Masters Thesis

Female soldiers in the Civil War: shattering gender norms

Few historians have investigated women who contributed to the Civil War by fighting as soldiers. It is estimated that between 250-500 women served as soldiers in the war, although the exact number cannot be known. Women joined the fight for a variety of reasons including patriotism, adventure, money, and love. They faced a daunting variety of challenges from having to adopt a male disguise and identity to enlisting and maintaining their disguises in camps and battles. However, women brought a range of skills that helped in the tasks assigned to them. While some women were caught and discharged, countless others were not. Ultimately, the women who fought proved themselves just as capable as male soldiers, and their transgendered self-identity offered a unique perspective on soldiering. Stories of woman warriors captivated the public, shattering traditional gender norms.