Remarkable Female Civilians in Military History

Rosie the Riveter as painted on a brick wall

Throughout history, we have often seen military history as a major part of any civilization. This is because history is written by the victors – at least most of the time. There are those who make contributions that are often forgotten because they are not recorded. If these remarkable people are recorded, they tend to get lost in the annals of history – waiting for someone to rediscover them and breathe life into their story once more. 

Here are a few remarkable people that we tend to forget:

Jenny Wade – Mary Virginia Wade was a young woman who lived in Gettysburg during the Civil War. It is said that she was engaged to one soldier in the Union Army, while a mutual friend of theirs was in the Confederate Army. Jenny, as she was known, was killed when she was struck by a stray bullet while baking bread to be shared among her family and the Union soldiers who were stationed nearby. Legend has it that both her fiance and friend were killed on the same day during the battle of Gettysburg. Her family was given a small pension after the war for the services that she provided in feeding Union troops.

Florence Nightingale – During the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale gained distinction for the medical care that she organized –  much of which is still used today. Hailed as the founder of the Modern Nurse, with her guidance, sanitation, and better medical care were given to soldiers. Because of her care, many of those soldiers lived through the medical care they received, through better wound management and germ control. Besides training nurses, she went on to call attention to many much-needed changes in the care of wounded soldiers – and this has filtered down through the military and civilian sectors today. 

Rosie the Riveter – This remarkable woman was the face of factory workers during the Second World War. Through motivational posters and other materials produced at the time – she became the most popular face of the wartime effort at home. For munitions, planes, shipyards, and more – Rosie the Riveter is still today, one of the most iconic images from that era. There have been two women named as Rosie the Riveter. Geraldine Hoff Doyle worked in a machine shop for the Navy, while Rose Will Monroe was an actual riveter at the Detroit, Michigan Willow Run Bomber Plant. 

Civilian Women in the Factories – During the Great War, and then the subsequent Second World War, women left their kitchens in droves to work the factories and other essential services. There were large voids left by the men who were fighting overseas, and women picked up those jobs without complaint. Through the hard work by the women who kept things running here, machinery, war equipment, and other essentials needed for the war effort and survival at home kept running. These women deserve a cheer and a beer even now! 

It is not just the soldier that moves history forward. As the saying goes, “behind every great man is a woman just as great.” These are just a few of the remarkable figures from history, and there were many more fabulous females just waiting to be rediscovered!

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