Anna Dickinson (1842-1932)
At the age of 13, Anna Dickinson had her views published in The Liberator. At 19, she got a job at the US Mint in Philadelphia. That same year she spoke before a crowd of 800 people. By the next year, she spoke at Boston Music Hall to a crowd five times that size. Her reputation grew and the Republican State Committee hired her as a campaign speaker. She went on to become the first woman to deliver an address in the House of Representatives to members of Congress and their guests.
Clara Barton (1821-1912)
Clara Barton was a school teacher for 15 years. With the outbreak of the Civil War, she organized relief for the wounded. She pushed through army restrictions and government bureaucracy to bring medical supplies to battle scenes and field hospitals. Often arriving ahead of military medical units, she earned the title of "Angel of the Battlefield." Her humanitarian efforts didn't end with the war. She helped locate thousands of missing soldiers, including identifying the dead at Andersonville prison in George. At age 60, she founded the American Red Cross and lead it for the next 23 years.
Dorothea Dix (1802-1887)
Working tirelessly to draw attention to the horrendous treatment of the mentally ill in prisons and asylums, her "moral treatment" crusade brought about mental hospital reform in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York. During the Civil War, she was appointed Superintendent of Army Nurses by the Union Army. She was responsible for setting up training programs, field hospitals, first-aid stations, recruiting nurses, and managing supplies. Her nurses extended their compassion to Confederate wounded as well, often providing the only care they received.
Dr. Mary Walker (1832-1919)
She is the only women and the only civilian to receive the Medal of Honor for her service on the battlefield. At the start of the conflict, she went to Washington to join the Union Army but was denied a commission as a medical officer. She served as an unpaid volunteer surgeon at the US Patent Office Hospital and later as an unpaid field surgeon near the front lines. Finally, in 1863, she was commission as a "Contract Acting Assistant Surgeon (civilian)" by the Army of the Cumberland. She often crossed enemy lines to treat civilians, and in 1864 was arrested for spying by the Confederates. She was held for four months in a prison near Richmond, until a prisoner exchanged was arranged. After the war, she became a writer and lecturer, expounding women's rights and dress reform, being arrested several times for wearing full male apparel.
Harriet Tubman (1820-1913)
Born into slavery, she escaped to Philadelphia a the age of 29. She returned to the South several times, rescuing nearly 70 enslaved family and friends. When the Civil War began, she went to work for the Union Army. Over the years she served as a cook, nurse, scout and spy. She guided the raid on Combahee River, being the first women to lead an armed expedition in the war effort. Later in life she was active in the women's suffrage movement. She was buried with military honors at Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn.
Jennie Hodgers aka Albert DJ Cashier (1843-1915)>
Jennie Hodgers is one of the most famous female soldiers of the Civil War. Dressing as a male, she enlisted as Albert Cashier with the 95th Illinois Infantry. She fought in forty battles, managed to avoid detection when treated for diarrhea and when captured by the Confederates (thanks to a speedy escape). Of the 900 men who mustered into the 95th Illinois Infantry in 1862, only 153 were still in the regiment by the end of the war. Private Cashier served a full enlistment and went on to maintain her life as a man after the war. Her secret was finally discovered when she broke a leg in 1910. She was committed to a State Hospital where she was forced to dress as a women (which caused a injury that resulted in her death). His friends made sure "Albert" was buried in his uniform, with full military honors.
Kady Brownell (1842-1915)
Following her husband into the army, Colonel Ambrose Burnside made her a Daughter of the Regiment and Color Bearer. She was an active participant in the First Battle of Bull Run. After mustering out of the 1st Rhode Island Infantry, the Brownells re-enlisted in the 5th Rhode Island Battalion. At the Battle of New Bern, she ran between two groups of friendly fire to warn them of their mistake. (The Rhode Island Infantry was wearing grey hats.) She was the only female to receive discharge paper from the Union Army. She became a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and received a monthly pension.
Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)
She served a brief time as a Civil War nurse, but is best known for being the author of Little Women, which was an immediate commercial and critical success. The book has been made into six films (two were silent versions), four television series and a Broadway musical.
Sarah Malinda Blalock (1839-1901)
Malinda and her husband, Keith, enlisted in the Confederate army. Malinda cut her hair and disguised herself as "Sam" (Kieth's younger brother). Keith had planned to desert at the first opportunity and join the Union but as they were stationed in Kinston, NC, they were too far from Union lines. When Malinda got wounded, Keith knew her sex would be revealed. To remain with her, he rolled in poison oak to get a medical discharge. They returned home; when he was later discovered to be healthy, Confederate agents wanted him to re-enlist. The pair choose to become fugitives in the mountains. They became the most feared bushwhackers of the western North Carolina Mountains. Malinda is one of only two women "known" to have served in any North Carolina Confederate regiment.
Marie Tepe (1834-1901)
Mary was a Civil War Vivandiere; a French immigrant married to a Philadelphia tailor, she followed her husband to war. Vivandieres were a combination nurse, cook, seamstress and laundress who travelled with the Zouaves. When her husband and some buddies broke into her tent and stole her money, she left him and his regiment. In 1862, she joined the 114th Pennsylvania and became known as "French Mary" adopting the Zouave style of uniform. A bullet to her ankle at the Battle of Fredericksburg made her a decorated soldier. She also received the Kearny Cross after the Battle of Chancellorsville for helping to organize a field hospital.
Mary Livermore (1820-1905)
In her autobiography, The Story of My Life, she lists her occupations as: teacher, author, wife, mother, army nurse, soldier's friend, lecturer and reformer. Near the beginning of the Civil War, she became the director of the Northwestern branch of the US Sanitary Commission (USCC). The USCC checked and shipped donations, coordinated volunteers and medical care, and established sanitary procedures for hospitals and army camps. Besides working in the Chicago office, she traveled frequently behind Union lines, tending to the wounded. Her war work, catapulted her into working for women suffrage. The war proved women were capable of achieving great things and the country was denying them the civil rights they helped to win for the black men. She was also the founding president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union in Massachusetts, holding the job for 10 years.
Mary Ann Bickerdyke (1817-1901)
Her tireless dedication to caring for sick and wounded Union soldiers, earned her the respect and affection of veterans who nick-named her Mother Bickerdyke. She was present at 19 battles, including Shiloh, the Battle of Vicksburg, and Sherman's March to the Sea. Not only working as a nurse, but also setting up dietary kitchens, establishing laundry services and and helping to build 300 hospitals. Not stopping at wars end, she fought the system and help to secure federal pensions for numerous veterans and more than 300 nurses. In 1886, she received a special pension from Congress of $25 a month.
Pauline Cushman (1847-1893)
While part of a theatrical troupe in Union controlled Louisville, KY, she was fired from her acting job for being a Southern sympathizer. This put her in a great position to work as a Union spy. She became a camp follower touring with the Confederate Army, obtaining information of value for the Federal Army. At one point, she was caught with secret papers, tried and sentence to death. Three days before her scheduled hanging, the area was invaded by Union troops, thus saving her life. President Lincoln gave her an honorary commission of Brevet-Major. When she died, at the age of 60, she was buried with military honors.
Sara Wakeman aka Lyons Wakeman (1841-1898)
Sarah Wakeman's experience is well documented in letters mailed to her family. Enlisting as Lyons Wakeman in the 153rd New York Volunteer Infantry, she proved herself in several battles. Private Lyons Wakeman died of chronic diarrhea during the war and is buried under military headstone 4066 in Chalmette National Cemetery in New Orleans. There is no record of her true sex ever having been discovered. The book, An Uncommon Soldier by Lauren Cook Burgess (published in 1994) contains Sara's letters; it's a wonderful read.
Sarah Emma Edmonds aka Franklin Flint Thompson (1841-1898)
Sarah Edmonds mustered into the 2nd Michigan Infantry under her alias, Franklin Fling Thompson, partaking in several battles and serving as a spy. During the Battle of Second Manassas she broke a leg. In 1863, she contracted malaria; when denied a medical furlough, she deserted in order to keep her sex a secret. After recovering, she couldn't return to the army as Franklin was a deserter, so she worked in the US Christian Commission as a female nurse until the end of the war. In 1864, she published her memoirs, Nurse and Spy in the Union Army (still in print), donating the profits to soldier aid groups. In 1897, she was admitted into the Grand Army of the Republic as their only woman member. Three years after her death, she was re-buried with military honors at Washington Cemetery in Houston.
Sister Mary Anthony O'Connell (1814-1897)Mary O'Connell is known as the Florence Nightingale of America; her portrait hands in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. She and her fellow nuns were committed to helping soldiers of both armies; she would drag wounded soldiers off the battlefield. During the battle of Fort Donelson, she devised a method to move severely wounded to floating hospitals ships, thus creating the first recognizably modern triage techniques in a war zone. After the war, Sister Anthony tended to the poor and sick at Good Samaritan Hospital and St. Joseph Infant and Maternity home, dying on her 83rd birthday.
Susie King Taylor (1848-1912)
Susie Baker King Taylor was the only Black women to publish her Civil War memoirs, Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33rd United States Colored Troops, Late 1st SC Volunteers (still in print). For three years she moved with her husband's and brothers' regiment, serving as laundress, nurse and teacher. She also was the first African American to openly teach former slaves in Georgia.
According to the Civil War Trust: "Women stood a smaller chance of being discovered than one might think. Most of the people who fought in the war were "citizen soldiers" with no prior military training--men and women alike learned the ways of soldiering at the same pace. Prevailing Victorian sentiments compelled most soldiers to sleep clothed, bathe separately, and avoid public latrines. Heavy, ill-fitting clothing concealed body shape. The inability to grow a beard would usually be attributed to youth." Recent research indicates that 500-1,000 women went into military service disguised as men.