Women of the American Civil War

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CivilWarTalk

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The struggle of the American Civil War was not only brother against brother, many women were also involved in important parts of the struggle. Women of the Civil War had many roles, large and small, some giving shelter, food, or directions to soldiers in the field, others acting as nurses, doctors, and some even acting as spies and infantry soldiers. It's estimated that as many as 400 women from both sides fought in the Civil War.

Below, in alphabetical order by role, is a listing of some of the most prominent, remarkable, and influential women to participate in the struggle to win the War Between the States. We have also included a short description of each women's role or action during the period.

The Ladies of Union Leaders

US-chamberlain-grant-lincoln-mcclellan-sickles.png

Fanny Chamberlain, Julia Dent Grant, Mary Todd Lincoln, Ellen McClellan, and Teresa Sickles

The Ladies of Confederate Leaders

CS-beauregard-davis-jackson-lee-pickett.png

Caroline Beauregard, Varina Davis, Mary Anna Jackson, Mary Anne Curtis Lee, and Sallie Ann Pickett

Female Doctors, Surgeons & Nurses

NURSES-barton-blackwell-pember-tompkins-walker.png

Clara Barton, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, Phoebe Pember, Sally Tompkins, and Mary Edwards Walker

Soldiers
  • Mary Bell, acting as Tom Parker with Confederate Cavalry and Infantry in Virginia
  • Mollie Bell, acting as Bob Martin with Confederate Cavalry and Infantry in Virginia
  • Kady Brownell, Soldier for the 1st and 5th RI Infantry
  • Amy Clarke, acting as Richard Anderson with Confederate Cavalry and Infantry in Tennessee
  • Frances Clalin Clayton, acting as Jack Williams with MO artillery and cavalry units
  • Sarah Edmonds Seelye, acting as Pvt. Franklin Thompson with the 2nd MI Infantry
  • Annie Etheridge Hooks, Soldier and Nurse for the 2nd MI Infantry
  • Jennie Irene Hodgers, acting as Pvt. Albert Cashier with the 95th IL Infantry
  • Mary Galloway, soldier discovered by Clara Barton while wounded at Antietam
  • Sue Mundy*, purported Confederate Guerrilla in Kentucky, likely a man named Marcellus Clark
  • Belle Reynolds, Soldier and Nurse for 17th IL Infantry, Commissioned as a Major
  • Mary Scaberry, acting as Charles Freeman with the 52nd OH Infantry
  • Jane Short, acting as Charley Davis in the 2nd Missouri Infantry
  • Sarah Thompson, acting Courtier and Spy for Union Army in Tennessee
  • Loreta Janeta Velazquez, acting as Henry T. Buford in the Confederate Army
  • Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, acting as Lyons Wakeman in the 153rd NY Infantry
Spies
  • Mary Elizabeth Bowser, African-American "Slave" Union spy and courtier
  • Maria Isabella Boyd, Confederate spy in the Shenandoah Valley
  • Pauline Cushman, Union spy in Kentucky
  • Nancy Hart Douglas, Confederate spy and soldier in VA/WV
  • Antonia Ford, Confederate spy and courtier in the Fairfax Courthouse, VA area
  • Rose O'Neal Greenhow, Confederate spy and propagandist
  • Eugenia Phillips, smuggled Union military documents to Richmond
  • Emeline Pigott, Confederate spy in North Carolina
  • Laura Ratcliffe, spy and informant to Confederate Cavalry in the Fairfax, VA area
  • Elizabeth Van Lew, Union spy in Richmond Virginia
  • Mary Kate Patterson Kyle, supporter of the Confederate Coleman Scouts
Authors
  • Louisa May Alcott, author of Hospital Sketches and Little Women
  • Mary Chesnut, author of Mary Chesnut's Civil War a.k.a. A Diary from Dixie
  • Carrie Berry Crumley, author of A Confederate Girl: Diary of Carrie Berry, 1864
  • Emily Dickinson, American poet
  • Julia Ward Howe, author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic
  • Fannie Anne Kemble, author of Journal of a Residence in America
  • Sarah Morgan, author of The Civil War Diaries of Sarah Morgan
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin
Former Slaves, Abolitionists, and Anti-Slavery Activists
  • Susan B. Anthony, anti-slavery activist & women's rights activist
  • Charlotte Forten, Northern African-American teacher of Southern slave children
  • Matilda Joslyn Gage, abolitionist, author and feminist
  • Harriet Jacobs, former slave turned abolitionist, and reformer
    • Author of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
  • Elizabeth Keckley, former slave, seamstress, and civil activist
    • Author of: Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House
  • Mary Ashton Rice Livermore, abolitionist and caregiver in U.S. Sanitary Commission
  • Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, African-American anti-slavery activist
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton, abolitionist and women's rights activist
  • Laura Towne, abolitionist and teacher of emancipated slaves
  • Isabel Sojourner Truth, former slave and African-American anti-slavery activist
  • Harriet Tubman, former slave, conductor of Underground Railroad, scout, spy and nurse
Other Notable Women
  • Anna Ella Carroll, Northern political activist, pamphleteer, and adviser to the Lincoln administration
  • Olivia Langdon Clemens, wife of the author Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain
  • Mary Jane Green, founded the first Confederate Cemetery in Georgia
  • Dolly Harris, "Heroine of Greencastle, PA"
  • Julia Laura Jackson, Daughter of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson
  • Mary Jackson, leader of the women participating in the Richmond Bread Riots
  • Laura Pender, Southerner, noted for running the Union Blockade near Wilmington, NC
  • Princess Agnes Salm-Salm, caregiver to Union soldiers
  • Emma Sansom, as a young girl aided CS Brig Gen Forrest to find a river crossing
  • Mary Surrat, tavern owner in Washington, DC, convicted as conspirator in Lincoln Assassination
  • Elizabeth Thorn, cemetery keeper of Evergreen Cemetery during the Battle of Gettysburg
  • Mary Virginia Ginnie (Jennie) Wade, only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg
This guide is a work in progress, and is intended to be as broad in scope as is possible. If you are aware of a Woman from the American Civil War period not currently listed above and you believe should be added, please let us know by posting the full name, role, and any additional information so that we can add the person to our list.

* as noted in the entry above, it is believed that Sue Mundy was actually a man named Marcellus Clark who was hanged as a Confederate Guerrilla fighter after being captured by Union soldiers in Kentucky.

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CivilWarTalk

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Pvt.A.Wells

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Sue Munday in Ky. was a man named Marcellus Clark. He look like a young woman with his bare face and long hair. There seems to be more than one Sue Munday, or just a lot of conflicting information. I believe he was hung.

Also was it not Jenny Wade, not Ginnie Wade that was killed at Gettysburg? She was just a young woman, and not a contributor, her fame is her death.

S.D.Swart
 

CivilWarTalk

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Sue Munday in Ky. was a man named Marcellus Clark. He look like a young woman with his bare face and long hair. There seems to be more than one Sue Munday, or just a lot of conflicting information. I believe he was hung.
Yes, I listed that as "purported Confederate Guerrilla", I'll clarify that listing.

purported = reputed or claimed; alleged.

Also was it not Jenny Wade, not Ginnie Wade that was killed at Gettysburg? She was just a young woman, and not a contributor, her fame is her death.
Actually there seems to be some conflict to the correct spelling, I'll need to research that.
 
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tmh10

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Isabella Fogg

Isabella Fogg was from Maine. When her son mustered into service, Isabella decided to follow him. She began by nursing sick and wounded soldiers at hospitals and hospital transport ships. Working as a state agent from Maine, Isabella was responsible for collecting and distributing supplies at various hospitals. Isabella nursed the troops following the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. Isabella was often commended for her dedication to the troops, her trift at obtaining supplies, and her insistence on sanitary conditions at hospitals and camps. Isabella's son was wounded in 1864, requirin amputation of his leg. Mrs. Fogg was able to locate her son and personally nursed him, although she herself fell ill. Following her return to health, Isabella returned to her work and began setting up diet kitchens at army hospitals. That year, while on a transport ship, Isabella fell through an open hatchway and injured her spine severely. She died in Washington, DC in 1872. Mrs. Fogg is portrayed by group member Teresa.
http://www.freewebs.com/civilwarladies/whoweare.htm
 
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donna

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I believe the author Louisa May Alcott first name should be spelt Louisa not Luisa. I have several of her books. "Little Women" has always been a favorite of mine.
 
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CSA Today

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Loreta Janeta Velazquez

Loreta Janeta Velazquez sounded like a mythical figure: a Cuban-born woman raised in New Orleans, where she masqueraded as a male soldier and fought in the Civil War. With a fake mustache, beard, and a soldier's uniform, the Latina enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861 as Lieutenant Harry T. Buford , without her husband's knowledge.
http://www.boston.com/yourlife/articles/2006/08/22/stealth_fighter/
 

CivilWarTalk

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Isabella Fogg was from Maine. When her son mustered into service, Isabella decided to follow him. She began by nursing sick and wounded soldiers at hospitals and hospital transport ships. Working as a state agent from Maine, Isabella was responsible for collecting and distributing supplies at various hospitals.....
Thanks, I've added this name to the list.

I believe the author Louisa May Alcott first name should be spelt Louisa not Luisa. I have several of her books. "Little Women" has always been a favorite of mine.
Good catch, not sure why or how I spelled it wrong, updated.

Loreta Janeta Velazquez sounded like a mythical figure: a Cuban-born woman raised in New Orleans, where she masqueraded as a male soldier and fought in the Civil War. With a fake mustache, beard, and a soldier's uniform, the Latina enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861 as Lieutenant Harry T. Buford , without her husband's knowledge.
Another good one to add, list updated.
 

ExNavyPilot

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Two corrections:

Under Female Doctors, you describe Mary Edwards Walker as a "Medal of Honor Winner." Please change it to read "Medal of Honor recipient" or "awardee". As with all military decorations, a soldier/sailor/airman does not "win" a MOH like one wins a prize or a contest. Their actions might "earn" them it, and they might be "awarded" it, but they do not "win" the MOH.

Under Authors, the correct spelling is Mary CHESNUT, not Chestnut. (Common error.)
 
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ExNavyPilot

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Loreta Janeta Velazquez

Loreta Janeta Velazquez sounded like a mythical figure: a Cuban-born woman raised in New Orleans, where she masqueraded as a male soldier and fought in the Civil War. With a fake mustache, beard, and a soldier's uniform, the Latina enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861 as Lieutenant Harry T. Buford , without her husband's knowledge.
[URL='http://www.boston.com/yourlife/articles/2006/08/22/stealth_fighter/[/quote']http://www.boston.com/yourlife/articles/2006/08/22/stealth_fighter/[/URL]
She does sound like she could be mythical, but I tend to believe she's the real thing. Quite a little hellion. My wife is only half-hispanic and I know what her ire is like when provoked--I can imagine how Loreta would be able to pull this off.
 

jacobb

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The struggle of the American Civil War was not only brother against brother, many women were also involved in important parts of the struggle. Women of the Civil War had many roles, large and small, some giving shelter, food, or directions to soldiers in the field, others acting as nurses, doctors, and some even acting as spies and infantry soldiers. It's estimated that as many as 400 women from both sides fought in the Civil War.

Below, in alphabetical order by role, is a listing of some of the most prominent, remarkable, and influential women to participate in the struggle to win the War Between the States. We have also included a short description of each women's role or action during the period.

The Ladies of Union Leaders

View attachment 8304
Fanny Chamberlain, Julia Dent Grant, Mary Todd Lincoln, Ellen McClellan, and Teresa Sickles
  • Fanny Chamberlain, wife of Brigadier General Joshua Chamberlain
  • Libby Custer, wife of General George Armstrong Custer
  • Rose Adele Cutts Douglas, wife of Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas
  • Julia Dent Grant, wife to General U. S. Grant, future First Lady
  • Almira Hancock, wife of General Winfield Scott Hancock
  • Clara Harris, fiancé (and later wife) of Major Henry Rathbone, witness to Lincoln Assassination
  • Lucy Webb Hayes, wife to General Rutherford B. Hayes, future First Lady
  • Eliza Johnson, wife of Vice President Andrew Johnson, future First Lady
  • Mary Todd Lincoln, First Lady to President Abraham Lincoln
  • Ellen Mary Marcy McClellan, wife of General George B. McClellan
  • Helen Burden McDowell, wife of General Irvin McDowell
  • Margaretta Sergeant Meade, wife of General George Gordon Meade
  • Frances Adeline Seward, wife to Secretary of State William Seward
  • Irene Rucker Sheridan, wife of General Philip Sheridan
  • Ellen Ewing Sherman, wife of General William Tecumseh Sherman
  • Teresa Sickles, wife of General Daniel Sickles
The Ladies of Confederate Leaders

View attachment 8305
Caroline Beauregard, Varina Davis, Mary Anna Jackson, Mary Anne Curtis Lee, and Sallie Ann Pickett
  • Cornelia Armistead, wife of General Lewis Armistead
  • Caroline Deslonde Beauregard, wife of General P. G. T. Beauregard
  • Natalie Benjamin, wife of Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin
  • Varina Howell Davis, wife to President Jefferson Davis
  • Mary Ann Montgomery Forrest, wife of General Nathan Bedford Forrest
  • Mary Anna Morrison Jackson, wife of General Thomas Jonathan Jackson
  • Lydia McLane Johnston, wife of General Joseph E. Johnston
  • Mary Anne Randolph Custis Lee, wife to General Robert E. Lee
  • Maria Louise Garland Longstreet, wife of General James Longstreet
  • Pauline Mosby, wife of General John Singleton Mosby
  • Sallie Ann (LaSalle) Corbell Pickett, wife of General George Pickett
  • Flora Cooke Stuart, wife of General J.E.B. Stuart
Female Doctors, Surgeons & Nurses

View attachment 8306
Clara Barton, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, Phoebe Pember, Sally Tompkins, and Mary Edwards Walker
  • Clara Barton, humanitarian and founder of the American Red Cross
  • Mary Ann Ball Bickerdyke, Northern nurse and caregiver
  • Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, first woman to receive a Medical Degree in the U.S.
  • Kate Cummings, Southern nurse and caregiver
  • Dorethea Dix, Superintendent of all Union Army Nurses
  • Isabella Fogg, Northern nurse and caregiver
  • Cordelia Perrine Harvey, Northern nurse and caregiver
  • Harriet Ward Foote Hawley, Northern nurse and caregiver
  • Jane Currie Blaikie Hoge, Northern nurse and nurse recruiter for the Union Army
  • Abby House, Southern nurse and caregiver
  • Juliet Opie Hopkins, Southern nurse and caregiver
  • Abigail Hopper Gibbons, Northern nurse and caregiver
  • Cornelia Hancock, Northern nurse and caregiver
  • Fannie A. Jackson, Southern nurse, caregiver to Union Army
  • Ella Palmer, Southern nurse and caregiver
  • Phoebe Yates Levy Pember, nurse at Richmond’s Chimborazo Hospital
  • Mary Jane Safford, Northern nurse and caregiver
  • Carrie Sheads, nurse to wounded near Gettysburg
  • Sally Louisa Tompkins, Southern caregiver
  • Joanna Fox Waddill, Southern nurse and humanitarian
  • Mary Edwards Walker, first female Surgeon in the U.S. Army & Medal of Honor recipient
Soldiers
  • Mary Bell, acting as Tom Parker with Confederate Cavalry and Infantry in Virginia
  • Mollie Bell, acting as Bob Martin with Confederate Cavalry and Infantry in Virginia
  • Kady Brownell, Soldier for the 11th and 5th RI Infantry
  • Amy Clarke, acting as Richard Anderson with Confederate Cavalry and Infantry in Tennessee
  • Frances Clalin Clayton, acting as Jack Williams with MO artillery and cavalry units
  • Sarah Edmonds Seelye, acting as Pvt. Franklin Thompson with the 2nd MI Infantry
  • Annie Etheridge Hooks, Soldier and Nurse for the 2nd MI Infantry
  • Jennie Irene Hodgers, acting as Pvt. Albert Cashier with the 95th IL Infantry
  • Mary Galloway, soldier discovered by Clara Barton while wounded at Antietam
  • Sue Mundy*, purported Confederate Guerrilla in Kentucky, likely a man named Marcellus Clark
  • Belle Reynolds, Soldier and Nurse for 17th IL Infantry, Commissioned as a Major
  • Mary Scaberry, acting as Charles Freeman with the 52nd OH Infantry
  • Jane Short, acting as Charley Davis in the 2nd Missouri Infantry
  • Sarah Thompson, acting Courtier and Spy for Union Army in Tennessee
  • Loreta Janeta Velazquez, acting as Henry T. Buford in the Confederate Army
  • Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, acting as Lyons Wakeman in the 153rd NY Infantry
Spies
  • Mary Elizabeth Bowser, African-American "Slave" Union spy and courtier
  • Maria Isabella Boyd, Confederate spy in the Shenandoah Valley
  • Pauline Cushman, Union spy in Kentucky
  • Nancy Hart Douglas, Confederate spy and soldier in VA/WV
  • Antonia Ford, Confederate spy and courtier in the Fairfax Courthouse, VA area
  • Rose O'Neal Greenhow, Confederate spy and propagandist
  • Eugenia Phillips, smuggled Union military documents to Richmond
  • Emeline Pigott, Confederate spy in North Carolina
  • Laura Ratcliffe, spy and informant to Confederate Cavalry in the Fairfax, VA area
  • Elizabeth Van Lew, Union spy in Richmond Virginia
Authors
  • Louisa May Alcott, author of Hospital Sketches and Little Women
  • Mary Chesnut, author of Mary Chesnut's Civil War a.k.a. A Diary from Dixie
  • Emily Dickinson, American poet
  • Julia Ward Howe, author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic
  • Fannie Anne Kemble, author of Journal of a Residence in America
  • Sarah Morgan, author of The Civil War Diaries of Sarah Morgan
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin
Former Slaves, Abolitionists, and Anti-Slavery Activists
  • Susan B. Anthony, anti-slavery activist & women's rights activist
  • Charlotte Forten, Northern African-American teacher of Southern slave children
  • Matilda Joslyn Gage, abolitionist, author and feminist
  • Mary Ashton Rice Livermore, abolitionist and caregiver in U.S. Sanitary Commission
  • Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, African-American anti-slavery activist
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton, abolitionist and women's rights activist
  • Laura Towne, abolitionist and teacher of emancipated slaves
  • Isabel Sojourner Truth, former slave and African-American anti-slavery activist
  • Harriet Tubman, former slave, conductor of Underground Railroad, scout, spy and nurse
Other Notable Women
  • Anna Ella Carroll, Northern political activist, pamphleteer, and adviser to the Lincoln administration
  • Olivia Langdon Clemens, wife of the author Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain
  • Dolly Harris, "Heroine of Greencastle, PA"
  • Mary Jackson, leader of the women participating in the Richmond Bread Riots
  • Laura Pender, Southerner, noted for running the Union Blockade near Wilmington, NC
  • Princess Agnes Salm-Salm, caregiver to Union soldiers
  • Emma Sansom, as a young girl aided CS Brig Gen Forrest to find a river crossing
  • Mary Surrat, tavern owner in Washington, DC, convicted as conspirator in Lincoln Assassination
  • Elizabeth Thorn, cemetery keeper of Evergreen Cemetery during the Battle of Gettysburg
  • Mary Virginia Ginnie (Jennie) Wade, only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg
This guide is a work in progress, and is intended to be as broad in scope as is possible. If you are aware of a Woman from the American Civil War period not currently listed above and you believe should be added, please let us know by posting the full name, role, and any additional information so that we can add the person to our list.

* as noted in the entry above, it is believed that Sue Mundy was actually a man named Marcellus Clark who was hanged as a Confederate Guerrilla fighter after being captured by Union soldiers in Kentucky.
 

jacobb

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Mary Kate Patterson Davis Hill Kyle was a prominent female supporter of the Confederate unit named the Coleman Scouts. Her brother Everard Meade Patterson also a member of the brave unit from Tennessee gathered military intel on federals operating in middle and west Tennessee. Mary Kate was married first to Sam Davis' brother and her husband was killed after the war of aggression in a riverboat explosion on the Miss. River north of Memphis.

Mary Kate is buried in the Confederate Circle in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Nashville and died in 1931. Her brother died in 1932 being the last of the Coleman Scouts to die. A chapter in our book "Shadow Soldiers of the Confederacy" is devoted to her and her brother Everard.

A female cousin of Mary Kate's named Robbie Woodruff also provided support to the Coleman Scouts. On numerous occassions Robbie helped in escapees of captured scouts, provided medical care as well as helping the unit obtain intelligence. After the war Robbie married and lived out her life in Houston Texas.
 
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godofredus

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Add Susie King Taylor; author of "A Black Woman's Civil War Memoirs" or "Reminiscences of my life.."
Truly a remarkable woman and book. Nurse, laundress, major part of GAR in later years, and her book is a testimony to the evils of jim crow in the 1890's...
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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Hey, I'd like to add one to the list....a Georgia woman named Mary J. Green. She re-interred with her own hands the hastily buried Confederate soldiers from the Resaca Battlefield which was on their planation into what became known as the Confederate Cemetery, one of the first in the nation.
Here's the page...
http://www.georgiadivision.org/bor_resaca_cemetery.html
Certainly, and thanks very much! I don't see where we have a thread on her so will certainly make sure we do a memorial, she sounds like another remarkable female. Really appreciate you taking the time to draw our attention to her. Those few sentences " Re-interred with her own hands..." If you think about it, gee whiz! That is TOUGH, I mean really!! I was thinking about exactly this, same thing, about Elizabeth Thorn, too? Take sun-baked earth and just try to shovel a hole large enough for a cat, much less a man. Yet Mary did that- must have had to literally haul these poor soldiers into each grave one by one, put the earth over him. No one can know what transpired but being of the era, you would have to think she also prayed over each grave in some kind of personal funeral, the men so far from home.

We will commemorate her, see what other information is available, too, so thanks again.
 
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W. Richardson

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Candace Bailey’s exploration of the intertwining worlds of music and gender shows how young southern women pushed the boundaries of respectability to leave their unique mark on a patriarchal society. Before 1861, a strictly defined code of behavior allowed a southern woman to identify herself as a “lady” through her accomplishments in music, drawing, and writing, among other factors. Music permeated the lives of southern women, and they learned appropriate participation through instruction at home and at female training institutions. A belle’s primary venue was the parlor, where she could demonstrate her usefulness in the domestic circle by providing comfort and serving to enhance social gatherings through her musical performances, often by playing the piano or singing. The southern lady performed in public only on the rarest of occasions, though she might attend public performances by women. An especially talented lady who composed music for a broader audience would do so anonymously so that her reputation would remain unsullied.

The tumultuous Civil War years provided an opportunity for southern women to envision and attempt new ways to make themselves useful to the broader, public society. While continuing their domestic responsibilities, and taking on new ones, young women also tested the boundaries of propriety in a variety of ways. In a broad break with the past, musical ladies began giving public performances to raise money for the war effort, some women published patriotic Confederate music under their own names, supporting their cause and claiming public ownership for their creations. Bailey explores these women’s lives and analyzes their music. Through their move from private to public performance and publication, southern ladies not only expanded concepts of social acceptability but also gained a valued sense of purpose.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AWL3F1S/?tag=civilwartalkc-20


Respectfully,
William
Southern Belle.jpg
 

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