Army at Home

Women and the Civil War on the Northern Home Front

By Judith Giesberg

248 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 21 illus., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-7263-5
    Published: August 2012
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-9560-3
    Published: September 2009

Civil War America

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Introducing readers to women whose Civil War experiences have long been ignored, Judith Giesberg examines the lives of working-class women in the North, for whom the home front was a battlefield of its own.

Black and white working-class women managed farms that had been left without a male head of household, worked in munitions factories, made uniforms, and located and cared for injured or dead soldiers. As they became more active in their new roles, they became visible as political actors, writing letters, signing petitions, moving (or refusing to move) from their homes, and confronting civilian and military officials.

At the heart of the book are stories of women who fought the draft in New York and Pennsylvania, protested segregated streetcars in San Francisco and Philadelphia, and demanded a living wage in the needle trades and safer conditions at the Federal arsenals where they labored. Giesberg challenges readers to think about women and children who were caught up in the military conflict but nonetheless refused to become its collateral damage. She offers a dramatic reinterpretation of how America’s Civil War reshaped the lived experience of race and gender and brought swift and lasting changes to working-class family life.

About the Author

Judith Giesberg is professor of history at Villanova University and author of Civil War Sisterhood: The United States Sanitary Commission and Women's Politics in Transition.
For more information about Judith Giesberg, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"An excellent job addressing a topic not discussed in adequate detail previously. This book deserves a place in local libraries and on the bookshelves of anyone interested in the contributions of women made during the American Civil War."--Civil War News

"Offers a new perspective on women in the Civil War North."--Civil War Book Review

"A fine, well-written account that significantly enlarges our perspective of the often hidden, but no less dramatic, impact of the Civil War on Northern women."--Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography

"Relying on extensive, detailed research, Giesberg tells her story with clarity and verve. . . . This book goes far toward reminding us that the forgotten women who sewed the uniforms and made the munitions used in the war also felt that they sacrificed much, perhaps too much."--American Historical Review

"Persuasive . . . Giesberg's work leaves no room for doubt that the war dramatically altered the daily lives of working-class women, urban and rural, as well as the form and location of women's political engagement."--The Annals of Iowa

"A work that addresses a neglected and very important topic. . . . Highly recommended."--Choice