Gender During Wartime

Excerpt from Alcott's Hospital Sketches

Here's another passage from Alcott's Hospital Sketches, one that humorously tropes on Tennyson's famous poem of 1855, "The Charge of the Light Brigade," about a battle during the Crimean War. But this is serious humor, nonetheless, and it marks again the availability during the war of events and experiences that are collapsing the distinctions between women's and men's spheres of labor and influence.

It's a collapse we can see even more clearly if we remember the actual conditions of women's labor in the Civil War hospitals, which were often the most rudimentary affairs, made of tents and sometimes little more than a clearing cut away from a forest. Women in the hospitals were sometimes women at or very near the front.

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