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All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies Paperback – February 1, 2001

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Editorial Reviews Review

As the American Civil War raged on, Louisiana's Sarah Morgan complained to her diary, "Oh! if I were only a man. Then I could don the breeches, and slay them with a will!" Though Morgan never did "don the breeches," in All the Daring of the Soldier, historian Elizabeth D. Leonard reveals that many women did. Leonard recounts the stories of dozens of women who joined the war effort, such as Richard Anderson, a.k.a. Amy Clarke, who fought with her Confederate cavalry regiment at the battle of Shiloh. Other women served as "Daughters of the Regiment," doing everything from serving as mascots and nurses to bearing regimental colors in battle and even fighting in combat. Still others engaged in espionage, such as Elizabeth Van Lew, who hid behind a cultivated persona and the nickname Crazy Bet so that she could spy for the Union.

Interesting capsule biographies aside, the strength of this book lies in Leonard's historical analysis. While many historians (and most Civil War novelists) have assumed that women went to war because they were motivated by love--either of men or their country--Leonard is quick to point out that whereas many women did follow the men they loved, and that others were sincere patriots, many others were motivated by economic need or even the desire for adventure and a wider range of opportunity than 19th-century society allowed them. Leonard's thorough research in archives and memoirs adds great detail to these women's stories and makes All the Daring of the Soldier an excellent addition to both the scholarly and general literature on the Civil War. --C.B. Delaney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

At the core of this well-researched investigation into the role of women in the Civil War armies is a sensitivity to the plight of Victorian-era women. Leonard (Yankee Women) notes that "domestic service continued in the late nineteenth century to represent the primary waged occupation for women." It's no wonder, then, that a few intrepid women decided that the war offered them a better chance to be all that they could be. A Colby College history professor, Leonard has plowed through archives to bring readers the stories of dozens of women who served in both the Union and Confederacy during the Civil War. Some were spies, but many more adopted men's names, dressed in men's clothes and lived and fought and died alongside mostly unsuspecting men. One Union general "became outraged when an unnamed sergeant under his command 'was delivered of a baby,' which, he irately noted 'is in violation of all military law and of the army regulations.'" Often, when women were discovered in the ranks, they were accused of being clever prostitutes who enlisted because of the promise of steady business. Leonard dismisses this theory, noting that there was hardly a need for prostitutes to go incognito. Leonard's engaging portraits of these female soldiers are neatly contextualized, and she makes it clear that women enlisted because they were patriots, because they wanted to be near husbands and brothers and, perhaps above all, because they felt the war offered them a chance at autonomy and adventure. (July)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (March 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140298584
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140298581
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,834,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Noonie Fortin on June 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I am the author of "Memories of Maggie" and "Potpourri Of War" so I readily ordered this new book to learn more about the women who served during the Civil War.
"All the Daring of the Soldier" was excellent. It brought forth more women than I was even aware of who did so much for their country during the Civil War. Elizabeth D. Leonard should be proud of the work she put into her research and writing. This book should be a welcomed item to anyone's collection but especially for students to learn more women's history.
I only have one complaint. There was no mention of Dr. Mary Edwards Walker who also served during the Civil War and was ultimately the only woman to date to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for her actions during the war. I hope this was just an oversight on the author's part.
BUT believe the rest of this book is wonderful!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Caitlin Taylor on December 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
Though the beginning of the book was a little dry, it continues to improve. It's greatest strength is the use of personal stories and accounts of those who actually knew the women.

As the book begins, many women are mentioned who had small, some might say even insignificant, role in the Civil War. This part is the book is the more dry area, but when the author, Elizabeth D. Leonard, begins to focus on the five most prominent women who helped to illicit information from the enemy, it again improves. This style of writing continues throughout the book, first mentioning several women whom not much is known about, then sharing the story of a well-known Unionist or Confederate female. Another strength of this book is the information that one can learn. I was surprised at some details and statistics provided. For instance, many women who brought information across enemy lines were able to do so through the use of their clothing as a means for hiding letters and even entire army uniforms. One woman strung hats and boots underneath her hoop skirt and kept letters in her hair. The statistic that six women were able to kept their pregnancy a secret (until delivery) while being enlisted under a male alias is shocking.

This book provides another look at women in the Civil War. Many believe, incorrectly, that only a few females were involved with either the Union or Confederate cause. As this book proves, however, that is not the case.

Overall, this book has an equal amount of interesting aspects, as well as dry moments. The "good" parts, however, are worth reading the book in its entirety.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By BAGS VINE VOICE on July 31, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This reads more like a text book or research essay. It's a little dry for the casual reader who just wants to learn about the topic in their liesure time. It seems like author is trying to pack in a mention of EVERY woman who was ever involved in the Civil War, no matter how little information is available on them. However, it's an interesting subject, and some of the women are discussed in detail, with quotes from people who knew them. The detailed accounts are worth reading about.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By RL on June 11, 2013
Format: Paperback
Lots of little tidbits here for the Civil War buff, much of it not covered anywhere else that I'm aware of. It's a shame that it had to be in this format, with multiple stories kind of shoved together awkwardly into what amounts to a series of run on sentences. Granted, as the author points out in many cases the information available is sketchy at best. But it's still a bit of a muddle when, at points, you cover 7 or 8 individuals in the course of a single page! I'm glad I found this, but I know most of this won't stick with me long, and I'll likely not be going back for a second read.
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Format: Paperback
There is some good research, but the readability lacks a little. I hate all the [sic]. I would like some better organization on the "minor" players. Running two or three together in a paragraph gets tiring. Also, I would like some comparison in numbers with men in service and especially as spies to give some perspective. If many of these women re-enlisted after getting caught, does that skew some of the numbers?
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