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Daily life

Women during the war

Two women and a young boy stand outside a cabin in Petersburg. / Library of Congress

Women during the Civil War took on many roles that had not been available to them before the conflict began.

Most women stayed with their homes and families while the men went off to war. They were needed to take on the task of running the farms and plantations or businesses, working in the factories, or taking care of the homefront.

Women were given extraordinary responsibility while the men fought, and they aided the war effort in whatever way they could, such as sewing a uniform or providing shelter for weary soldiers.

Nurses and officers of the U.S. Sanitary Commission in Fredericksburg. / Library of Congress

Some women joined the war in other ways. Many became nurses - very badly needed - and followed the armies as they trudged through the battles and occupied cities. Clara Barton became one of the most famous nurses during the Civil War. She later created the American Red Cross.

Other women during the war became spies and found out important information about the enemy, and some even dressed up as men to be able to put on a uniform and fight alongside their comrades in battle.

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