Civil War Sesquicentennial – Women

Frances L. Clalin, disguised herself as "Jack Williams" in order to fight for the Union in the Civil War.

In times of war, women are often asked to shoulder the burden on the home front – to take care of the children, keep up the country’s morale, and provide whatever assistance they can without actually entering combat. In our most recent wars, American women usually dealt with these problems far away from the action.

During the Civil War, women on both sides of the divide had to cope with the issues of a war fought on home ground. Some turned to journals and writing, some disguised themselves as men and joined the fighting, and some of them even passed secrets to the other side. Regardless, many of them helped to shape the “new birth of freedom” that came about after the fighting ended.

Learn more about the ways in which women also “fought” during the war with one of these titles:



Civil War Wives: The Lives and Times of Angelina Grimke Weld, Varina Howell Davis, and Julia Dent Grant – Carol Berkin

The Colors of Courage: Gettysburg’s Forgotten History: Immigrants, Women, and African-Americans in the Civil War’s Defining Battle  -Margaret S. Creighton

Confederate Heroines: 120 Southern Women Convicted by Union Military Justice – Thomas P. Lowry

Daughters of the Union: Northern Women Fight the Civil War – Nina Silber

Disarming the Nation: Women’s Writing and the American Civil War – Elizabeth Young

First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis’s Civil War – Joan E. Cashin

Mary Chesnut’s Civil War – Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut

Mary Edwards Walker: Above and Beyond – Dale L. Walker

 Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly: The Remarkable Story of the Friendship Between a First lady and a Former Slave – Jennifer Fleischner

The Mysterious Private Thompson: The Double Life of Sarah Emma Edmonds, Civil War Soldier – Laura Leedy Gansler

Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, A Union Agent in the Heart of the Confederacy – Elizabeth R. Varon

Stealing Secrets: How  Few Daring Women Deceived Generals, Impacted Battles, and Altered the Course of the Civil War – Donald H. Winkler

They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the American Civil War – DeAnne Blanton

An Uncommon Soldier: The Civil War Letters of Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, Alias Private Lyons Wakeman, 153rd Regiment, New York State Volunteers – Sarah Rosetta Wakeman

Wild Rose: Rose O’Neale Greenhow, Civil War Spy – Ann Blackman

Women in the Civil War: Extraordinary Stories, Spies, Nurses, Doctors, Crusaders, and Others  – Larry G. Eggleston

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