A long while back, I was googling something or other when I came across this statistic: at least twelve women on both the Confederate and Union side fought in every major battle of the Civil War. In fact, it was very well known at the time, though history has obscured these brave women. I’ve read quite a lot about this now, as my WIP features one or two of these soldiers. The mind set to get me in my main character’s head, as she suffers from PTSD, boggles me but the more I read and write about her, the more I understand.
There was a couple who lived a few towns over, in Brownsfield. She followed him—not as his laundress or cook, but as a fellow soldier. They both survived and ended their days in Portland, Maine. Many women followed husbands and family members—those from agricultural and hunting families, some who followed their conscience or were looking for adventure…
C is also for Could you do it?
We don’t know exactly how many women were on the battlefields—there was a pushback of shame in some families whose great aunty went to the field, but again, it was a well known phenomenon, though their own letters and journals, unlike those of their fellow male soldiers, are sadly lacking. It makes sense if to keep their secret they needed to cut ties with family and friends, though another reason might be the low literacy rate among them.
Here’s a list of some of the books I’ve been reading:
- An Uncommon Soldier: The Civil War Letters of Sarah Wakeman by Sarah Rosetta Wakeman
- Soldier, Nurse and Spy by Sarah Emma Edmunds
The first two were written by women who fought. Sarah Emma Edmunds donated everything she made from her book to the local veterans hospital.
- They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers of the Civil War by Blanton and Cook
- Cathy Williams: From Slave to Buffalo Soldier by Philip Thomas Tucker
- All The Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies by Elizabeth Leonard
- She Went to the Field: Women Soldiers of the Civil War by Bonnie Tsui
An excellent novel blending history and fact is this one by Erin Lindsay McCabe: