Other women that somewhat hung around the military fronts would be labeled as “camp followers.” This label would include women who cooked for soldiers and others who did laundry. Not surprisingly, prostitutes would linger around military camps seeing the great number of lonely men as potential profits. In some cases, the wives of officers were present at the camps also. It was reported that General U.S. Grant brought his wife along on some of his campaigns. Women who stayed home involved themselves by aiding slaves in the Underground Railroad or taking over for their men in the fields. In the South, many women were forced to not only work in the fields, but also manage the slaves. This would enable many slaves to take advantage of the short-handedness and escape to freedom. Towards the end of the war, needing help at home and seeing the lost cause of the Confederacy, Southern women began to write their husbands and sons asking them to come home. Many soldiers answered these requests by leaving or deserting their camps adding to the declining Confederate manpower.
This page was created by Todd Gentry.