Women in the Civil War: Impact of Civil War on the Role of Women in Society



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Throughout the history of the world, women play a key role in maintaining social stability. They lead in both short-term and long-term developments of different nations. Besides, as Culpepper (1991) observed, women, performed and still perform diligently in spearheading growth in agriculture and trade, curbing poverty in developing nations. Women proceed to make important decisions in the family, e.g., diet, preserving good health in children, keeping homes cleans, and taking good care of their husbands submissively. The role played by women before, during, and after civil wars just improved but never changed. Modern women are not only caretakers of their homes, but they also attend school, therefore, improving their status and raising the living standards of both men and children. The ability of women to participate in the informal sector of work in the early days shaped them a great deal in advancing the innovative ways of improving gender equity and equality through empowering women. Women’s involvement during the civil war in helping the soldiers on the battlefield by offering emotional, physical support exposed their strengths in handling issues without being undermined (Silber, 1993). Comment by Krutsinger, Cynthia (CCCS): You need to place this in time and space. You have been speaking about civil wars in general throughout the introduction, so you need this to concretely relate to the US Civil War and the period of time in which that occurred. Comment by Krutsinger, Cynthia (CCCS): PN Comment by Krutsinger, Cynthia (CCCS): Don’t cite your thesis. If you need to cite your thesis then it isn’t your own idea or argument and you should probably look at revising it.

Women might not be in the same position as men in terms of opportunities, but the historic, current, and future role of women in society is not disputable. Women can now hold positions in leadership. According to Lincoln (2012), by participating in voluntary work, they offer psycho-social support, educate society on and health education, provide girls with scholarships, and ensure girls’ bathrooms are included during school construction. Women in the early days could not participate in any decision-making at any level. Women were practically reduced to silence, but nowadays, they can comfortably express their opinions on peacebuilding, preventing conflict, and mitigation freely. The civil war began the process of change from a culture that undermined women into a culture that holds the values, rights and dignities of women, and believes in their crucial role in economic and social development. The purpose of this paper is to determine how the civil war influenced change in the role of women in the society. Comment by Krutsinger, Cynthia (CCCS): Are you talking about today or during the Civil War? If you are writing about history, use past tense. Comment by Krutsinger, Cynthia (CCCS): What does this have to do with the US Civil War? Comment by Krutsinger, Cynthia (CCCS): PN Comment by Krutsinger, Cynthia (CCCS): In a historical paper, do not state “the purpose of”. Instead, you need to make a concrete argument – The Civil War influenced changes in the role of women in US society as seen by x, y, and z.

Role of Women Before the Civil War

Before the Civil War, they engaged most women in basic home chores. They Women were expected to prepare meals, clean, and work as caregivers to make their home suitable for the family and visiting guests. During the nineteenth century, most Americans hypothesized that a regular order in positioned men and women in totally different spheres and thus distinctive women roles in society. The ideal woman in society was required to be submissive, humble, obedient, and a loving wife who was wholly submissive to the men around her (Cook, 2017). However, before the civil war, they did not recognize women’s rights. Women also never took part in making important decisions that could impact themselves, their families, and society as a whole, including decisions on their reproductive health. As a result, there was a struggle for women’s rights with a focused edge in achieving gender equality. Various women stood out for what they believed in: equality rights for women to achieve women’s rights and attain equality in the division of labor during the agricultural and industrial revolution. Comment by Krutsinger, Cynthia (CCCS): PN

Role of Women During the Civil War

During the outbreak of the war, women continued partially with the primary roles they carried out before the civil war, while some women volunteered to take an active role in the war. The women who volunteered in the civil war left their homes and served in various capacities, such as nurses where they flocked in hospitals that received the wounded soldiers and offered their services. It significantly changed the history in the role of women in society as most nurses were initially men but during the civil war. Women were incorporated and thus forged that path for later women. Other women during the civil war went to the camps to take care of their loved ones and nurse their husbands, while some women provided laundry services to the soldiers in the camps. Comment by Krutsinger, Cynthia (CCCS): PN

On the other hand, some women joined the male soldiers, picked up guns, and went to the battlefield to fight against the enemies. On the battlefield, women could cut off their hair, put on male soldier clothing, and passed off as men to hide their identity and fight the enemy back the enemy (Goodman, 2009). Female soldiers on the battlefield also provided intelligence to their fellow male soldiers, where they served as spies and passed essential and secretive information that they gathered from their enemies. Nevertheless, during the civil war, some women lost their husbands in the fight against the enemies. As a result, they took up the responsibility of men in their families by becoming the sole providers and enhanced family safety. At the end of the civil war, women actively took over businesses, became professional nurses, and run their family farms while their women joined other men in the civil war. Other women joined garment-making industries where they sewed uniforms for the soldiers engaged in the civil war and their families. The change was a huge step forward towards women’s independence, their rights, and achieving gender equality which they had been struggling with before the civil war. Positive change in the role of women facilitated abolition of the Victorian’s view on the role women played in the war and the society as a whole. Comment by Krutsinger, Cynthia (CCCS): PN – I stopped marking these here, but you need to apply this change throughout.

Impact of Civil War on Women and Culture

The aftermaths of the civil war were marked by the widespread of the people’s culture, which defined men and women in society. Although the women went back to their homes and into their usual household activities, it was evident they had learned a new lesson (Goodman, 2009). Women had realized that they could do almost as much as their male counterparts could do. They knew that society was imposing on them limitations which they needed to defeat and begin a new chapter of their lives. They began efforts to liberate themselves from that holding and transform their lives.

Men also realized the need to change their perspective on women. Their experience of women in the war field made them realize that women had the ability to do things they were previously weak at and had the will to help build their empires, the economy, and their households. The realization loosened the yoke of restriction and bias that existed earlier. The war also claimed the lives of many men, leaving their wives widowed, and they had to earn income for their families (Cook, 2017). After the civil war, many women went into active business, such as selling butter and sewing, while others accepted their odd jobs. The transformation continued with women joining the security teams in the country, and in 1994, women were allowed to serve in all positions in law enforcement and defense, except roles involving ground combat. Most Western armies began letting women serve in the military as early as the 1970s. Some countries such as Norway appreciated the place and role of women to draft and conscript women on similar terms to those of men (Vik and Buhaug, 2021). The revolution that started with the civil war has led to great changes in gender rights and roles in society.


The civil war was a turning point to women’s rights and society’s view of gender-based responsibilities. Before the war, women were mostly housewives demonstrating submission to their husbands. Their job was to show respect, love, and obedience while taking care of the children and husband. The war provided women with an chance to participate in activities outside the home and explore their potential. Society embraced the changes gradually until a point where they could be involved in the military. After the civil war, many women went into active business, such as selling butter and sewing, while others accepted their odd jobs. The transformation continued with women joining the security teams in the country, and in 1994, women were allowed to serve in all positions in law enforcement and defense, except roles involving ground combat. The transformation continued with women joining the security teams in the country. The revolution that started with the civil war has led to great changes in gender rights and roles in the society.


Cook, R. J. (2017). Civil War Memories: contesting the past in the United States since 1865. JHU Press. Comment by Krutsinger, Cynthia (CCCS): See previous feedback on format and sources.

Culpepper, M. (1991). Trials and Triumphs: The Women of the American Civil War. Michigan State University Press. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.14321/j.ctt9qf4zp.

Goodman, R. (2009). Expanding the Role of Women as during the American Civil War Advances in nursing science, 32(1), 33-34.

Lincoln, M. (2012). Women in the Civil War: Information and Articles about Women in the American Civil War.

Silber, N. (1993). A Woman’s War: Gender and Civil War Studies. OAH Magazine of History.

Vik, B. and Buhaug, H. (2021). Civil War and Female Empowerment. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 65(5), 982-1009.

While this is quite a good paper in general, Fiki, it isn’t well focused on history and most importantly you are missing primary sources. You do need at least two of these for your . The inclusion of primary source evidence to support your arguments would make this a much stronger argument as well. Right now it is quite a surface treatment and doesn’t really prove what you intend. I would recommend finding examples of women whose roles changed for the better and using their words to show this.

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