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The Importance Of Women Soldiers In The Civil War

1485 words - 6 pages

Women have been fighting in wars since the late eighteen-hundreds even though until around WWI they were not permitted to serve. Originally women involved in battle had few jobs such as becoming nurses, spies, etc. while the men fought for days on end. What would happen if the two worlds collided? Women would cross-dress to fight alongside the men. This was common along the war front as women wanted to accompany their husbands or other family in battle, and some wanted to be patriotic and serve for their country. These women put their lives on the line and played the part of a comrade in war, and people believed them until they were discovered and sometimes sent back home. Although women had small roles as nurses, those who took on the important role of secretly becoming soldiers in battle ultimately changed women’s roles in society.
The decision to cross-dress wasn’t very easy for many women who joined the army, however for some they felt it was absolutely necessary. As a child, Sara Emma Edmonds received a book about a woman who dressed as a male pirate in the American Revolution. Soon Edmonds had found a hero in this character and later stated in her memoirs that “when [she] read where ‘Fanny’ cut off her brown hair and donned the blue jacket and stepped into the freedom and glorious independence of masculinity, [she] threw up [her] old straw hat and shouted.”(Tsui 7). She had been inspired from an early age and escaped to masculinity when she was fifteen with the help of her mother. From there she joined the Union army as Franklin Thompson and fought as she had intended. Another factor that influenced women and their decision to join the army was their husbands or other male family members. Loreta Janeta Valazquez succumbed to that very situation and presented herself to her husband “under such auspices that he could no longer find an excuse for refusing his content to [her] joining the southern army as a solider” (Tsui 23). She joined the Confederate Army as Lieutenant Harry T. Buford. As Loreta went to meet her husband in Pensacola with her own group of 236 men he was killed in an accident and she left her group, the “Arkansas Grays”, to become an independent soldier. This way she felt she had a better way to “distinguish herself as a hero” (Tsui 29). This was also the outlook of many other women soldiers who felt that if there was any duty they could do it would be to fight in the war. At this time Joan of Arc was a well-known inspiration to many women and many aspired to be her and therefore became soldiers. This made women feel daring and important and fulfilled their desires to be “in motion, to be doing something, to have occupation for mind and body” during this time of stress and not-knowing (Tsui 33). These women knew what they were getting themselves into and as Rosetta Wakemen wrote to her parents, “if it is God[s] will for me to fall in the field of battle, it is my will to go and never return home”(Wakeman 42).Many women joined...

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