Frederick Law Olmstead, treasurer of the Sanitary Commission, is quoted in 1862, "God knows what we should have done without them, they have worked like heroes night and day, and though the duty is frequently most disagreeable … I have never seen one of them flinch for a moment." (34)
In the closing report of the Ladies Christian Commission, on January 1, 1866, the officers expressed their acknowledgement for the aid furnished by patriotic women: "They have fed the flame of piety and patriotism in our homes, through heavy hours, for successive years, and with busy fingers and devices of love have kept the hands of our agents and delegates in the field full of comforts for suffering patriots. To them, under God, the Commission owes its success. We only anticipate the verdict of the future when we say that thus far in human history such work is exclusively theirs - a work that could only have been wrought by praying wives, and mothers, and sisters, in behalf of an imperiled country." (35)
The Civil War accelerated the emancipation of women in society. Their selfless dedication to a cause had given women an opportunity to move outside the domestic sphere.
With the ending of the war at Appomattox, and the return of the troops to take up their civilian lives, the women who had maintained the home front for four long years found themselves being displaced, yet reluctant to return to their pre-war standing. Many of them, having tasted the independence of responsibility, continued their work in the community, joined the work force in more varied occupations, and attended colleges and universities in greater numbers, taking active steps to regain the freedom and power they had assumed during the Civil War.
The Barnum Museum
820 Main Street
Hours: 11-3 Thur & Fri
The People's United Bank Gallery, located at the back of the building is open and free to the public to view the restoration and conservation process. The Barnum Museum's historic building remains closed to the public following tornado damage suffered on June 24, 2010.
Visit www.barnum-museum.org for more information.