid 150 years ago than today. Di you really send your husband, child, father or brother off to war with glee?
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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No contest here -- Harriet Beecher Stowe

harriet-beecher-stowe-205x269.jpg

It sure was a courageous thing to do, publishing that book. Yes, you get the idea an awful lot of fence sitters fell off their perch and more jolted into the real world. No question she influenced the war- easy enough to prove it 150 years later by how much her work is still challenged.
 

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JPK Huson 1863

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Ana Ella Carroll, who no one mentions or knows of, was an unofficial cabinet member in Lincoln's administration and a military strategist. She had enormous power, was key in campaigns we read about every day but somehow History has largely forgotten her- it's very weird. Thread on her somewhere.
 

BillO

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Yes but there was a huge amount of pressure on anyone, man or woman, to express patriotic sentiments. That was North and South. There had to be a wide range of sentiment especially if your husband was in service. I'm a little unconvinced a 180 occurred, you know? I mean that women had to have had convoluted feelings, at least. We were no more stupid 150 years ago than today. Di you really send your husband, child, father or brother off to war with glee?
Yes were just as bright then as we are now, look at the history of the start of just about every war since photography was invented and get back to me.
 
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Ana Ella Carroll, who no one mentions or knows of, was an unofficial cabinet member in Lincoln's administration and a military strategist. She had enormous power, was key in campaigns we read about every day but somehow History has largely forgotten her- it's very weird. Thread on her somewhere.
I like Anna Carroll as well....I have to confess I hadn't heard of her until I read the novel Freedom by William Safire, and then started reading some of her work. Unfortunately the novel contrives some made-up relationship between her and John Breckenridge (after all, you can't be a brilliant woman in the 1860s without also being at a man's beck and call), but does recognize that she essentially developed the plan to get gunboats to Forts Henry and Donelson as well as go to bat in print for Lincoln responding to secession.

From what I've read, she was seriously brilliant and unafraid to take on the powers that were. Go get 'em, AEC!!
 

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I might also give a shout out to Jessie Benton Fremont, just in terms of being a sheer power player. When a woman of the 1860s is unafraid to go toe to toe with the President of the United States during wartime......... look out, y'all!

Her influence didn't really last too long, especially because her husband was a military nitwit, but she wrote extensively after the War and seems to have been well regarded.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Yes were just as bright then as we are now, look at the history of the start of just about every war since photography was invented and get back to me.

Oh I don't know but sure can't argue- you've forgotten more History than I gathered in well, too many years to admit. Still, it would vary IMO ( for what opinion is worth ). Maybe it depended on the war or how desperate the cause. There was a time when younger sons went into the military because no one knew what to do with them. Eldest inherited the property, limited choices for earning a living. That's a terribly broad sketch, I know. Still, practicality played a role.

Great Britain spent a lot of time holding that Sun Never Set Empire, needed were soldiers. Our Revolution was a little pesky to them, George being occupied elsewhere, too. The women saying goodbye to men across the Pond would have had a different take on the war than Colonial American women whose men fought to gain something awfully dear.
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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I like Anna Carroll as well....I have to confess I hadn't heard of her until I read the novel Freedom by William Safire, and then started reading some of her work. Unfortunately the novel contrives some made-up relationship between her and John Breckenridge (after all, you can't be a brilliant woman in the 1860s without also being at a man's beck and call), but does recognize that she essentially developed the plan to get gunboats to Forts Henry and Donelson as well as go to bat in print for Lincoln responding to secession.

From what I've read, she was seriously brilliant and unafraid to take on the powers that were. Go get 'em, AEC!!

Yes, isn't it bizarre that we seem to have ' lost ' her? Considering her role, social status, influence and the fame she had in the era, seems so baffling! Carroll should be one of the women whose name is as familiar as Barton, Dix and a dozen others. ' Poof ', vanished.
 

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It sure was a courageous thing to do, publishing that book. Yes, you get the idea an awful lot of fence sitters fell off their perch and more jolted into the real world. No question she influenced the war- easy enough to prove it 150 years later by how much her work is still challenged.
She made the Emancipation Proclamation possible in the North. The novel and countless theatrical productions convinced the white majority of the North that slavery was evil, despite all the well-practiced arguments to the contrary. Without Stowe, the North would never have meekly accepted the Lincoln's EP.
 
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Yes, isn't it bizarre that we seem to have ' lost ' her? Considering her role, social status, influence and the fame she had in the era, seems so baffling! Carroll should be one of the women whose name is as familiar as Barton, Dix and a dozen others. ' Poof ', vanished.
Exactly!!! I wonder if everyone was so embarrassed at having all these "brilliant" military minds upstaged by someone with no military background (and a woman to boot - oh my stars and garters!!) that they decided to hush things up. If I recall, she was also promised significant payment for her writing but got somewhere between nothing and a fraction of what she was owed.
 
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