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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Battle of Marshall 150: Divided loyalties--the role of women during the Civil War

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Anne Mallinson discusses women's involvement in the Civil War on Saturday, July 13.
(Kelsey Alumbaugh/Democrat-News)
Women were more involved in Civil War efforts than one might think. Anne Mallinson and Nancy Lewis gave a presentation about women's contributions to the war on Saturday, July 13, as part of the 150th Anniversary Commemoration of the Battle of Marshall Second Saturday series.

Mallinson and Lewis talked about women who were slave owners, women who couldn't remain onlookers, women who were spies and women who disguised themselves to go into battle.

Irene Chaffee was an example of one woman in Missouri who was a slave owner. Her first husband, Dr. John Emerson, owned Dred Scott, his wife, Harriet, and their two children. When he died he left everything, including his slaves, to Irene Chaffee, and it is believed she lent them out to work for others. She remarried Calvin Chaffee, a northern congressmen opposed to slavery.

When Dred Scott filed for his freedom, he pressed charges against Irene Chaffee's brother, but it eventually came out that she was the owner.

An article in the St. Louis Republican in 1875 reported Irene Chaffee offered Dred Scott his freedom if he would buy it with the slavery of his daughters and drop the lawsuit.

Nancy Lewis speaks at the ninth Second Saturday event for the 150th Anniversary Commemoration of the Battle of Marshall.
(Kelsey Alumbaugh/Democrat-News)
German women who had immigrated were not satisfied being onlookers when their men were committed to the war. In one case, they made a flag for one of the regiments and said women's involvement in the war was part of old German custom.

Women were also used as spies throughout the war. Mallinson and Lewis noted they were more trusted.

Women who enlisted as soldiers often did so in disguise and weren't discovered until they were injured, ill or dead, like Jane Short.

Mallinson and Lewis said it is estimated that 400 women were enlisted in the army, but they think it could be more like 1,000. Women wore disguises and could have been buried in mass graves with other troops, so finding the real number is almost impossible.

This lecture was the ninth Second Saturday event for the 150th Anniversary Commemoration of the Battle of Marshall. The next lecture will be Saturday, Aug. 10.

Contact Kelsey Alumbaugh at kalumbaugh@marshallnews.com

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