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“We Are All Men”

“We Are All Men”

Transforming Gender Expectations in New Orleans during the Civil War and Reconstruction

Chapter:
(p.43) Chapter Two “We Are All Men”
Source:
Intimate Partner Violence in New Orleans
Author(s):
Ashley Baggett
Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781496815217.003.0003

Fighting for God, country, and home, southern men in the antebellum period fulfilled their ultimate role as protectors. This patriotic fervor started to wane as the war continued. Some letters from nurses and soldiers illustrate questioning not only the war but also the concept of a good death. After the Civil War, thousands of men returned physically or emotionally scarred. As men tried to make sense of what it meant to be a man in the postwar years, they were not alone. Women too threw off the rigid expectations of antebellum womanhood in large part due to their Civil War experiences. Serving as nurses, running the household, and living under occupation since 1862, New Orleans women acted in roles traditionally considered masculine. They emerged from the war more aware of the drawbacks of dependence and began expecting more reciprocal, although by no means egalitarian, relationships.

Keywords:   Manhood, Womanhood, Civil War, Reconstruction, Relationships

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