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“A Land of All Men and No Women”

“A Land of All Men and No Women”

Soldiers and the Gender Divide

Chapter:
(p.33) 2 “A Land of All Men and No Women”
Source:
Across the Divide
Author(s):
Steven J. Ramold
Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814729199.003.0003

This chapter examines the gender divide that existed between Union soldiers and Northern women during the Civil War. It argues that the antagonism that arose between the Union Army and civilians became even more pronounced due to a shifting perception of gender roles. Northern men went off to war with a well-defined concept of gender roles, but the Civil War shattered that conception and placed both men and women in roles that were unimaginable before the war. Women were forced to shoulder the economic burden of family support for absent husbands, thus demonstrating that the “fairer sex” could perform many of the same duties as men. The shifts in gender roles were most disconcerting in cases where women temporarily bridged the gender divide as participants in the war, often challenging soldiers' prewar expectations. This chapter also considers how the separation of Union soldiers from their spouses and the unreliability of communication created suspicion of infidelity and adultery, such as the soldiers' dalliances with prostitutes.

Keywords:   gender divide, Union soldiers, women, Civil War, Union Army, civilians, gender roles, infidelity, adultery, prostitutes

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