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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: 1st April 1997
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Yankee Woman examines the experiences of women in the Civil War and, in particular, the lives of three courageous and independent women: one a frontline nurse, the second a community organizer, and the third the only woman to serve as a Union army surgeon in the war. Elizabeth Leonard's in-depth research and her ability to spin a captivating tale combine to make Yankee Woman both a fascinating study of gender politics in society and a thoroughly absorbing story-the story of three women ahead of their time.

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: 1st April 1997
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.1 x 14.0  x 2.5
Weight (kg): 0.41