Battle Time: Gender, Modernity, and Confederate Hospitals

TitleBattle Time: Gender, Modernity, and Confederate Hospitals
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsWells, Cheryl A.
JournalJournal of Social History

The presence and perseverance of female nurses in Confederate hospitals freed women from the patriarchal control of Old South gender relations and accelerated social change. This article applies the historical study of time consciousness and multiple temporalities to the experiences of Confederate nurses to illustrate the ephemeral nature of such changes. The article's principal points are these: first, it argues that some Civil War temporalities effectively degendered Civil War hospitals by making both Confederate nurses and male surgeons increasingly hostage to a new, entirely capricious temporality: battle time...Second, this article argues that in Civil War hospitals, battle time eroded men's time and their customary authority over its allocation and replaced it with a neutral and standard temporality. Finally, this article illustrates the nature of Confederate nurses' work in order to illustrate how the Civil War encouraged women to embrace an antebellum masculine time consciousness and how the southern defeat at Appomatox resulted in a reemergence of southern white women's time.

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