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Yankee Women : Gender Battles in the Civil War - Elizabeth D. Leonard

Yankee Women

Gender Battles in the Civil War

Paperback Published: 17th September 1995
ISBN: 9780393313727
Number Of Pages: 336

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In Yankee women: Gender Battles in the Civil War, Elizabeth Leonard portrays the multiple ways in which women dedicated themselves to the Union. By delving deeply into the lives of three women - Sophronia Bucklin, Annie Wittenmyer, and Mary Walker - Leonard brings to life the daily manifestations of women's wartime service. Bucklin traveled to the frontline hospitals to nurse the wounded and ill, bearing the hardships along with the men. Wittenmyer extended her antebellum charitable activities to organizing committees to supply goods for the troops in Iowa, setting up orphanages for the children of Union soldiers, and creating and managing special diet kitchens for the sick soldiers. Mary Walker forms her own unique category. A feminist and dress reformer, she became the only woman to sign a contract as a doctor for the Union forces. In hospitals and at the battlefront, she tended the wounded in her capacity as a physician and even endured imprisonment as a spy. In their service to the Union, these women faced not only the normal privations of war but also other challenges that thwarted many of their efforts. Bucklin was more daring than some nurses in confronting those in charge if she felt she was being prevented from doing what was needed for the soldiers under her care. In her memoir, she recounted the frictions between the men and women supposedly toiling for a unified purpose. Wittenmyer, like other women in soldiers' aid, also had to stand up to male challengers. When the governor of Iowa appointed a male-dominated, state sanitary commission in direct conflict with her own Keokuk Ladies' Aid Society, Wittenmyer and the women who worked with her fought successfully to keep theirorganization afloat and get the recognition they deserved. Walker struggled throughout most of the war to be acknowledged as a physician and to receive a surgeon's appointment. Her steadfast will prevailed in getting her a contract but not a commission, and even her contract could

Although at times unevenly woven, this account of three women's struggles to serve the Union adds new texture to the well-worn Civil War metaphor "a house divided." Drawing on their letters and journals as well as formal historical sources, Leonard (History/Colby College) chronicles the lives of three women who battled gender stereotypes in order to participate in the war effort: Sophronia Bucklin, a volunteer nurse; Annie Wittenmyer, a soldiers' aid activist; and Mary Edwards Walker, a licensed physician. Each of the three struggled daily against their male co-workers and superiors, who operated under a rigid set of assumptions about women's abilities (for self-sacrificing nurture, not compensated service) and proper place (maintaining home and hearth, not participating in war). Bucklin persevered even though she, like other nurses at the front, was denied pay and expected to perform menial jobs. Male stubbornness obstructed Wittenmyer in her efforts to institutionalize services; even her Special Diet kitchens, attached to army hospitals, met with stubborn opposition, probably because they offered paid, public work for women. Despite achieving the respect of army officials in the field, Walker was repeatedly rebuffed in her applications for a formal commission. Leonard describes how all three of her subjects helped create new possibilities for women after the war, but she especially appreciates Walker's radical assault on gender prescriptions - her pursuit of a paid commission, heroism on the bloodiest battle fronts, and insistence on practical, "un-womanly" attire. While postbellum accounts of women and the war commended both Bucklin and Wittenmyer, Walker was denigrated as a "freak" or a "crank." This discrepancy, in Leonard's radical feminist view, attests to the singular strength of Walker's character and demands historical notice. Despite some narrative discord arising from the uneasy mix of broad cultural generalizations and minute historical details, a valuable contribution to our understanding of the durability and vulnerability of ideas about gender in the 19th century. (Kirkus Reviews)

Acknowledgments
Introduction
"No Place for Woman"?: Sophronia Bucklin and Civil War Nursingp. 3
"Men Did Not Take to the Musket More Commonly Than Women to the Needle": Annie Wittemyer and Soldier's Aidp. 51
"A Thing That Nothing But the Depraved Yankee Nation Could Produce": Mary Walker, M.D., and the Limits of Tolerancep. 105
The Women and the Storytellers After the Warp. 159
Conclusionp. 195
Notesp. 203
Select Bibliographyp. 285
Indexp. 299
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780393313727
ISBN-10: 0393313727
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 336
Published: 17th September 1995
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 20.88 x 14.05  x 2.52
Weight (kg): 0.42