The Civil War brought enormous hardship and tragedy to America's female population. Yet, it also provided women of all races and social classes with unprecedented opportunities to participate in civic, economic, and military activities that had previously been closed to them. Although officially banned from serving in combat by both the Union and Confederate governments, women played a vital role in their side's war efforts. During the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history, some risked their lives as spies, scouts, and saboteurs, and in some instances, even disguised themselves as men to challenge their nation's foes directly on the battlefield. Others produced and donated desperately needed supplies for the troops, or cared for ill and wounded soldiers. Those at home kept farms and businesses running while their male relations were off fighting. ""Women and the Civil War"" describes the important roles women filled while the Union and Confederate armies fought.