…“Most of the rapes that northern soldiers committed were of black women,” and Murphy writes that “most states had laws stating that no crime of rape against slave women existed,” leaving them even less recourse to seek justice…..
Even if it was an upper-class white woman, who was more likely to believed, sometimes judges would dismiss it because they would feel, “Oh, [if she were really a lady] she would have been too ashamed to actually come forward.” So everything was stacked against the woman.
That’s the other thing: both the North and the South rarely thought it was rape when it was a black woman. It wasn’t until the Civil War when black women were actually able to come forward and call it rape. Before that time, even in the North, they would make it a lesser charge [for black women], if at all. I do have at least one record where a black woman was able to testify about a sexual assault in New York or someplace like that, but that was very rare. For the most part, black women’s voices went unheard…
Slavery, the value of chastity, and laws that favored men all made it difficult for women to find justice during the chaos of war.