Women in the Civil War

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When we think of the Civil War, the image that likely immediately springs to mind is that of thousands of men in uniform clashing in epic battles, such as at Gettysburg.

Forgotten are the thousands of women who performed tedious, dirty, inglorious tasks–hospital matrons, hospital nurses, laundresses, cooks, and others. They were there, too, on both sides of the conflict.

Documenting their presence, identity, and contributions, is infuriatingly difficult, however, due to the paucity of records that were kept–or retained. A new article,
“Union Army Laundresses,” NGS Magazine, Vol. 42, No. 3 (July-Sept. 2016): 33-37, breaks new ground by outlining research strategies for documenting the service of hospital laundresses, fort and post laundresses, and camp laundresses.

Most of these women likely came from the poorer end of the economic spectrum. They included African-Americans as well as Caucasians. Their efforts deserved to be better remembered, and I hope this article will encourage research.

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Civil War Chaplains

My colleague, John P. Deeben, recently published an excellent article on records in the National Archives about Union and Confederate Civil War chaplains. It is “Faith on the Firing Line: Army Chaplains in the Civil War,” Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives and Records Administration, Vol. 48, No. 1 (Spring 2016).  Researchers will find it informative and useful.chaplains-cooke-l

Online Records – Carded Marriage Records

The images of the cards in the record series, “Carded Marriage Records, 1883-1916” are now online. This series, which is part of Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, consists of cards with the following information: name of man, his rank or occupation, and unit to which he belonged; name of woman, her age and birthplace; date and place of marriage; name of medical officer who signed the report; and, sometimes, the date of report. Some of the marriages were performed at civilian locations off-post. If the woman was the daughter of an Army officer, his name, rank, and unit may also be noted. The information on these cards was copied by clerks from the original reports submitted by post medical officers. One of the clerks who wrote these cards had excessively ornate handwriting that is often difficult to interpret.

These records may help descendants of the 898 marriages included in this series locate an otherwise difficult-to-find marriage–for example, if their Regular Army ancestor married at an unexpected location.

These records have been placed online as a part of the continuing effort of the National Archives to make more records available online through its Catalog of holdings.