Female spies risked their lives, property, and reputations by involving themselves in intelligence operations.
Elizabeth Van Lew (1818-1900) Rose O’Neal Greenhow (1817-1864) Harriet Tubman (1820-1913) 4 5 6
Women who fought in the Civil War contributed in many ways to the war. But the main contribution that women soldiers and spies of the Civil War made was in the realm of History itself. They stepped out of the Victorian norm of the era that stated that women stayed at home, had families, and did not work. These women that served were not typical women of the nineteenth century. They proved that the Civil War was not only a man’s war, but also a woman’s war.
DeAnne Blanton, a leading historian on women soldiers, wrote that “The women soldiers of the Civil War merit recognition in modern American society because they were trailblazers.... The women soldiers of the Civil War were capable fighters. From a historical viewpoint, the women combatants of 1861 to 1865 were not just ahead of their time; they were ahead of our time.” -DeAnne Blanton, “Women Soldiers of the Civil War,” Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives 25, no. 1, (Spring 1993), 5.
In a December 2000 article, a Historian at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, Else Lohman said, “Although some women in the 1860s were discharged from the military after their sex was identified, there are no accounts of women being forced out for a lack of courage or ‘emotional’ weakness.... Throughout history, women have always served in combat roles. For all we know, there could be women disguised as men in combat right now.” -Elizabeth Pezzullo, “Women Joined Fighting on Civil War Battlefields,” The Washington Times, (19 December 2000) sec. C2, p. C4
The most important contribution women that served during the Civil War made was serving in the first place. Women of the Civil War continued the history of women in combat and helped set a lineage of women who continue to fight in combat today. The definitive answer to the question, why study women soldiers and spies in the Civil War, is why not.
1: Malinda Blalock, State University of New York, http://www.geneseo.edu/~walker/SarahMalindaBlalock.html, (accessed June 13, 2010) http://www.geneseo.edu/~walker/SarahMalindaBlalock.html 2: Sarah Wakeman, Women in the Civil War, http://userpages.aug.com/captbarb/femvets2.html, (accessed June 13, 2010) http://userpages.aug.com/captbarb/femvets2.html 3: Jennie Hodgers, Kids Thank a Veteran, http://www.kidsthankavet.com/?path=women, (accessed June 13, 2010) http://www.kidsthankavet.com/?path=women 4: Elizabeth Van Lew, Virginia Historical Society, http://www.vahistorical.org/collecting/answer14.htm, (accessed June 13, 2010). http://www.vahistorical.org/collecting/answer14.htm 5: Rose O’Neal Greenhow, Library of Congress, http://loc.gov/pictures/resource/cwpbh.04849/, (accessed June 13, 2010). http://loc.gov/pictures/resource/cwpbh.04849/ 6: Harriet Tubman, Library of Congress, http://loc.gov/pictures/item/2003674596/resource/cph.3a10453/?sid=94e0554358051572 9bbd61f678c41a4c, (accessed June 13, 2010). http://loc.gov/pictures/item/2003674596/resource/cph.3a10453/?sid=94e0554358051572 9bbd61f678c41a4c For additional information see a.pdf of this presentation and script notes.
Women Soldiers of the Civil War by DeAnne Blanton http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1993/spring/ women-in-the-civil-war-1.html http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1993/spring/ women-in-the-civil-war-1.html Women Were There by Captain Barbara Wilson, http://userpages.aug.com/captbarb/femvets2.html http://userpages.aug.com/captbarb/femvets2.html
They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the American Civil War by DeAnne Blanton and Lauren M Cook. All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies by Elizabeth D Leonard. Women in the Civil War by Mary Elizabeth Massey Memories of a Soldier, Nurse and Spy: A Woman’s adventures in the Union Army by Sarah Emma Edmonds. Pauline Cushman: Spy of he Cumberland by William J Christen. Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew a Union Agent in the Heart of the Confederacy by Elizabeth R Varon.