Women, Slaves, and Free Blacks in the Civil War
Women, Slaves and Free Blacks in the Civil War
Name of student
Women, Slaves, and Free Blacks in the Civil War
The following paper seeks to throw light on the situation and role of women, slaves, and free blacks during the Civil War in America. It answers questions pertaining to the role of all, and how the war affected both communities.
Role of women in the Civil War
The Civil War is one of those happenings in the world where women played a significant role. Earlier contributing to society as homemakers, the women of America underwent a huge transformation during the war. Most left their homes and signed up to serve in the war as nurses and volunteers. Women from both the north and the south formed ladies’ aid societies that took it upon themselves to acquire and provide the soldiers with commodities of need. These ranged from food such as baked condiments, plants supplements, canned goods, and vegetables, to basic everyday necessities such as clothes, woolens, socks, and so on. Sometimes, they even conducted charity events, fairs and campaigns to collect money for the soldiers CITATION Tuj14 l 16393 (Tuji, 2014).
For those who wanted to be involved in the war more closely worked as cooks, laundresses and matrons. These women were often known as “Daughters of the Military”, and traveled with camps. Often, women joined up the very same regiments in which a male relative or fiancé would be serving. They also acted as nurses, caretakers, teachers, and even cleaned guns CITATION Mid15 l 16393 (Middle Tennessee State University).
In addition, because they were not expected to have strong political and military opinions, women were also employed as spies for the armies. They often hid messages in their dresses and accessories, later passing them on to soldiers as valuable information CITATION Mid15 l 16393 (Middle Tennessee State University).
Women of the North:
A large number of ladies were inspired by the works of Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War, and wanted to serve as nurses and caretakers on the frontlines. As a result of their tireless persuasions and efforts, the government eventually caved in to form the United States Sanitary Commission, aimed at providing the soldiers with hygienic conditions during the war. By the time the war came to an end, the Commission had supplied soldiers with over 15 million dollars’ worth of help, all collected by charities and organizations led by women CITATION His10 l 16393 (History.com Staff, 2010).
Women of the South:
Southern women played the same roles in the Civil War as their northern counterparts: they formed societies, sent help, and worked as nurses. The only difference was that they had a lot more help from the slaves in their service, especially those belonging to wealthy families. However, the strains of the war forced them to alter their definitions of life as well CITATION Mid15 l 16393 (Middle Tennessee State University).
Impact of the war on women:
The years immediately preceding the Civil War were reformative ones for the women of America. Their mental makeup was shaped by what was called the “Cult of True Womanhood.” Even though they had progressed in terms of knowledge, skills and managing, they were still confined to their houses, playing their roles as dutiful homemakers CITATION His10 l 16393 (History.com Staff, 2010).
The war brought for many a chance to break the shackles of monotony and expectations, and proved to be significant in terms of women empowerment. Women of both the Union and the Confederacy participated in the effort to better their country, be it by traveling with the regiment or from the comfort of their homes. The war taught women to not only be brave, but proactive, confident, and quick thinkers. Many had to take over important positions in their houses, yet others had to make managerial decisions; those on the frontlines had to leave behind modesty. Thus, the war not only transformed their way of life, but also how they treated it.
Role of Slaved Blacks and Free Blacks in the War
Role of slaves in the war
Most of the slaves lived in the Southern parts of the country, serving in households and offices. However, a large portion were also actively involved in the war. Though the Confederate army refused to give the slaves firearms and ammunition, they did entrust them with other tasks. Black slaves transported commodities, and helped their masters accomplish other tasks around the camps. The slaves were entrusted with returning the masters’ possessions to their families in case the latter died. In some cases, a slave was also known to take up arms in his master’s stead after the latter’s demise CITATION Sta15 l 16393 (HistoryNet Staff, n.d.).
The slaved women served primarily in the households, helping their master with chores and remote caretaking. However, some women, who worked at the frontlines, also took up active roles such as sewing and transporting. In spite of that, black women were not allowed to work as nurses, or engage directly with white people CITATION Mid15 l 16393 (Middle Tennessee State University).
Role of freed blacks in the war
Freed slaves were more common in the Union Army and the North than in the Southern Confederate Army. Though they were not slaves themselves, they supported the Union army’s viewpoint regarding the freedom of slaves CITATION Lee15 l 16393 (Lee, n.d.). In fact, at the start of the Civil War, numerous free blacks rushed to volunteer in the army. They were, however, not given a chance to do so, since the law did not permit them to bear arms. However, in 1862, after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freed black men were finally allowed to enlist in the army CITATION Civ15 l 16393 (Civilwar.org staff, n.d.).
Many blacks also served in the army as spies, providing such valuable information to the armies that it was categorized as Black Dispatches. They often traveled with officers posing as their masters, collecting inside news CITATION Sta15 l 16393 (HistoryNet Staff, n.d.).
Impact of the war on the Blacks
Although the war did bring freedom from a long era of oppression, times were not easy for the blacks immediately after the war. Even after being freed, the community had to live in extreme poverty and unemployment. Those who had once served as slaves were now devoid of a house, food and pay. Many were separated from their families. The freed blacks, too, did not have many options to earn a livelihood. The community was not allowed to participate in local politics, and social structure had effectively been divided into two sects: the blacks and whites.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Civilwar.org staff. (n.d.). The Importance of African-American Soldiers in Civil War History. Retrieved Aug 25, 2015, from www.civilwar.org: http://www.civilwar.org/resources/the-importance-of.html
History.com Staff. (2010). Women in the Civil War. (A+E Networks) Retrieved Aug 23, 2015, from History.com: http://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/women-in-the-civil-war
HistoryNet Staff. (n.d.). African Americans in the Civil War. Retrieved Aug 25, 2015, from HistoryNet.com: http://www.historynet.com/african-americans-in-the-civil-war
Lee, S. M. (n.d.). Free Blacks During the Civil War. Retrieved Aug 25, 2015, from Encyclopedia Virginia: http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Free_Blacks_During_the_Civil_War
Middle Tennessee State University. (n.d.). Teaching With Primary Sources – MTSU: Women and the Civil War. Tennessee, United States of America . Retrieved August 23, 2015, from http://library.mtsu.edu/tps/Women_and_the_Civil_War.pdf
Tuji, A. (2014, Feb 12). Northern & Southern Women’s role during the Civil War. Retrieved from https://prezi.com/enksvcolaig2/northern-southern-womens-role-during-the-civil-war/