Why Gender Matters to the Civil War

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

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4 comments… add one
  • Marianne Davis Sep 27, 2010 @ 13:14

    I had some technical problems with this one, but I wonder if this lecture was not a precis of her fascinating book “Gender and the Sectional Conflict.” While we all might cavil with “Sectional Conflict,” Silber makes a strong case for the difference between Northern and Southern white men in the way they thought of home. She also stressed that the”Yankee pledge to public schools” had given Northern women a different view of themselves.
    But ultiately, it’s the same old story. Women, like men, have long been called upon to meet difficult situations. Both men and women have survived appalling privation. The difference between the genders is that people continue to be surprised when women do so. Remember too, that just as the USCTs had to have white officers, the Sanitary Commission had to be directed by men. The women of the Civil War seem to have been like the Women’s Land Army in Britain or our own Rosie the Riveters. They rose to the occasion and then, no longer needed, returned to being somewhat troublesome flowers.

    • Kevin Levin Sep 27, 2010 @ 13:19

      It is to a certain extent. The book you reference is based on a series of lectures she did at Penn State a few years ago. It goes without saying that her scholarship goes much further than the content of this lecture.

  • Dick Stanley Sep 27, 2010 @ 9:41

    Wonderful, Kevin. Thanks. I’d never really thought about the condition of Northern women during the war and how the government undermined their post-war contribution by building/maintaining cemeteries and memorials, whereas Southern women had to do those things themselves.

    • Andy Hall Sep 27, 2010 @ 11:53

      You’d enjoy Drew Gilpin Faust’s This Republic of Suffering,” which deals extensively with the establishment of cemeteries, North and South.

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