View single post by cklarson
 Posted: Thu May 14th, 2009 07:03 am
 PM  Quote  Reply  Full Topic 

Joined: Sun Sep 23rd, 2007
Posts: 111

  back to top

[size=Dear Cleburne,][/size][/b]
[size= ][/size][/b]
[size=You have asked an extremely good question. Like Deanne
and Lauren, I, too, have found very few mentions of rape
. They were: 1) in Dr. Esther Hill Hawks diary in which
she describes Union soldiers going on a rape campaign
against freedwomen when they occupied the Sea Islands in
S.C.; 2) a mention of two Union soldiers being hanged
for rape; 3) in the book Union Jacks on sailors in the
Union Navy, mentioning rape by soldiers in Galveston; 4)
I think, at the Sand Creek massacre, the Native
American women were raped as well as killed (but these
troops were really Denver bar flies, so they’re not
representative soldiers); 4) in the creepiest account,
the warden of Libby Prison brought in a Union doctor to
treat the wife of a US sergeant he had just had his way
with who was suffering from cholera as well as great
humiliation; the doctor said he learned nothing of the
ultimate fate of the woman; she had been treating
soldiers after the battle when she was captured with her
husband. So it appears that both sides were more prone
to rape black women and those of the enemy (of course
this was an accusation made against Sherman’s army).
Yet always keep in mind that the “fish rots from the
head down,” and usually if the command maintains
discipline generally you won’t have a lot of criminal
But as you say, overall given the number of records
I’ve gone through my findings are insignificant,
although the mass rapes are very disturbing. With the
said, however, perhaps the men just didn’t record them
in their diaries or journals and I know of no one who
has gone through courts martial to come up with numbers.
Yet I tend to believe, there were relatively few rapes
during the war, I think, for a number of reasons. ][/size][/b]
First, rape is prevalent in societies in which gender
roles are being roiled. Given some information I’ve
just read about NYC in the 1830s, I think it was similar
to the lynching issue in the South. Records show that
the black men were specifically targeted: those who
were economically succeeding. Similarly, in NYC there
were brothel riots in which laboring men attacked
houses of ill repute for the upper classes. When the
men’s working status was being downgraded (more
unskilled jobs), they resented women who were
economically successful, especially at such a “low’
profession, although the law treated madams as
businesswomen. Similarly NY small merchants tried to
get laws passed to get women peddlers off the streets.][/size][/b]
[size= ][/size][/b]
[size=So analyzing the antebellum North first, 70% or so of
US soldiers were farmers and thus came from more
traditional societies than urban centers that were
becoming victims of “sporting men’s culture”, read:
wine, women, song, and games (in response women’s
antiprostitution leagues formed, which was just one
issue in the evangelical “moral basket” that included
slavery). But back to the farms. There women greatly
contributed economically to the family: making and
selling cloth; producing butter and cheese and
gathering eggs for sale; growing food and small
livestock and helping with field chores when required.
The women were also the frontier doctors, nurses, and
midwives, and health depended upon their knowledge of
diet as CW nurse accounts demonstrate. They were the
most religious ones in the family and thus respected
for it and their community participation. So in the
country, there were not great role divisions and
families worked together as teams, same in the
communities and you still see that today in rural
areas. Hence when the men went off to war, the women
naturally thought they should go with them, that they
would be needed, which a number of commanding officers
and their husbands agreed with. As one mountain CSA
teenager put it, she didn’t see why she couldn’t “jine
up” like her brother. After all, she was older and could
shoot as well as he could. Moreover, in the winter,
women flocked into camps to live with their husbands
while not campaigning. Many soldiers also kept “comfort”
women, probably some prostitutes, but probably others
who had tried to join up.][/size][/b]
[size= ][/size][/b]
[size=Continuing with the “traditional” theme, for those of
Puritan heritage, crimes were severely dealt with and
New England had about half the crime rate of VA. In
Calvinist cultures, each person had his or her
individual relationship with God. So one reason for
paying deference to elders was that it was believed that
if you attained an advanced age that meant you had a
good relation with God, male or female. Puritan women
were thus respected for their strong characters,
devoutness, and learning. For instance when Martha
Coston, developer of the Coston signaling system for
the Navy, first visited Gideon Welles to sell her
patent, he paid her great deference and respect. After
the war, and after she had sold her device in Europe
and returned, the new SecNav didn’t even get out of
his chair, or take his feet off the desk, when she
entered the room. I think that clearly showed a
change in times and culture.][/size][/b]
[size= ][/size][/b]
[size=With that said, commercialization of sex was rampant
in major cities and spiked in DC and around army camps.
On Island No. 10, the prostitutes just camped out and
serviced whichever army came ashore. So men had access
to sex. In the North you also had stern mothers writing
their sons not to gamble or do immoral things. Prayer
meetings and all male "stag" dances were common activities,
the former sometimes every night. Regardless of their
moralizing, what you have to credit the Puritans with
is being real parents: taking responsibility for their
children’s environment. At Knox College students had
to attend morning prayers every day and Sunday services
at a church of their parents’ choosing. They couldn’t
drink or swear or otherwise be outrageous. In letters,
there is much reference to having a “conscience,” a
word we don’t hear much of these days in our “it doesn’t
matter culture.”][/size][/b]
[size= ][/size][/b]
[size=In the South, roles were more restricted and
transportation poor, so it was harder for women to
get off the plantations and farms. But the Southern
sense of chivalry would have protected the women to
a degree, except the slaves. As a matter of fact,
Southern officers often found the idea of heroines
quite romantic and the notion of female soldiers often
appealed to them. In reading accounts, it even seems
that the men, on both sides, were more disturbed by
the fact that the women were not in “proper female
attire” than that they were in combat. At the time,
clothes were much more important for both men and women,
as they denoted gender and class much more than now. Also
[size=people were quite modest at the time, so they wouldn't have
been throwing off their clothes. As one officer wrote to
his wife, explaining how a woman went undetected in camp,
she had to understand that when they went to bed at night
they put clothes on, they didn't take them off.
[size=So all these things factored in: Victorian notions of
chivalry, and protecting and respecting women; strong
moral teachings and low general crime rates in the North,
except as to prostitution; access to sex due to
[size= ][/size][/b]
[size=Finally the men did not experience women as competing
for their jobs, because the women soldiers would have
been seen as tokens. This changed with WWII. After the
Women’s Army Corps was established American men began
a slander campaign that was so vicious that FDR ordered
an FBI investigation thinking it had been generated by
German agents. Men filled their letters with obscene
material knowing it would demoralize mail censors, most
of whom were women. Part of the reason for the sexual
harassment was that the men did not want the women to
 “free” them to fight. The more women, the greater
chance of being deployed into overseas combat. And I
think that’s still the main reason US women are
attacked by US men today: they experience them as
competing for their jobs and upending their gender
identity. On my part, what I cannot understand is why
our military women are not better trained to defend
themselves. But that’s a separate issue.][/size][/b]
[size= ][/size][/b]
[size=So those are my thoughts that have piled up over the
[size= ][/size][/b]

 Close Window