Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



In this dissertation I reveal a same-sex sexual subculture on Union navy ships and in Union army camps with its own etiquette and racial prejudices, along with the existence of a sexual marketplace. I reveal the naval establishment’s official attitude toward coerced sex, which was one of unequivocal condemnation. Despite condemning same-sex sex, the army and the navy could be discerning in who they punished, as sometimes men convicted of sexual assaults saw their sentences overturned. I also discovered that men could use accusations of sodomy as a weapon and sexual slanders as a way to needle superior officers. I use the case of Lieutenant Colonel George Hollister of the 16th New York Cavalry to show that officers were afforded a great deal more leeway when it came to the consequences of same-sex sexual behavior, but that accusations were toxic enough to kill even the career of a politically powerful officer. I showcase all of the ways men interested in sex with other men found each other, namely through signaling, touch, and very rarely, actual conversation. Finally, I show that both the navy and the army were seemingly willing to tolerate same-sex sexual interactions, so long as they did not disturb the camp or shipboard environment.



Committee Chair

Sheehan-Dean, Aaron



Available for download on Thursday, April 05, 2029