978-0-393-04712-7 / 0393047121

All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies

by Leonard, Elizabeth D.

Publisher:W. W. Norton & Company



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About the book:

As the American Civil War raged on, Louisiana's Sarah Morgan complained to her diary, "Oh! if I were only a man. Then I could don the breeches, and slay them with a will!" Though Morgan never did "don the breeches," in All the Daring of the Soldier, historian Elizabeth D. Leonard reveals that many women did. Leonard recounts the stories of dozens of women who joined the war effort, such as Richard Anderson, a.k.a. Amy Clarke, who fought with her Confederate cavalry regiment at the battle of Shiloh. Other women served as "Daughters of the Regiment," doing everything from serving as mascots and nurses to bearing regimental colors in battle and even fighting in combat. Still others engaged in espionage, such as Elizabeth Van Lew, who hid behind a cultivated persona and the nickname Crazy Bet so that she could spy for the Union.

Interesting capsule biographies aside, the strength of this book lies in Leonard's historical analysis. While many historians (and most Civil War novelists) have assumed that women went to war because they were motivated by love--either of men or their country--Leonard is quick to point out that whereas many women did follow the men they loved, and that others were sincere patriots, many others were motivated by economic need or even the desire for adventure and a wider range of opportunity than 19th-century society allowed them. Leonard's thorough research in archives and memoirs adds great detail to these women's stories and makes All the Daring of the Soldier an excellent addition to both the scholarly and general literature on the Civil War. --C.B. Delaney

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