In camp[ edit ] At camp, " barracks favorites " were available. These were inexpensive novels of a sexual nature. Photographs of nudity were available as well, and were purchased by both enlisted men and officers.
These were usually pictures of nude women doing innocent things; nude women that were engaging in actual sexual activity were usually not white, but either black or Native American. With the soldiers being far away from their wives and sweethearts, it is speculated these were used for masturbation , and not just for entertainment. Prostitutes , as always, were among the camp followers following behind marching troops.
Popular legend has it that they were so common around the Army of the Potomac when Union general Joseph Hooker was in command that the term "hooker" was coined to describe them; however, the term had been in use since The number of prostitutes around Hooker's division only "cemented" the term. Among white Union soldiers there was a total of 73, syphilis cases and , gonorrhea cases. The total rate of VD among the white Union troops was 82 cases per men, where before and after the war the rate was 87 of Union black troops, however, had rates of 34 per for syphilis and 44 per for gonorrhea.
Numbers for Confederates are unknown, but are assumed less due to Confederate soldiers being less likely to be in cities. Some historians have speculated that this growth can be attributed to a depression, and the need for women to support themselves and their families while their husbands were away at war.
Other historians considered the growth of prostitution to be related to the women wanting to spread venereal disease to the opposing troops. There was moral outrage at this rising employment, and law officials classified the people they arrested as such.
A newspaper estimated there were public women in the District and another in Alexandria and Georgetown, bringing the total to by the war's third year". These small towns were overrun by the sex trade when army troops set up nearby camps.
One soldier wrote home to his wife, "It is said that one house in every ten is a bawdy house—it is a perfect Sodom. Before the outbreak of the war, Nashville recorded prostitutes; however, in reports claimed to have at least prostitutes. The area where these prostitutes could be found was known as Smokey Row.
George Spalding loaded the women on to the steamboat Idahoe. The women were sent to Louisville , where they were not allowed off the ship and sent further along to Cincinnati.
Many of the women became sick due to lack of food and were forced to turn around and return to Nashville. Once they arrived back in Nashville, Lt. Spaulding created a system of registration similar to European ones.
He inadvertently created the first legal system of prostitution. That a license be issued to each prostitute, a record of which shall be kept at this office, together with the number and street of her residence.
That one skillful surgeon be appointed as a Board of Examination whose duty it shall be to examine personally every week, each licensed prostitute, giving certificate soundness to those who are healthy and ordering into hospital those who are in the slightest degree diseased. That a building suitable for a hospital for the invalids be taken for that purpose, and that a weekly tax of fifty cents be levied on each prostitute for the purpose of defraying the expense of said hospital.
That all public women found plying their vocation without a license and certificate be at once arrested and incarcerated in the workhouse for a period of not less than thirty days. Female soldiers[ edit ] The number of female soldiers in the War is estimated at between and , although an accurate count is impossible because the women had to disguise themselves as men.
A captured Confederate officer whose true gender was previously unknown by the guards gave birth in a Union prison camp. The Confederate records were destroyed, but a perusal of only five percent of Federal records reveal that over thirty court martial trials were held due to instances of rape; hanging or firing squad being the usual punishment if convicted. Federal troops who committed rape while invading the southern states mostly took advantage of black rather than white women, and black soldiers were usually punished more severely for the crime than their white counterparts.
However, no army soldiers were disciplined for such activity, although three pairs of Union Navy sailors were punished, all in The Richmond Dispatch reported on May 13, , that since the moving of the Confederacy 's capital to Richmond that "loose males of the most abandoned character from other parts of the Confederacy" had moved to Richmond and "prostitutes of both sexes" openly displayed themselves in carriages and on sidewalks.
One man wrote to his wife that he had slept with one of the "boy-girls. The most notable of these was Confederate major general Patrick Cleburne , although it is still disputed. The false rumor quickly spread in the North that Davis was caught during his escape while dressed as a woman. Period drawings depicting Davis in full women's dress bonnet included were used to ridicule the Confederacy's former President.