Powers of Endurance:
Women in Wartime 1861–1865

by Patricia B. Mitchell

Powers of Endurance: Women in Wartime 1861-1865

(This book was titled Home Front Regiment 1861–1865: Women Fighting from the Hearth through its first five printings.) An anecdotal exploration of the hardships, challenges, resourcefulness, and rapidly-changing roles of women, North and South, during the American Civil War. Published 1999. 6 recipes and formulations from the period. 125 research notes, 37 pages. 5.5 x 8.5 inches. Soft cover, saddle-stitched. ISBN-10: 0-925117-95-1. ISBN-13: 978-0-925117-95-3.


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About the Book

No one, after reading Powers of Endurance by Patricia B. Mitchell, can doubt the capabilities, resourcefulness, and courage of wartime women.

Many ladies stayed at home and did their part by establishing aid societies, corresponding with soldiers, providing foods for the troops, etc., all the while carrying out the responsibilities of both wife and husband.

Other women volunteered as spies, and over 400 females actually served in the military. Some became nurses. Susie Taylor King wrote:

“It seems strange how our aversion to seeing suffering is overcome in war, — how we are able to see the most sickening sights, such as men with their limbs blown off and mangled by the deadly shells, without a shudder; and instead of turning away, how we hurry to assist in alleviating their pain, bind up their wounds, and press the cool water to their parched lips.…”

Female slaves and former slaves also assisted in the war effort. Richard H. Mockett, of the 43rd Michigan Regiment recalled:

“I met one of the kindest old colored ladies in this city [Nashville] I ever saw. She was as good to me as a mother. She got me up splendid meals and attended to my comfort as if I was her own son.… I paid the old man and woman well and shall never forget them.”

The title of the book is taken from a letter written by Varina Davis, widow of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, several decades after the war. In the letter Mrs. Davis describes how, as the women responded to wartime hardships and needs, their “powers of endurance were at once demonstrated to the world.”

Powers of Endurance describes how the Civil War forever changed the roles of American women.

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