When I wove the tale of Summer Rose in disguise as a Civil War soldier in to my novel, some may have thought that my inspiration came purely from my imagination. Not so! There have been many accounts of women, not only camping with troops as nurses and cooks to support their husbands, but also as soldiers who bravely fought alongside the men during the Civil War. Below is an excerpt from a recent article by Sam Smith on the "Civil War Trust" site. Enjoy!
Female Soldiers in the Civil War On the front line
BY SAM SMITH
"The outbreak of the Civil War challenged traditional American notions of feminine submissiveness and domesticity with hundreds of examples of courage, diligence, and self-sacrifice in battle. The war was a formative moment in the early feminist movement.
Frances Clayton disguised herself as "Frances Clalin" to fight in the Civil War. (Library of Congress) In July of 1863, a Union burial detail at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania made a startling discovery near Cemetery Ridge. Among the bodies covering the ground--the wreckage of the Confederate attacks during the battle--the Union men found a dead woman wearing the uniform of a Confederate private.
The burial detail had stumbled upon one of the most intriguing stories of the Civil War: the multitudes of women who fought in the front line.
Although the inherently clandestine nature of the activity makes an accurate count impossible, conservative estimates of female soldiers in the Civil War puts the number somewhere between 400 and 750. Long viewed by historians as anomalies, recent scholarship argues that the women who fought in the Civil War shared the same motivations as their male companions.
Some women went to war in order to share in the trials of their loved ones. Others were stirred by a thirst for adventure, the promise of reliable wages, or ardent patriotism. In the words of Sarah Edmonds Seelye, also known as Franklin Flint Thompson of the 2nd Michigan Infantry: "I could only thank God that I was free and could go forward and work, and I was not obliged to stay at home and weep." Seelye holds the honor of being the only woman to receive a veteran's pension after the war."
Click here to read the entire article and see some great photos of "women in disguise".