When it comes to the women of the Civil War period, most people are still only familiar with the “usual suspects”—nurses like Clara Barton, former slaves like Sojourner Truth and famous wives like Varina Davis or Mary Lincoln. To deepen the knowledge base on this important subject, Florida-based writer Maggie MacLean has filled her Civil War Women blog with fascinating profiles of lesser-known women who served in some capacity during the war.
In one recent post, MacLean describes how Margaret Gaffney Haughery, a brave Southern philanthropist, confronted Union Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler so she could continue to provide food and drink to the needy and poor, even after his troops had occupied New Orleans. Another story discusses how Lydia Hamilton Smith, a biracial woman born in Gettysburg in the early 1800s, drove a wagon from farm to farm after the famous battle there, collecting donations of food and clothing that she distributed to local field hospitals. “Details of [Smith’s] life are sketchy and sometimes contradictory,” MacLean writes, “but she deserves to be remembered for the care she gave to the wounded Union and Confederate soldiers after the Battle of Gettysburg.” Thanks to MacLean’s blog, she will be.
Originally published in the January 2008 issue of America’s Civil War. To subscribe, click here.