Civil War Women

2530 Words11 Pages
In thinking about the ramifications of the Civil War, it is common to think about it as a war to end slavery. However, it was not only the lives of black people that changed dramatically after the Civil War. The Civil War had a drastic socioeconomic impact on the way of life in the Southern States, especially on the lives of Southern women. Author Drew Gilpin Faust in her historical work, Mothers of Invention, argues that the Civil War lead to a change in the role of the women of the slaveholding South. This thesis includes the idea that women were forced to reconsider their images, identities, relationship with men and role in society. This secondary source, covering the Civil War period from approximately 1861-65 is based upon the diaries,…show more content…
Female roles (and Bacot’s) were to increase with the appearance of a high number of sick and wounded soldiers requiring medical attention, and Ada Bacot answered the call for nurses. Of interest, in the mid 1800’s, nursing had been considered as a form of employment appropriate for lower class people, especially males. The lack of an available male employment base and increasing casualties pushed women into the nursing field. “Eager to be useful, southern women greeted the appearance of unexpected numbers of sick and wounded soldiers in the summer of 1861 as an opportunity for action, an eagerly sought means of contributing to the Cause” (Faust 93). In December of 1861, Ada Bacot listened to a Dr. Barnwell speak regarding the need for nurses in the hospitals of Virginia. Bacot wrote in her diary, “…I think I will have to go back with him, his request for nurses was too earnest to be revisited” (Bacot 59). In Charlottesville (Virginia) four months later, busy with nursing wounded and ill Confederate soldiers, Bacot writes, “The work goes heavily on, & I am very well & happy” (Bacot 103). Despite the contentment that Bacot derived from nursing, Faust notes that women “did not volunteer for hospital work in the numbers needed in the face of mounting casualties” (Faust 108). The postulated reasons for this ranged from still fearing that this was not a female job, danger of losing their lives, leaving family and home comforts, and responsibilities to children. Women serving in more permanent hospital positions tended to be more “independent” (Faust 110). This was certainly the case for Ada Bacot who was a widow and had lost her only child. Despite missing South Carolina and her relatives there, she did not have any major responsibilities in South Carolina and felt she was a more valuable person in her nursing role. At the end of August 1862
Open Document