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Park Celebrates Women Of The Civil War Era

Fort Pulaski National Monument

National Park News

Over 1100 visitors joined Fort Pulaski National Monument staff in commemorating Women’s History Month on Saturday, March 9th, with a day of special programs focusing on women during the Civil War era.

The American Civil War sparked the appearance of women in many new roles.  While the men were away, women managed the home front – running farms and operating businesses.  Some women supported the war as spies, while others joined the fight as soldiers. 

Because both the Union and Confederate armies forbade the enlistment of women, women soldiers assumed masculine names and disguised themselves as men.  It is impossible to know how many women served in the Civil War. 

To recognize the female veterans of the American Civil War, Fort Pulaski’s cannon firing demonstrations were performed by an all-female crew of park staff and volunteers.  Women regularly participate in the park’s historic weapons program, but these were the first demonstrations of the park’s 30-pounder Parrott rifle to feature a cannon crew comprised of women only. 

The park also staged two historical fashion shows of Civil War garments.  Visitors enjoyed a presentation of “Victorian Secrets: Civil War Ladies Undergarments”, which reviewed the dressing process with layer upon layer of undergarments for the 19th century woman, complete with live model. Visitors gained new understanding of women’s attire in the 1800s as the model was dressed from the “inside out.” 

This unique presentation was followed by a “Civil War Ladies Fashion Show” exhibiting the wide range and variety of clothing worn by women based on social status, social customs, and social events.  The narrated display of ladies clothing of the Civil War period included day dresses, ball gowns, and everything in between.

“Women played a vital role in the history of Fort Pulaski and in the story of the American Civil War,” said acting superintendent Terri Wales.  “Their ability to make an impact during a significant period in our country’s history, despite the limited opportunities available for women in the 19th century, is inspiring.”


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