Some historians have speculated that this growth can be attributed to a depression, and the need for women to support themselves and their families while their husbands were away at war.Other historians considered the growth of prostitution to be related to the women wanting to spread venereal disease to the opposing troops.These small towns were overrun by the sex trade when army troops set up nearby camps.One soldier wrote home to his wife, "It is said that one house in every ten is a bawdy house—it is a perfect Sodom." The most notorious area for prostitution was in Tennessee.Many of the women became sick due to lack of food and were forced to turn around and return to Nashville. He inadvertently created the first legal system of prostitution.Prostitution experienced a large growth and spread across the North and South, and was one of the few industries to cross enemy lines throughout the duration of the war.However, this is not to say females were not available for sex.Prostitutes were among the camp followers following behind marching troops.
After the war, many Southern men felt their manhood diminished in a manner some historians dubbed a "crisis of gender"; a crisis exacerbated after Confederate president Jefferson Davis was apprehended by Union soldiers wearing his wife's shawl for warmth.
Before the outbreak of the war, Nashville recorded 207 prostitutes; however, in 1863 reports claimed to have at least 1500 prostitutes.
The area where these prostitutes could be found was known as Smokey Row.
The total rate of VD among the white Union troops was 82 cases per 1000 men, where before and after the war the rate was 87 of 1000.
Union black troops, however, had rates of for syphilis and for gonorrhea.