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Popular legend has it that they were so common around the Army of the Potomac when Union general Joseph Hooker was in command that the term "hooker" was coined to describe them; however, the term had been in use since 1845.The number of prostitutes around Hooker's division only "cemented" the term. Among white Union soldiers there was a total of 73,382 syphilis cases and 109,397 gonorrhea cases.Military training became mandatory at some private girls’ academies.One female militia in La Grange, Georgia--a uniquely militarily vulnerable city, poised halfway between the industrial powerhouse of Atlanta and the original Confederate capital at Montgomery, Alabama--engaged in diplomatic negotiations with the invading Union army in April 1865, using the threat of violence to obtain a promise that their city would not be ransacked.A newspaper estimated there were 5000 public women in the District and another 2500 in Alexandria and Georgetown, bringing the total to 7500 by the war's third year".However, it was the towns located just outside the camps where prostitution was most prominent.Unlike the members of the all-female militias, the female enlisted soldiers were drawn disproportionately from working- and lower-middle-class backgrounds—and therefore represented a radically different cultural milieu.

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Across the Confederacy, upper-class women assembled all-female home guard militias, drilling firearms usage and training to protect their plantations, properties, and neighbourhoods from Union invasion.

These were usually pictures of nude women doing innocent things; nude women that were engaging in actual sexual activity were usually not white, but either black or Native American.