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June 2013

Camp followers

By Glynis Board
All kinds of women fit into the category of Camp Followers during the Civil War. Some were equipped with bibles and buttons, others with bullets and bustiers. West Virginia University history professor Connie Rice gives us an idea of who the women of that era were and what they did in western Virginia during the war.

“On both sides of the war you had women who were camp followers.”

Although women didn’t fight on the front lines during the Civil War, West Virginia University Professor Connie Rice says many would travel with troops.

“These women were wives, they were lovers, they could have been women that were from the Sanitary Commission that were there to serve as nurses. And they would follow the men from camp to camp. Some of the wives would dress in men’s uniforms sneakily at first. Some went openly as women.”

She says women supported troops in various ways.

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This week in the Civil War for June 2, 1863

Union offensive continues on the Mississippi River.

Union forces 150 weeks ago during the Civil War continued raining cannon shot and rifle fire down Confederates ensconced behind defensive works at Port Hudson, La. For 48 days the siege of the enemy garrison at Port Hudson would go on even as Union forces sought to dislodge Confederates defending Vicksburg, Miss. In May and June of 1863, Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant mounted the prolonged siege of Vicksburg, a city on bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. Grant knew that taking control of the Mississippi River's entire lower stretch was a major key to splitting the Confederacy and turning the momentum of war to the Union side. Ultimately Grant would succeed in that operation, eventually forcing the capitulation of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, and inducing the surrender of Port Hudson days later. His military achievements along the Mississippi also would serve to catapult Grant to the post of general-in-chief of the Union armies.

The Associated Press