Tracey's Reviews > They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the Civil War

They Fought Like Demons by DeAnne Blanton
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's review
Jul 17, 2014

liked it
bookshelves: libraryread, pop-history, americana
Read in March, 2004

I read the first half of this book last May - I had to take it back to the library before our vacation.... then kind of forgot about it. I finally checked it out again this past week & finished it up.

Blanton & Cook focus on the women who disguised themselves as men in order to enlist in the Union and Confederate armies during the American Civil War (as opposed to those in support roles - nursing, supplies/laundry, etc). Their best estimate of the total number of women who served is about 400, but the scarcity of primary source material limits the discussion to a few dozen who wrote memoirs, letters or otherwise had their service documented. Many of the women served anonymously, either dying on the battlefield or of disease, or simply returning to civilian life once the war was over.

The writing style was a bit dry & academic, as well as repetitive, due to the aforementioned lack of resources. However, it still was an intriguing look into the culture of the mid-1800's & how the women who were discovered were then perceived, both by fellow soldiers and by the public at large. There were a few soldiers who continued living as men for years after the war, only being found out once they retired to the poor house or had to be put under medical care. The Resources section is well-developed, with a bibliography, notes and index.

Recommended to those with an interest in women’s studies and/or Civil War enthusiasts.

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