Elisha Dyer Auxiliary No.2 Women During The Civil War <bGSOUND SRC="http://cmdrmierka.tripod.com/midi/Aura_Lee.mid">
Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Auxiliary COA Auxiliary Membership Insignia Auxiliary COA



Kady Brownell Our Pin Up Gal The Ladies Of RI

Women were important to the war effort.    Click the right and left photos for more information.    Read about Kady Brownell, Daughter of the Regiment, on the left and proper Civilian clothing for the ladies on the right.    The Civil War marked the first time that women in many cases needed to go to work in shops, farms and factories while their men were off fighting for "Uncle Abe".    Although Women's Suffrage was not realized until 1920, the fact of women in the American Work Force during the Civil War and WWI advanced the cause to amend the Constitution.    However, during the Civil War some more worldly or desperate women resorted to a socially unexceptable means to survive.    The center photo was a soldier's favorite; a "Pin Up Gal", who all the men dearly admired on those long campaings and marches through the South night and day fighting the Rebs.

Women Match Factory Workers Women Textile Workers Women Working In A Textile Mill

For the first time in America women went to work in factories in great numbers, keeping the home front going strong.

CENTER: Three women textle loom weavers
Women quickly learned skilled trades.

RIGHT: Women at work in a wollen mill.
After the war women stepped aside and allowed men returning from the war to take their place, but the Civil War did much to advance the cause of Suffrage.


Mary Bishop Burnside Kate Chase Sprague Paulina Kellog Wright Davis

LEFT:Mary Bishop Burnside
She was a kind and stately woman who stood by General Burnside's side supporting and encouraging her husband throughout his career as a soldier, Rhode Island Governor and R.I. U.S. Senator.

CENTER: Kate Chase Sprague
She was by far the most popular socialight in Washington D.C. Kate was the wife of Rhode Island Governor, Senator and wealthy industrialist William Sprague. She was also the daughter of President Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury, Solmon P. Chase.

RIGHT: Paulina Kellog Wright Davis
Paulina was perhaps the most well known Abolitionist of Rhode Island. She was also an outspoken activist for women's suffrage. She also encouraged Governor Sprague to select known abolitionists to be commissioned officers of the 1st and 2nd Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry Regiments as a fitting action symbolizing and defining the Union Cause during the early days of the Civil War.


All ladies of quality or proper and good up-bringing as well as "true" gentlemen, were thoroughly educated in the "Private Conversation" or "Secret Language Of The Fan", often displayed widly but very discreetly at social gatherings, especially by young ladies courting.    The words of the fan language were never spoken in public.    The fan language was often used while simultaneously carrying on a spoken conversation with someone else, unrelated to what the lady was saying to another with her fan.    Anyone who did not find a way to acknowledge or failed to understand the fan messages being conveyed by a proper lady and her fan, risked greatly offending her.    At an early age, women were taught never to get a tan, never eat like a field hand in public, always have perfect posture, speak intelligently, have good manners, never cut her hair, wear a dress that never showed her feet, and do her best to maintain an hour-glass figure.    Mothers and Grandmothers were socially duty bound to teach their young girls these rules without exception.    The regular practice of shaving legs and under-arms for ladies came in the 1890s and later, when the safety razor was invented and in many cases still later in the early 20th century when women were allowed to reveal their legs with their normal clothing.    During the Civil War Period, on hot days, men and women were never allowed to bath together or swim together as a group, and all men and women, "including soldiers" bathing as a "gender oriented group", bathed in their undergarments, never totally un-clothed.    This social standard was "strictly" observed in the military.    The Language of the Fan at times went against proper standards or acceptable Victorian Period social behavior.    Young-people enjoyed the language of the fan as a way of rebelling against strict Victorian Standards imposed upon them as a normal aspect of evryone's life-style, especially during the Civil War.    There were two forms of fan gesture:   Discrete messages conveyed by women to women; and daring messages that women conveyed to men.    Gestures conveyed from women to women were usually gossip oriented.    The gestures conveyed by women to men were most often gestures of a lady’s desire for romance or an effort to make it clear to men that a romantic encounter or relationship was not possible before any words are spoken.    The most common fan gestures were fan movements conveyed by women to men.    Therefore men needed to know the language just as much as women if they wanted to find a suitable mate, especially amidst high society.    The gestures below were perhaps the most used language of the fan; the language women conveyed discretely to men in social settings.

Language of the Fan

A 19th Century Dialog of Gesture ~ Intrigue ~ Romance
Proper Etiquette

If You Want to Convey:
Sir I Desire Your Proper Acquaintance.
Carry Your Closed Fan in Your "Left" Hand and Hold it Briefly and Repeatedly in Front of Your Face.

If You Want to Convey:
I Wish to Speak Privately with You Sir.
Close Your Fan in Front of the Gentleman and Walk Slowly to Where You Want to Meet Him.

If You Want to Convey:
Follow Me Sir.
Carry Your Closed Fan in Your "Right" Hand, Holding Briefly in Front of Your Face, Making Sure That Only the Gentleman Sees.

If You Want to Convey:
Please Wait For Me Sir.
Open Your Fan Wide, but Do Not Wave it and Turn so Only the Gentleman Sees.

If You Want to Convey:
Sir, We are Being Watched.
Close Your Fan and Twirl it in Your "Left" Hand and Walk Away if You are Not Seated, or Look the Other Way if Seated.

If You Want to Convey:
My Good Sir, I truly Love You.
Discreetly and Slowly Draw Your Fan Downward Along Either the Right or Left the Side of Your Face or Cheek, Opposite From Public View.

If You Want to Convey:
Goodness Sir, Yes; or Kind Sir, I Certainly Will.
Rest Your Fan Closed on Your "Right" Cheek, Facing So Only the Gentleman Sees.

If You Want to Convey:
My Dear Sir, Do You Love Me.
Discreetly Present Your Fan for a Moment in Front of Your Face, "Closed".

If You Want to Convey:
No How Dare You Sir; or Sir, I Certainly Will Not.
Rest Your Fan closed on Your "Left" Cheek and Ignore the Gentleman.

If You Want to Convey:
My Apologies Sir, I Love Another.
Twirl Your Fan Closed in Your "Right" Hand and Look Down.

If You Want to Convey:
Sir You Frighten Me; and/or Sir You are Too Willing.
Hold the Handle of Your Fan in Either Hand Up to Your Lips.

If You Want to Convey:
Sir, You Have Changed; or Sir, You are Not the Same as before.
Draw Your Closed Fan Across Your Forehead and Look Pleased if You Approve of the Change or Sad if You Do Not Approve.

If You Want to Convey:
Sir, I Strongly Wish You Would Leave at Once; or Please Sir, Get Away From Me, I Have No Interest in Being Around You At All.
Place Your Closed Fan on Your "Left" Ear and hold it there.

If You Want to Convey:
Sir I think You Are Despicable; or I Hate You Sir.
Draw Your Closed Fan Repeatedly in an Agitated Manner Through Your "Left" Hand and Sow a Scowl When No One is Looking.

If You Want to Convey:
Sir, I am so Very Sorry; or Please Sir, Forgive Me.
Draw Your Closed Fan Across Your Eyes.

If You Want to Convey:
Sir, You Are So Very Cruel; or Sir, You Have Hurt Me Dearly.
Repeatedly Open and Shut Your Fan Several Times Holding it in Front of You at Your Waist in an Agrivated Manner.

If You Want to Convey:
Sir, How Dare You, I am Engaged.
Open Your Fan and Flutter Fan it on Your Face and Chest Quickly and Look Away From the Gentleman.

If You Want to Convey:
Sir, You May Think You Have Caught My Fancy, but I am Married.
Open Your Fan and Fan Your Face "Slowly", and Look Away From the Gentleman.

If You Want to Convey:
I May or May Not Be Flirting With You, but Let Us be Friends; or We Can Only Be Just Friends, but I Like Your Respectful Attention.
Drop Your Fan on the Floor or Ground in Front of You and Wait For the Gentleman to Pick it Up, a Message Also Conveyed When Dropping Your Hanky or Mit.


Women not carrying on a conversation with their fan, hung them from their waist or tucked them away in a small hand-bag, but always kept them ready for use in any social setting at a moment's notice.   Through the fan, acquaintances turned to love or rejection, all manner of secrets were passed, news and gossip were discretely communicated, and social standards were maintained.   The folding skeletal structure of fans were usually made from bone, gutta-percha, lacquered wood and ivory, with artistic designs, icons and scenes intricately carved on each section.   The body of fans were generally made of cloth, silk and sometimes exotic colored feathers.   The body portion was often decorated with hand painted scenes and some more expensive and prized fans were studded with gems, and/or sterling silver sequins and 24 kt gold ribbon.


Catherine Littlfield Greene Katy Greene's Fan

Wood & Silk Fan Bone & Ivory Fan Peacock Feather Fan

Martha Dana Barot Greene Anna Day

Above:Great examples of the finest fans
Top: Catherine Littlefield Greene, wife of Rhode Island Major General Nathanael Greene of the Revolution
Bottom: Martha Dana Barot Greene, wife of Rhode Island Major General George Sears Greene of the Civil War
Anna Day, daughter of General George Sears Greene.

Civil War Links ~ Just For The Ladies

  • The Vivandieres Home Page

  • The United States Sanitary Commission Home Page

  • The National Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic Home Page

  • The National Daughters of the Union Veterans of the Civil War Home Page

  • The National Women's Relief Corps (WRC-Auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic) Home Page

  • The National Dames of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States Home Page

  • Past-Reflections, Museum Quality 19th Century Reproduction Clothing Home Page

  • The Kady C. Brownell Research Home Page

  • The Ladies' Parlor Home Page

  • Originals By Kay, Civil War Clothing, Home Page

  • Rebecca's Reproduction Vintage Clothing, Home Page

  • A Pocket Full of Posies Home Page


    Mary Todd Lincoln Hariet Beecher Stowe Sarah Helen Whitman

    LEFT:"First Lady", Mary Todd Lincoln
    Mrs. Lincoln watched out for those who might take advantage of the President.
    She also felt since the U.S. Capitol was under massive improvement, the White House should follow suit.   She was also very outspoken about the high rate of casualties during the war.

    CENTER: Harriet Beecher Stowe
    She authored "Uncle Tom's Cabin".   Her book rose the conscience of the Nation opposed to slavery.

    RIGHT: Sarah Helen Whitman
    Sarah was an outspoken abolitionist ~ suffragette.   She was also an accomplished poet and the love of Edgar Allen Poe.   She was buried at Old North Burial Ground in Providence, haunted for the remainder of her life and after the death of Poe by a love never to be united in marriage.


    Sojourner Truth Am I Not A Woman Harriet Tubman

    LEFT: Sojourner Truth
    Sojourner was a highly intelligent writer and orator who at times traveled the countryside with Frederick Douglas speaking out against the Southern institution of slavery and human rights.   Both she and Douglas made sure the people understood the Civil War was really about the issue of slavery as Benjamin Franklin and John Adams predicted when the U.S. Constitution was ratified permitting it.

    CENTER: A poster adapted from the 1838 President Van Buren emergency coinage symbolizing the oppression of women and minorities in 19th Century America.

    RIGHT: Harriet Tubman
    Harriet was one of the most successful organizers of the "Underground Railroad.   She assisted countless escaped slaves, helping them avoid the authorities and complete their journey to freedom and safety in Canada.


    Mrs James Barton Clara Barton Julia Ward Howe

    LEFT: Mrs. James Barton
    She was a cousin of Elizabeth Margaret Greene of Rhode Island and an outspoken advocate of Temperance.   She believed alcohol and other forms of substance abuse was the root of all spousal abuse.   This was an important issue to most women in America until women were granted the right to vote under the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920.

    CENTER: Clara Barton
    Clara was known as the Florence Nightingale or "Angel of the Battlefield" during the Civil War.   After the war she pushed for continued care for Veterans and helped start the American Red Cross.   She also visited General Ambrose E. Burnside, Senator William Sprague and General George Sears Greene in Rhode Island quite often.

    RIGHT: Julia Ward Howe
    Julia was a Rhode Island Leader of the Women's Suffrage and a writer.   She also wrote the song, Battle Hymn of the Republic.   After the Civil War she worked tirelessly to finish the Emancipation Proclamation and pushed for the 13th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution banning slavery for all time.

    This Page was Written & Designed By:
    Gregg A. Mierka, PDC
    Mary V. Mierka, PDP
    Auxiliary 2 Webmaster
    © 2009, all rights reserved.

    Thank you for stopping by Elisha Dyer Auxiliary No.2.
    Please let us know if we can help you again.
    May God Save and Continue to Preserve the Union !

    This page hosted by tripod Get your own Free Home Page

    {Return To The Top of This Page}