Women in the American Civil War


The Civil War At Hammonasette State Park May 5, 2002

The day was bright and clear as we drove our van from the 21st century and parked in a field at Hammonasette State Park. We then walked in our 1860's clothes back in time to the days of the American Civil War. We were stationed with the Mass 10th.

Bruce and Bea on way to Hammonasette for Civil War Reenactment.

A blue flag waved in the distance as we walked over the uneven grassy surface to the commander's tent. Darlene and the Captain were there waiting for us to arrive. The wooden chairs were arranged under the fly of the tent so we could sit in the shade and talk. The Captain told us about the day's activities and then suggested we walk around and see the Sutlers and other reenactors.

With my lace parasol over my head shielding me from the bright sun, I walked with my husband to the area set aside for the Sutler's. Mrs. Lincoln and her body guards walked among the crowds. She graciously inclined her head and smiled at those who greeted her.

Mrs. Mary Todd Lincoln

We stopped at Sutler John's to look at the latest merchandise and noticed several black women playing the role of freed slaves.their heads were wrapped in scarfs and they wore blankets for their dress.

Little girls in hoop skirts, and boys in broadfall pants played among the tents. Some had wooden hoops they rolled upright on the grass. Others tossed ribboned hoops in the air and caught them on wooden sticks.

The smell of kettle cooked popcorn filled the air. We were about to head for the popcorn tent when the sound of marching feet alerted us to a parade of Northern soldiers. We all stopped to watch and cheer them along.

Later, my husband joined the other older men to talk about the war. A group of women invited me to join them in a tea party. The water was boiled over an open fire pit and served by the younger women of the group. We sipped our tea from porcelain or tin cups brought from home and talked about children, and fashion. By the time the men rejoined us, it was late. Too soon we had to leave the 1860's and return to the 21st century.

Bea Sheftel

Civil War Women and Their Clothes

Genteel Arts Academy

The Genteel Arts Academy was founded in 1988 to encourage interest in the clothing worn during the Civil War era; concentrating on historically accurate sewing techniques. The Academy offers a continuing series of lectures and hands-on seminars on all aspects of Civil War clothing and needlework. These are mainly in Gettsyburg, PA.

1855-1860 Dress - This dress features a basque bodice with full pagoda sleeves and a two-tiered skirt. Suitable for those doing antebellum impressions or portraying mature women at the start of the war.

Yoked Chemise--This chemise is styled with a yoke, short sleeves with gussets and reinforcements, and side gores. It has a front placket opening with pleats on either side. Narrow edging accents the neckline and sleeves.

Wrapper - This versatile and practical garment could be found in almost every woman’s wardrobe. It can be worn for as an informal, at-home garment, a robe, or a maternity dress. It can be made in simple or elaborate fabrics.

Petticoat -A petticoat was worn under the crinoline in cotton or wool, or a petticoat worn over the hoop in cotton.

Covered Crinoline - A very practical alternative to a cage crinoline that is easy to construct.

Cage Crinoline - Underpinning Series - Cage crinolines are much lighter than you would expect and very flexible, making them easy to wear.

Mantle - This very practical and fashionable garment . Made of silk or wool, it may be lined or unlined, left plain or trimmed it comes in varied lengths.

Corded Petticoat - Pre-cursor to the crinoline, covered crinolines were still worn by some older women at the beginning of the war.