These are just a few of the women whose work and character are celebrated in Frank Moore’s 1867 book Women of the war; their heroism and self-sacrifice. The full text and illustrations from this book can be browsed or searched in The Civil War Collection: Part II: The Soldiers’ Perspective by Accessible Archives users.
From the Introduction
The story of the war will never be fully or fairly written if the achievements of women in it are untold. They do not figure in the official reports; they are not gazetted for deeds as gallant as ever were done; the names of thousands are unknown beyond the neighborhood where they live, or the hospitals where [Page vi] they loved to labor; yet there is no feature in our war more creditable to us as a nation, none from its positive newness so well worthy of record.
It is the object of this book to gather and present narratives of the services in the war of some of the women who shared its perils, and ought to inherit its glories. Their experiences are varied, and include both sufferings and adventures, the narration of which cannot fail to warm the heart and excite admiration wherever they are read. They may be taken as representatives of the thousand others whose good deeds are a crown to the national glory.
- MRS. FANNY RICKETTS — More than once was her husband mangled under the iron wheel of battle. Once he was reported dead, and his dying words and his sword were brought to the agonized wife. But she overcame all obstacles, penetrated the hostile lines, reached the side of his bloody stretcher, went into captivity with him, and made his spared life and recovered health the monument of her unwavering and heroic devotion
- MRS. MARY A. BRADY — On the 28th of July, 1862, Mrs. Brady was elected president of an association with the goal of creating committees, who, in turn, should visit the different wards of the United States Hospital, for the, purpose of ameliorating the condition of the sick and wounded soldiers, and to establish a depot of sanitary supplies. From that day to the hour of her death – not quite two years after -her labors were unceasing, her devotion unbounded, and her discretion unerring in the great enterprise of the sanitary well-being of the soldiers of the republic.
- KADY BROWNELL THE HEROINE OF NEWBERN — Accustomed to arms and soldiers from infancy, she learned to love the camp; and it was not strange, years later, when she had come to America and married a young mechanic in Providence, that the recollections of the camp fire in front of her father’s tent, as well as the devotion of a newly-married wife, and loyalty to the Union, prompted her to follow her husband, stand beside him in battle, and share all his hardships.
- MARGARET E. BRECKINRIDGE — In April, 1862, Miss Breckinridge left her home in Princeton for the West, and with the full intention of devoting herself to the soldiers for the war. Remaining some weeks in Baltimore, she there commenced her hospital labors; and the letters she wrote from that place show the hearty satisfaction she took in the work, and the deep interest she felt in the individual cases committed to her care.
- MRS. ELIDA RUMSEY FOWLE — From the fall of 1861, till after the battle of Gettysburg, and near the close of the war, Miss Rumsey gave herself unremittingly to labors for the good, the comfort, the social, moral, and mental well-being of the soldier. She was as wholly devoted and absorbed in such voluntary labors as though she had enlisted, and was in duty bound, and under a military oath of consecration.
- BRIDGET DIVERS — In the commencement of the war, she went out with the first Michigan cavalry, and through the war continued to act with and for that organization. She knew every man in the regiment, and could speak of his character, his wants, his sufferings, and the facts of his military record. Her care and kindness extended to the moral and religious wants, as well as the health, of the men of her regiment, as she always called it. In the absence of the chaplain she came to the Christian Commission for books and papers for the men, saying that she was the acting chaplain, and appearing to take a very deep interest in the moral and religious well-being of them all.
- MRS. ISABELLA FOGG — When her son enlisted, Mrs. Fogg thought her duty no longer obscure, and offered her services, without compensation, to the governor and surgeon-general of the state, and under their direction spent several weeks in preparing and collecting sanitary and hospital stores.
- MRS. MARY W. LEE — Her first efforts in behalf of the soldiers in our great war were in the hospital of the Union Refreshment Saloon, in Philadelphia. When the conflict assumed the serious and bloody proportions that we saw in the summer of 1862, Mrs. Lee felt that she could do more good nearer the field of action. She went down to Harrison’s Landing on the Spaulding, a hospital transport, and there she found that enterprising and indefatigable army worker, Mrs Harris, with whom she gladly cooperated in the arduous duties and melancholy scenes that attended the disastrous finale of the Peninsular campaign.
- MISS MAJOR PAULINE CUSHMAN — A brilliant and impulsive actress, whose life, if it could be fully written, would sound like some tale of romance, is of French and Spanish descent, and was born in New Orleans, in 1833. Early in the year 1863, while playing in Wood’s Theatre, she received many attentions from paroled rebel officers. Upon reflection, it occurred to Miss Cushman that here was afforded her an admirable opportunity of serving her country, and at the same time gratifying her own love of romance and wild adventure. She at once sought and obtained an interview with Colonel Moore, the provost marshal, who, after serious consultation, and becoming convinced of her genuine loyalty, received her proposition to enter the secret service of the United States.
- MRS. JOHN HARRIS — If there were any such vain decorations of human approbation as a crown, or a wreath, or a star for her, who in our late war has done the most, and labored the longest, who visited the greatest number of hospitals, prayed with the greatest number of suffering and dying soldiers, penetrated nearest to the front, and underwent the greatest amount of fatigue and exposure for the soldier, — that crown or that star would be rightfully given to Mrs. John Harris, of Philadelphia.
- MISS MARY E. SHELTON — During the year 1864, and all the early part of 1865, for some time after the war ended, Miss Shelton was constantly in the field, acting a portion of the time as secretary to Mrs. Wittenmeyer; at other times taking charge of special diet kitchens in the different hospitals.
- CARRIE SHEADS — The name of Carrie Sheads, besides its association with that great battle-field at Gettysburg, will be remembered as of one who, being summoned, by the terrible boom of hostile cannon, from a life of quiet and scholastic seclusion, met the terrible demands of the hour with the calmness of a heroine, and, amid the roar and crash of battle, and the fierce hate of the fiery belligerents, acted with a discretion and genuine courage which entitle her name and her act to be held in perpetual remembrance by the daughters of America.