Women in the Civil War
Museum of Florida History & The Grove Museum
Florida was one of the southern states to secede from the Union over the issue of slavery, thereby starting the Civil War. White women had to take on additional responsibilities at home, whether on a large plantation or small farm, because the men who traditionally managed day to day operations were usually fighting in the war.
Florida women worked to support the Confederate war effort by sewing flags, providing supplies such as bandages, and sewing clothing for soldiers. Groups like the Ladies Soldiers Friend Sewing Society, based in Tallahassee, performed these tasks as well as running fundraisers to support the Florida Hospital for soldiers. Though there is no known record of Florida women fighting in combat, there were many women who dressed as men to fight in both the Union and Confederate soldiers. The Florida in the Civil War exhibit at the Museum of Florida History offers a glimpse into life on the Civil War Homefront.
Enslaved African American women would have continued to perform hard labor, but would be aware of the potential opportunity to escape behind Union lines or achieve freedom once the war was done. Plantations, like the Call-Collins House at The Grove Museum, often times served as convalescence homes for wounded Confederate soldiers. This means than enslaved women working in domestic service at The Grove would have cared for the soldiers fighting to continue the institution of slavery.
Photocollage of Ladies Soldiers Friend Sewing Society - Tallahassee, Florida. 1861, State Archives of Florida/Sache
Plantation scene of laborers picking cotton in Florida. 18--, State Archives of Florida