During the Civil war, women made valuable contributions to the war effort on both sides'. Whether you portray a Confederate or Union woman you would normally participate in very similar if not identical activities common to North and South. These roles would cover some of the following:
* Military wives of all ranks - Cooked meals, repaired uniforms, darning, patching, making up food parcels, opening parcels from home, embroidering flags, making patchwork quilts.
* Hospital/Prison Visitors - Visiting wounded soldiers, writing and reading letters for them, comforting, conversing with soldiers.
* Nurses - On both sides women played a vital role in helping with wounded and dying in field and city hospitals. In the North it was The Sanitary Commission and although the South didn't have a formal organisation the southern women carried out the same role.
* Soldiers - Many women entered the ranks and served through out the entire war without being detected and some even won pensions after the war. Each SOSKAN Unit decides whether to admit women as soldiers. It is conditional upon being able to blend in without looking like a female soldier.
* Street Vendors - Selling items to the public and military
* Laundresses - Washing and pressing etc. were attached to some Army Units.
* Hobbies and Pastimes - Painting, embroidering, singing, writing, reading poetry or newspapers, picnics, tea parties etc.
This list is not exhaustive. To present an authentic impression, period clothing would be necessary dependent upon what impression you were trying to make. Clothing would depend on occasion and time of day. For example, a day dress would be appropriate for most daytime activities, with a ball gown being worn to a ball in the evening.
For occupations, clothing specific to them would be used. All the above includes accessories and implements being used as was done then.
Patterns for women's clothes of the period are readily available, both in the UK & the US, and a recently published book, 'Who wore what? - Women's Wear 1861-1865' is an excellent reference for all things "female".