The Civil War, seemingly black and white, almost literally, had a bit more going on than what meets the eye. While men were sent off to war, the women, the mothers, the daughters, the wives, were left to fend for themselves and keep everything running smoothly for when the men came back. This part of the war, the one waged within the houses of the soldiers, is something we so often forget and once the war came to a close and amendments were passed and the Blacks received their rights to vote, the women were pushed back aside, all their efforts and hard work gone unnoticed, and most certainly not a the suffrage they were pining for as well.
No matter which side you look at, both the North and the South were in need of more men to strengthen their army, and when all these men left, they left the women in charge. Many women were given the responsibility of providing for the family, or even keeping a business running. They took over all the jobs men would’ve normally done, and they did a pretty good job considering the economically distress came from directly the war itself. Not only that, but they took the step further to helping the war effort itself through a number of ways that may not have been as brutal as fighting but just as important.
Women volunteered. They stood up and bore the onerous struggle of keeping their normal lives going while also supporting and aiding the war effort in any way they could. They became nurses and helped to heal the ill soldiers, even helped develop the U.S. Sanitary Commission which focused on reducing the amount of exposures to avoidable diseases and infections. Thousands of women became nurses to help out during this time and probably the most notable was Dorothea Dix. She became the Superintendent of the US Army Nurses and was described as ” being firm and inflexible, but ran an efficient and effective corps of nurses.”
Women mothered the masses. Not only were women taking car of the men while they were ill, but they also helped provide for the ones still out in war. They grew fruits in vegetables in gardens just meant for the soldiers and canned everything so it could last. They darned the uniforms and washed the clothes and did everything a good mother should for her child. These efforts seem small, but they made a difference and it boosted moral. Having good food in their stomachs and clean socks void of holes are just the little things that keep them going, all the through the end.
So, the women of the Civil War era showed how they could stand up and do the jobs of the men and then some. They showed their strength, their skills, and what did they receive in return? Did they not prove to the men of their country that they were just as vital to the country? Did they not prove to the men of their country that they should be given equal rights as well, and be treated as equal citizens?
I am not attempting to be inconsiderate to the effort of the African Americans who fought long and hard to just gain recognition as human beings opposed to property, I am pointing out the fact that while the United States government may have taken a large step by passing the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendment, there was still a ways to go before true equality would be settled within the country. Such a long way, that 145 years later, the main goal of the 14th amendment is still not truly found in all of the United States, and even some are still fighting for their equality.