Women Who Served in the Civil War Cavalry

It is impossible to state with any certainty how many women served as cavalry soldiers in the Union and Confederate armies. The cavalry was considered more glamorous than infantry and artillery, but females who made it in the cavalry had to be excellent horsewomen, in addition to their other soldierly duties. Stories romanticizing their adventurous spirits and extolling their patriotism appeared in the New York Times, the Richmond Examiner and the Chicago …Read More...

Battle of Spotsylvania Court House

On May 7, 1864, after two days of brutal fighting failed to produce a victory at The Wilderness, previous Union commanders would have chosen to withdraw behind the Rappahannock River. But General Ulysses S. Grant ordered General George Meade to move around Lee's right flank and seize the important crossroads at Spotsylvania Court House to the southeast.

Image: Bonnie Blue Flag by Don Troiani
Mule Shoe, Spotsylvania Court House, May 12, 1864

Women Smugglers in Hoop Skirts

Civil War women smugglers carried weapons, ammunition, medicine and food across enemy lines. Some patriotic women brought fashion into the war effort, using their skirts to conceal all sorts of supplies, and they often attached these items to the frame of their hoop skirts. One Union official called them fashionable women spies.

Image: Hoop Skirt Smugglers
Seated: Annie Hempstone, Colonel Elijah White and Elizabeth White
Standing, second row: Kate and Betsie Ball

Farm on the Gettysburg Battlefield

Gettysburg farmer James Leister died in 1859, leaving his wife Lydia Leister and five children, ranging in age from 21 to 3. In March 1861, the widow Leister purchased a nine acre farm on Taneytown Road from Henry Bishop, Sr. for the sum of $900. The property included a modest, wood frame house with a single fireplace, two rooms and a stairway that lead to a small loft.

Image: Restored Lydia Leister Farm today

Two Women Diarists Tell the Story

The Battle of Baton Rouge might have been considered small or insignificant by Civil War standards, but to the women who lived in that city, it was traumatic. Twice they were forced to flee from their homes when Union gunboats in the Mississippi River shelled their town.

Image: Civilians, including a young girl in the foreground, survey damage in Baton Rouge after the battle there in August 1862.

The Union Navy captured …

Women Who Lost Husbands in the Civil War

Approximately 620,000 soldiers died in the American Civil War. The Union lost around 360,000 soldiers - 110,000 killed in combat; the Confederacy lost around 260,000 men - 93,000 killed in combat. Disease killed the rest. While not all of these soldiers were married, the War created an unprecedented number of young white widows, many of whom had been married for a very short time.

Image: Tintype of Union Widow Adelia Springer and …