Cover: Women’s War: Fighting and Surviving the American Civil War, from Harvard University PressCover: Women’s War in HARDCOVER

Women’s War

Fighting and Surviving the American Civil War

Add to Cart

Product Details


$26.95 • £19.95 • €24.50

ISBN 9780674987975

Publication Date: 04/15/2019


320 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

8 photos

Belknap Press


Readers expecting hoop-skirted ladies soothing fevered soldiers’ brows will not find them here… It explodes the fiction that men fight wars while women idle on the sidelines.—Chandra Manning, The Washington Post

Identifies a durable commitment to patriarchy that outlasted slavery and sustained white supremacy through the Civil War and beyond… McCurry sets out to view the South’s ordeal in the Civil War ‘through women’s eyes,’ a perspective too often ignored in histories of warfare.—Amy Murrell Taylor, The Times Literary Supplement

Correcting histories that erase women’s share in wartime work, McCurry reminds us that ‘Women are never just witnesses to war.’The Wall Street Journal

Traces three narratives to argue that ‘there is no Civil War history without women in it.’ Women waged grassroots campaigns that informed the new concept of ‘Civilian as Enemy’—the trial of the Confederate spy Cara Judd altered martial law—and shaped the Union’s refugee policy and the terms of the peace. McCurry scrutinizes legal archives compiled by men, seeking glimpses of women they overlooked, whose voices enliven the book.The New Yorker

Stephanie McCurry challenges us once again to look at the Civil War through a different lens. She demonstrates how women’s participation changed not only their lives but the very understanding of war itself—its laws, its mechanisms of violence, its legacies and aftermath. In this brilliant exposition of the politics of the seemingly personal, McCurry illuminates previously unrecognized dimensions of the war’s elemental impact.—Drew Gilpin Faust, author of This Republic of Suffering

As Stephanie McCurry points out in this gem of a book, many historians who view the American Civil War as a ‘people’s war’ nevertheless neglect the actions of half the people. Her account of Southern white women’s participation in rebel resistance, black women’s roles in their own emancipation, and the prostrated condition of the women as well as men of the planter class after the war paves the way to a better integration of women into the story of this era.—James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom

With uncommon comparative sizzle and a deep grounding in gender, legal, and racial history, McCurry has written a stunning portrayal of a tragedy endured and survived by women. Horror and hardship in this case have inspirited beautiful writing. Women’s War gives the legions of Civil War era readers a unique, unsettling, and enriching understanding of the conflict. Women were not mere witnesses to war; McCurry is our witness to how they died and lived through this cataclysm.—David W. Blight, author of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

Recent News

From Our Blog

Jacket, In Mrs. Tully’s Room: A Childcare Portrait by Vivian Gussin Paley, Harvard University Press

Remembering Vivian Gussin Paley

Renowned educator and author Vivian Gussin Paley died recently. Her former editor at Harvard University Press, Elizabeth Knoll, looks back on her life and work, which emphasized storytelling as an important tool in children’s learning. Vivian Gussin Paley was a small, gray-haired schoolteacher

‘manifold glories of classical Greek and Latin’

The digital Loeb Classical Library ( extends the founding mission of James Loeb with an interconnected, fully searchable, perpetually growing virtual library of all that is important in Greek and Latin literature.