‘Women lived in germ-ridden camps – languished in appalling prisons – and died miserably but honorably for their country and their cause – just as men did’.
Conventional narrative has framed the Civil War as a man’s fight with historical accounts focusing almost exclusively on the men who fought as Yanks and Rebs in the 1860s.
But such commonly accepted accounts present like all history a revisionist history that excises the stories of the women who despite the extraordinary obstructions of the era took to the battlefields.
In They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the Civil War (public library), historians DeAnne Blanton and Lauren M. Cook chronicle and contextualize more than 250 documented cases of women who served in the ranks of both the Union and Confederate armies dressed as men – ‘the best-kept historical secret of the Civil War’ —
– an act at once rebellious and patriotic – using this usurped male social identity to claim full status as citizens of their nation and access male independence in an age when neither was available to women.