Women Spies in the American Civil War

2015 Words 9 Pages
With over a half million deaths the most gruesome war in American history drove citizens to action. The suffering during this era was so great many were inspired by nationalism to act. For those who were unable to join the fight upon the battlefield, espionage represented a chance for personal involvement. Although it is believed that many agents never sought recognition for their service, especially Confederate scouts, documentation depicts the espionage present during the American Civil War to be surprisingly sophisticated. By examining the recorded history involving active female intelligence agents in the American Civil War, we can see the roles of female scouts were severely underestimated, frequently encouraged, and generally …show more content…
Furthermore, some women enlisted in the armies disguised as males, others found they could contribute their service to the war through acting as scouts. For those women that enlisted, changing their dress was only a small fraction of the work required to blend in to their brigade. Hiding all feminine characteristics including the ways, in which they walked, talked, sat, and acted was necessary to avoid detection (Eggleston 2). An abundance of radical periodicals and writings intended for a female audience emerged at the beginning of the war (Endres 32). With ample encouragement women found it within their interests to take an active role in the fight. Some, including Elizabeth Van Lew, simply desired for the feuding between the regions to end and found espionage to be their contribution (Kane 235). In “Companions of Crisis: The Spy Memoir as a Social Document”, Curtis Carroll Davis depicts the female scouts perceiving their duty to their country to be through espionage. Surprisingly, men, including fathers and other patriarchal figures, actively sought the help of their female kin to play an active role in the war through espionage. For instance, the father of Antonia Ford encouraged his daughter to entertain and extract information from Union officers on behalf of the Confederate cause (Eggleston 97). The passion for liberty was undoubtedly just as
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