The Secret Women of the Civil War
To transcend gender, through loyalty on both sides of the American Civil War, was the women who disguised themselves as men to fight alongside in this bloodiest of wars raging.
To get around the law preventing women from fighting, hundreds upon hundreds of such women took to a male disguise of the time, risking being sent home and even prison, some even keeping up this disguise for many years afterwards. Some identities were kept and some were widely known about amongst their fellow soldiers.
The perception of equals in today’s standards was far different to the time of a far lower esteem women held in the eyes of most men of the time, hence being the Victorian Era. A woman’s place was in the domestic realm and this was all there was to it. Among the daring and forbidden nature of such actions by these women, it is also common knowledge now of such similar patriotic daringness to have taken place in the Revolutionary War.
Physical entry exams were extremely easy to pass, an ability to hold a gun and a reasonable amount of teeth in the head would suffice. Also the physical likeliness between these secret women and often the teenage boys they were often fighting alongside made it easy.
Taking on these identities gave these ‘countless’ women freedom they usually would never enjoy. Women’s Suffrage, still well over fifty years away, these women could manage a male monthly income with freedom only a male soldier could enjoy. These identities these women took on, kept up long after the war was over, and some even kept their secret male identities until the day they died.
One strong motivation for this new male soldier role-play was brand new Adventures never allowed or enjoyed before, although primarily their deep personal reasons were simply money they never experienced, along with patriotism and adventure.
Average soldier income was $13 a month, this was far more than any woman could earn in the real world at this time.
Knowledge of this among many male soldiers was common and wasn’t a very well kept secret. For many years after the war there have been many articles and letters written on their secret identities and their incredible wartime experiences.
The United States of America Army of 1909 officially denied ALL knowledge of such ‘Unearthly Facts’.