Responses to the formation of home guards in the Civil War North used a humorous visual vocabulary that played off the gender expectations of prewar periodical, literary, and artistic culture. Humorists and artists made fun of the men who chose to stay at home by linking them with the feminine space of the parlor. Using a painting by Thomas Hicks titled The Home Guard, along with other war-era images of home guards, this article argues that the satire lampooning home guards as weak and cowardly was dependent on codes of gender that stressed masculine action. These images used the home front as the de facto location of gendered struggles during war, responding to perceptions that men tied to domestic spaces were feminized. The home guard and other more clearly satirical images of men who stayed at home suggest that a generation of men had been raised to be pampered by feminine protectors. Hicks mocks certain men who chose to stay at home and not fight during the war; his work exposes gendered assumptions that reveal postwar concerns about traditional masculinity. Together, these works suggest a shift in understandings of gender and the fear of a feminized culture in the aftermath of the war.

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