Indiana Women and the Civil War
A Fourth-Grade Lesson Plan
Prepared by the Indiana Historical Bureau
During the American Civil War, women’s contributions both on and off the battlefield proved as vital to the war effort as was the efforts of the soldiers’ who fought it. Women were engaged in numerous facets of civil, political, and military life in both the North and South. Women on both sides disguised themselves as men and enlisted to fight for their respective side; women made public speeches and published articles, songs, and poems expressing their opinions of the conflict, the opposing side, and the manner in which the war was being conducted. Women readily stepped in to fill the voids left by enlisted men on the farm, in the home, and in the transaction of business. Several women, whether directly affected by the enlistment of a male relative or not, contributed to the war by providing letters, food, and mementos from home to soldiers. They voluntarily wove blankets and clothing to help keep the soldiers warm, and comfortable, and to keep up their strength and morale; and they engaged in social fairs, clubs, and other activities to raise money and collect provisions for the soldiers. Women also contributed greatly to the care of sick and wounded soldiers by staffing the hospitals, traveling with the troops, and even taking up residence on the naval hospital ship Red Rover (becoming the forerunners of the Navy Nurse Corps).
Regardless of the individual activities performed by women during the war, the physical, emotional, and psychological contributions of women were immeasurable to the war effort and the historical accuracy and context in which the American Civil War is remembered and discussed.