Amid the Civil War, the Confederate vivandières and cantinières emerged as unsung heroines who defied societal norms to bolster the regiments. Bravely, these trailblazing women journeyed alongside men, pioneering a role never before explored by American women. Their multifaceted contributions shattered the expectations set for women in that era, marking them as remarkable figures.
Historians have traced the historical origins of the vivandière, or cantinière, to the Napoleonic War. During this time, women, mainly wives and daughters of regiment members, would follow close to the drum sound. Although the French army restricted women's involvement in these regiments, it permitted a small number to serve in limited roles. These women became either vivandières or cantinières. In the French army, vivandières served as merchants who sold food and drink in the camp. The cantinières tended to the sick and wounded soldiers and distributed rations during campaigns.