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 Posted: Sat May 2nd, 2009 10:01 pm
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Old North State
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This is a question.  Are there folks on this forum who are interested in the history of the women who served in the field during the Civil War?  I haven't noticed any recent comments about them. :)

Frances Hook (or so she said her name was), alias Frank Miller, served with the 90th Illinois from August 1862, when she enlisted in Chicago, until captured in October 1863 while foraging near Florence, AL.  She was wounded while trying to escape and imprisoned in Atlanta.  Found to be a woman, she was exchanged at Graysville, GA in February 1864 and hospitalized in Chattanooga and then Nashville.  Her leg wound became infected during her imprisonment and required extended hospitalization for recovery sufficient for authorities to send her "north", presumably to Chicago.  It is rare to find any official military record of a woman serving as a soldier (although a few such records exist), but in Frances Hook's case there is an official medical record of her hospitalizations.  A Chicago newpaper account in 1862 tells of the discovery that she was a female and a Memphis newspaper account in 1863 relates her continuing service with the 90th IL.  An interview by a New York Times reporter in April 1864 provides the most coherent story of her capture, wounding, imprisonment and exchange.  She apparently fought with the 90th IL as they repulsed Van Dorn's raiders north of Holly Springs, MS, and during the seige of Jackson, MS after Vicksburg.



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 Posted: Mon May 4th, 2009 09:56 pm
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calcav1
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Old North State,

I am particularly intrested in the very woman you have noted. I am writing an article for Blue & Gray Magazine on the Holly Springs Raid and recently learned of Francis/Frank. I found an article from the Memphis Bulletin, April 1, 1863, which gives a great account of her activity up to that point. I found the articles you sited as well and a website with a little more info. Apparently she not only fought at Coldwater during the Holly Springs Raid, but also fought at Shiloh as a soldier in the 11th Illinois Infantry.

http://civilwarwomen.blogspot.com/2007/01/frances-hook.html

Tom

Last edited on Mon May 4th, 2009 10:01 pm by calcav1



 Posted: Mon May 4th, 2009 10:46 pm
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Old North State
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Tom,
Thanks for the website. I wonder if there is any evidence of her service in the 11th Illinois other than her apparent statement that she and her brother served in that unit.
Old North State



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 Posted: Tue May 5th, 2009 07:55 pm
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susansweet3
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I am very interested in women who served in battle .  I have read two books Uncommon Soldier and They fought Like Demons.  Enjoyed both of them.  Also have Women in the Civil War which I tend to read at not just sit down and read.

Susan



 Posted: Thu May 7th, 2009 06:47 pm
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jeffand
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I just spent a few minutes at the site named above. I found it very interesting to see what role women had during the war. I intend to spend more time there soon. Thanks for the information.



 Posted: Thu May 7th, 2009 10:21 pm
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susansweet3
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It is a really good site. I check it every so often to read about women in the Civil War .



 Posted: Fri May 8th, 2009 01:16 am
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TimK
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I went to the website Tom suggested to get a quick glance, and the next thing I knew, an hour and a half had passed. I get fascinated by peoples stories, and some of these women had some incredible lives. I only scratched the surface, and I always appreciate the opportunity to take a peak into history. I'm sure I'll head back there a few more times.



 Posted: Sat May 9th, 2009 06:53 am
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cklarson
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Folks,

I'm one of the ones who got the ball rolling on the women Civil War soldiers in the early 90s. Currently there are 3 good books out: the most recent and readable, Women on the Civil War Battlefront by Richard Hall (UPress Kansas, 2006); Deanne Blanton's and Lauren Cook's, They Fought Like Demons; and Elizabeth D. Leonard's All the Daring of a Solider: Women of the Civil War Armies. Hall includes battlefield nurses and Leonard does a good job covering US detectives. Also see Linda Grant DePauw's CW chapter in Battlecries and Lullabies. Go to my website designed specifically for teachers and students: "Springing to the Call: A Documentary View of Women in the American Civil War," at http://www.nymas.org, right sidebar, scroll down. E.g., Annie Etheridge's pension bill copy; Eliz. Taylor, CSNavy, among other documents, including the most pertinent chapters of Martha Coston's memoir, A Signal Success. She developed the Coston night signaling system used up till the 1930s by the Navy and CG. Also on the NYMAS website is my complete chapter on Anna Ella Carroll and the 1862 Tenneessee River campaign (did anyone see the 1938 movie on her "Strange Glory" 5/5 on TCM?). Hall, Blanton and De Pauw are all my friends and so far we've documented about 300 women soldiers/combatants. My own cousin, presumably Frances Deming, served 9 months in Co. A, 17th OVI and was discharged for "the congenital peculiarity of being female." I have a copy of her discharge form.

Maggie McLean's blogspot is very good, but not all her information is accurate, although it appears most is. Also see the new bios of Elizabeth Van Lew by Eliz. Varon; Pauline Cushman by William J. Christen; and Rose Greenhow by Ann Blackman. Still the best 1-volume treatment of women in the war is Mary Massey's Women in the Civil War, originally published in the 60s as Bonnet Brigades, not an enticing title. Then there is my novel, South Under a Prairie Sky: The Journal of Nell Churchill, US Army Nurse & Scout, a very fact-based work of fiction set in IL on the homefront and mostly TN on the war front, based partly on my mother's family in Warren/Henderson Cos. IL.

Cheers!,
CKLarson





 Posted: Sat May 9th, 2009 08:53 pm
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CK Larson,
Thank you for your very informative post.  The excellent information is appreciated.  I wonder what your thoughts are about documentation of women's service during the Civil War?  When one consults several sources, it is clear that some sources of information are accepted by some authors, but not by others.  Moreover, the information is sometimes in conflict with the chronology of the war, but the conflict seems not to be noticed by the author.  This seems to suggest that it would be useful to be more aware of sources of information and make some distinctions based on the type of source.  For example, presumably official military records would be an excellent source, but not available very often for a given woman.  Specific information in a soldier's letter home would be a good source, but if the soldier is citing rumors, presumably that would be a less good source, etc. etc. Stories told by third parties sometime after the war could be more questionable.   As a professional working on this subject, how have you viewed various sources of information?
Again, thanks for the excellent information in your post.
Old North State



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 Posted: Sun May 10th, 2009 05:41 am
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cklarson
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Dear ONS,

Thanks for your kind response. Three of the 4 authors of the books on the women soldiers are professional researchers. Dick Hall, as I remember, worked for the Congressional Research service; Deanne Blanton is a senior military archivist at NARA; and Eliz. Leonard is a professor at Colby College. Clearly govt. records are best. I've gone through all the official navy records and probably 25% of army records. But most accounts come from newspapers, often in the towns where the women were discharged. Then other papers would circulate the accounts. For instance an AR paper printed an account of a young woman who tried to enlist in Monmouth IL, my aunt's hometown. So it's like playing telephone, the story gets distorted as it goes along. But Dick, Deanne, and Lauren have spent more than 10 years researching these women, and many have multiple sources. Often there are pension bills and files as in the cases of S. Emma E. Edmonds, aka Franklin Thompson, 2nd MI, who wrote her autobio in 1864, Unsexed; or the female soldier; Annie Etheridge; Nadine Turchin and others. Also you have to pick through memoirs, e.g., NY Herald reporter Richardson for Union scout Melvina (last name, don't remember). I just learned one of my Beresford cousins is related to Diane Smith, one of the WVA Moccasin Rangers, along with Nancy Hart. That's why I did my website, so teachers and students would have access to govt. documents, memoir material, articles, and biographies that are reliable, from the period and in the public domain.

Now as to the question, what do you believe? The 2 biographers Edmonds and Loreta Janeta Velazquez fictionalized parts. So, for instance, in reviewing the new bio of Pauline Cushman, I wrote that you have to judge each major incident on its own merits. Christen questioned Cushman's tale about aborting a poisoning of US soldiers by a boarding house owner while kept in her house, when Cushman was operating as a US army detective. But I asked why? There were other instances of poisoning of supplies and persons during the war, e.g.., owners by slaves and other women's detective duties were similiar. On the other hand, Christen took at face value, the charge that Cushman, later in life, had stolen goods. But there was no other indication of dishonesty on her part. Annie Oakley was accused of the same thing and the criminal turned out to be an impersonator. Oakely spent years suing newspapers on this case. Anna Ella Carroll, currently, has been accused of suborning perjury and concocting documents, when she had nothing but a sterling record and operated at the highest govt. and political levels for 25 years--in other words, she would have been found out earlier, had she been a fraud. But the blame is with the researchers and she is a particularly lightning rod because people don't want her to be so important--sorry, but she was--an advisor to Lincoln and all that. So once you see the range of things all the women did and do enough general research to know the kinds of incidents that were occurring, you get a feel for what is suspect and what is not. But as you say, the dates and facts have to match. Indeed, one Sat. afternoon, I called Dick screaming, it's Loreta, it's Loreta! She wrote that in the fall of '61, she got transportation papers to go west from VA to Fort Donelson. In the _Rebel Clerk's Diary_, a soldier enters his office in the fall of '61, giving a funny unit name and demanding transportation papers. She makes the mistake of curtseying as she leaves. So this matches Loreta's account. There are other funny incidents, like the women who were discovered because they forget themselves: one reached to catch apples in an apron she wasn't wearing and another, in a slip of the mind, started to put her pants on over her head, forgeting it wasn't a dress. Also as judged by the Monmouth incident, after a while recruiting officers were on the look out for women.

CKL



 Posted: Mon May 11th, 2009 10:15 pm
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Old North State
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CK Larson,
Thank you for the very thoughtful response.
ONS



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 Posted: Wed May 13th, 2009 01:38 am
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CleburneFan
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Old North State wrote: This is a question.  Are there folks on this forum who are interested in the history of the women who served in the field during the Civil War?  I haven't noticed any recent comments about them. :)


I really admire these women. My favorites are ones who raised their own companies and led them. I also find women in cavalry and artillery especially interesting. Both of these required extra skills and training...such as swordsmanship skill and being able to ride and shoot on horseback. The demands of being an artillerist would be very tough to master for a woman of those times.  

One woman rose to the rank of major! None went higher as far as is known. I chuckle to myself trying to imgaine that one of the well known generals was actually a woman...most likely one of the shorter and younger ones. Such a thing might be easier to pull off as a quartermaster, for example, rather than an actual field commander.  

The one who captures my imagination the most is Loreta Velasquez, but there are many others such as ones who fulfilled all the rigors of  infantry soldiers and hid the fact that they were pregnant until they gave birth right in camp. That is such a stunning thing. How did they ever manage such a feat?



 Posted: Wed May 13th, 2009 03:59 am
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Dear Cleburne et al.

You'll be pleased to know that a documentary on Velazquez, "Rebel" will hopefully be featured on PBS in the fall. It's been a long time coming as the producer had a hard time raising funds, quel surprise.

I just found Annie Etheridge Hooks's gravesite the other night, a double marker with her husband, in Arlington Cemetery. See http://www.findagrave.com. One day when I have the time and energy, I'd like to begin a campaign to award her the Medal of Honor. She was in 26 battles with the Army of the Potomac, on the field most of the time, as basically a battlefield medic.

See my "Springing to the Call" website, go to Documents and see my transcription of Mary Ann Pitman's deposition given to a US provost marshal. But what I left out was the questioning at the end where she discusses Nathan Bedford Forrest and makes an offer to help capture him. Go to the ORA cited, it's online via Cornell Univ.

The saddest case I know of is from the Chicago Tribune--a reporter found a 13 year old drummer girl wounded in the hospital. She enlisted with her 3 brothers, as their parents had died. By the time she was wounded all of her brothers had been killed.

CKL




 Posted: Wed May 13th, 2009 02:41 pm
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cklarson wrote: The saddest case I know of is from the Chicago Tribune--a reporter found a 13 year old drummer girl wounded in the hospital. She enlisted with her 3 brothers, as their parents had died. By the time she was wounded all of her brothers had been killed.

CKL




That is heartbreaking. I wonder whatever became of her. Orphans had a rough, rough time of it in those days. These days too, come to think of it.

Pittman is an interesting woman too. She actually rode with Forrest, as I understand it. She would have had to be an excellent cavalrywoman in order to meet his standards. I didn't know, however, that she ever offered to help catch him!

Ms Larson, you are very well informed on these matters. I have a question if you don't mind. I've been rereading my copy of "They Fought Like Demons." The word rape is mentioned only once in the entire book!  That staggers my imagination. I just can't believe that there is only one recorded instance of attempted rape ( and the book does say  "attempted") in the entire four years of the Civil War.

My own guess is that many young women who would be discovered in the military dressed as males would face a trial by fire, assault at the very least if not actual rape. Why would there be no record anywhere of such abuses?

Women in the military today, even women officers and officer candidates, face abuse from males. Why would the Civil War have been any different?  

Last edited on Wed May 13th, 2009 02:42 pm by CleburneFan



 Posted: Thu May 14th, 2009 06:03 am
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cklarson
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[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
actions.][/size][/b]
[size=
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]
[size=
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][/b]
[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][/b]
[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
prostitution.][/size][/b]
[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
years.][/size][/b]
[size=
CKL
][/size][/b]
[size= ][/size][/b]



 Posted: Thu May 14th, 2009 04:06 pm
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CleburneFan
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Fascinating discussion. It certainly covers many aspects of the subject of rape both in the military and out of it.

What a horrific story of the woman POW who was raped while suffering from the thoes of cholera! I guess the dumba** who raped her didn't think he would get it too. I certainly hope he did!

I have considered this problem and thought perhaps some of the women who entered the military would not have been enticing tragets for rape being that at least some were mannish in aspect and deportment---cursing, gambling, drunking and brawling. But others were said to be very comely, even beautiful. The biggest "sins" they committed were wearing men's clothing and developing deep tans from constant exposure to the sun.

I suspect the reason wearing men's clothing was considered such an affront is that it meant a "lowly" woman was wearing the markers of a privileged class--males. It would be as if a slave had somehow dyed his skin white and was "passing" as the putative "higher" class of slave owners. Thus a woman suddenly became entitled to the rights and privileges of a man, but all she had done to earn these rights was change her clothes! After all, the males had earned the right by dint of having been BORN males.

I laughed at references to women being arrested for the crime of wearing men's clothes. That was the only charge their captors could think of. Why would it be a crime? Only because a woman was falsely assuming a higher rank in society's scale of human value. That is what I surmise.

Another possible reason a woman in the military was less subject to being raped than in today's military (If indeed that was the case) is that the men of those times thought twice about raping a woman who had unquestionably demonstrated that she could shoot, swing a sword, ride horseback in cavalry charges, shoot artillery and possible field dress foraged live stock. Men weren't accustomed to a woman's possessing such martial skills then. I imagine it gave them pause.

But I also imagine that rape was greatly under-reported in Victorian times to "protect" the victim from others knowing she had been violated. In those times the shame of rape was very much on the woman, just as even now when people still are known to comment of a rape victim,"She was asking for it. Look how she was dressed. Look how she behaved. She was drunk. She was a skank," and so on.

Thank you Ms Larson for taking the time to post all that research material. I learned a lot. It was all food for thought.

Last edited on Thu May 14th, 2009 04:08 pm by CleburneFan



 Posted: Fri May 15th, 2009 06:42 am
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cklarson
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Dear Cleburne,

A couple of more thoughts.

I'm not so sure rape was so under reported although as whole I'm sure it was. The
reasons are: 1) women were chaperoned or supposed to be and while dating not often left alone with a suitor; 2) in the army, as the one example shows, rape was a capital offense which might have served as a deterent. As to the former, some writers have claimed that the chaperone bit was scriptural "the Pauline restriction"--not even sure what St. Paul saying that refers to. But I think more to the point was that in cities like NYC, the streets were so dark, with criminals lurking, and carriages abounding, to say nothing of pigs and stray cows, that a woman did need an escort. So it was assumed that if a woman was out alone she didn't come from a good enough family to provide her an escort, at least at night. In the Midwest on the other hand, most families were young so there were not enough men to go around to escort women. Hence, the women drove carriages, rode horses, and rowed canoes. In So. IL, women raced in mixed gender horse races even (see Mary Logan's memoir).

As to wearing men's dress, contrary to some scholars who seem to think that these women were outrageous and way out on the limb of feminine thinking, again, the real point was that they weren't stupid. It did not take a genius to figure out that just by changing clothes one won: freedom, independence, physical protection, a chance at high paying jobs, ability to travel, etc. Before the war, Emma Edmonds posed as a male bookseller in Hartford, had her own carriage and the time of her life. She was the most popoular date in town!

CKL



 Posted: Fri May 15th, 2009 01:35 pm
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CleburneFan
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Plus, men's clothing was far more comfortable and far more practical than women's clothing at those times. Even these times, in fact! Who wants to wear six inch heels and how comfortable are push up bras and panty hosereally, especially in the summer heat?

Men were and are much smarter about clothing. They don't subject themsleves to such torture, although Hubby does say a necktie is the ultimate torture. He refuses to wear one except under the most extreme circumstances that require it for decorum.



 Posted: Sat May 16th, 2009 01:15 am
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It occured to me this afternoon that the women of the Civil War military deserve a monument of their own... a big monument. Washington DC would be a good place for it. Arlington Cemetery would be another place.  The monument could have several large sides. Known names of women who served and their aliases could be on one side.  Maybe Union women on one side and Conferate women on another side.

Women who are unknown could have a special plaque for unknown women Civil War solidiers. Then their could also be a plaque for the women who served in the war but were never detected as female soldiers. Of course, their names and numbers are not known.

 



 Posted: Sun May 17th, 2009 07:34 am
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Dear Cleburne et al.,

Although not specifically meant for soldiers, there is a very large monument to the women of the CW in Washington, D. C., but most are clueless. Any guess as to what or where it might be?

Then there is the Women's Military Memorial in Arlington, dedicated to all military women and the Vietnam nurses' memorial near the Korean Memorial.

Again, my first priority would be getting a couple of women medaled: Mary Bickerdyke, Sanitary Commission, not sure what as she was not in the military per se, although perhaps her stint as matron of Gayoso Hospital in Memphis would make her a civilian employee, therefore eligible for ?; and Annie Etheridge, as noted above.

CKL



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