Northern Women’s Role In The Civil War

Women have always played an essential part in the social, economic, and political role in America. They have always found many ways to stand out in American history, despite the restrictions given to them that put them into limiting and stereotypical roles. However, women have very critical roles that shaped the future and the success of the American territory. This idea was proven immensely, especially during the mid-1800s when the Civil War took place. During the civil war, women in the North played many roles that helped the Union become as successful as it was (highlighted).

This paper will include, what roles the women played during the civil war, African American women in the Union, and specific women that shaped the future of America during this time. The importance of The Union women during this time is too great to be overlooked because their hard work helped lead to the surrender of the Confederate states.

It is believed that the Civil War was one of the wars that women have been the most involved in.

There is a great variety of roles that women took part in. They were now, more than ever able to do things and create new paths for them and their future. Women were included in a variety of methods to help during the Civil War such as: disguising themselves and participating in the war, serving as nurses (a predominantly male profession before the Civil War), being activists against slavery, and vouching for American civil rights.

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The roles for the ladies serving for the Union changed throughout the course of the war. At first, they were forced to stick to their domestic Women were given the opportunity to seek more industrial work as Union men were participating in the war. According to Olivia Brown, who wrote Women Soldiers of the Civil War, ‘as men entered the Union army, women’s proportion of the manufacturing workforce went from one-fourth to one-third.’ Women who were a part of the Union did not experience as much violence fighting in the Civil war compared to the Women in the Confederate states.

African American women had an important role when it came to the success of the Union as well. Enslaved women would often escape their southern plantations and try to find safety in the north. However, there were still many enslaved black women in the south who worked in the hospitals there. An exception to this was a freed slave named, Susie King Taylor. She worked as a slave growing up, and later became one of the first African American nurses and worked in the state of Georgia for the Union. She was a brave African American woman because she taught slaves how to read and write at a school she ran herself. She became well known for her work as Reminiscences of My Life in Camp, which was a book written about her experience in serving in the civil war with the Union. Susie King Taylor was one example of how the Union side affected an African American Woman.

During the Civil War, many strong and healthy women fought on the Union’s side. They were important because they served other by trying to fight for the Union and abolish slavery, serving the wounded, also trying to reach a common goal of making a brighter future for all minorities in America. One of these women includes Harriet Beecher Stowe. Harriet was one of the most well-known abolitionists in the North. She was known for the novel that she wrote in 1852 called Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was one of the best selling books in the 19th century. It had such a significant impact on others because it gave people who sided with the Union a reason to want to win the war and abolish slavery. The book talked about how people’s love through Christianity is too strong to be dehumanizing enslaved African Americans in this way. Another important woman during this time was Clara Barton. Clara founded the American Red Cross and helped all types of soldiers. Like previously mentioned in this paper, women did not have professional training for these specific jobs because it was only during the Civil War that they started to take over jobs the men used to have. Furthermore, there was not a whole lot of formal education for professions such as nursing. With this being said, Clara Barton created a change by sharing her knowledge about health and nursing to other women. One other example of a woman from the Northern states that shaped the country is Louisa May Alcott, who wrote the book Little Women, which is still a best-selling book today. Along with that, she was also a nurse during the Civil War and applied her experience to her writings. These three women were just a few examples of women that helped shape our country for the better by thinking selflessly and justly.

The Civil War was a horrible time where men and women, slaves (free and enslaved), natives, and newcomers all had to pick one side or the other (Union or Confederacy). This lead to many regional rivalries, and a strong liking for people who did not agree with their point of view. However, women who stood with the Union tried to use their gifts and knowledge towards something that would benefit the country collectively. These women helped win the war for North not just by preserving the Union, but also creating a positive national social impact.

Works Cited

  1. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 10 Aug. 2018,
  2. Cohen, Joanna. “Army at Home: Women and the Civil War on the Northern Home Front.” American Nineteenth Century History, vol. 12, no. 3, Sept. 2011, pp. 362–364. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/14664658.2011.631382.
  3. “Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House.” Louisa May Alcott Text,
  4. Olivia Brown, Women Soldiers of the Civil War, 2012.
  5. “Northern Women.” The Journal of the Civil War Era,
  6. “Women Amidst War (U.S. National Park Service).” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior,
  7. “Women in War.” American Battlefield Trust, 17 Jan. 2019,
  8. “Women in the North.” Omeka RSS,—civilians/women-in-the-north.

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