This story is so incredible that I question it's authenticity. However there are several sources that I have seen on this story and they are all consistent with each other. Lucy Matilda Thompson Gauss was born on November 21, 1812 in North Carolina. At the age of 102 she told her pastor a secret that she had kept for fifty years. She had served as a Confederate soldier during the war. The incredible thing is that she was almost 50 years old when she joined in 1861. She had just married a new husband named Bryant Gauss. Her reasoning was that she didn't want to be separated from him and if he was killed she didn't want him to be buried in an unknown grave. She was described as tall and masculine but not without feminine charm. She was a great horseman and an expert marksman. Her friends and neighbors kept her secret because they admired her bravery. Two of her units officers also knew that she was a woman but they admired her ability with a rifle, her jokes and her husky singing voice. She cropped her hair and was known as Private Bill Thompson. Lucy fought in a number of battles. At 1st Bull Run she was wounded by a piece of shrapnel that ripped her head from forehead to crown. She spent two months in the hospital but managed to keep her identity secret. Her husband was killed near Richmond and she took his body home after being granted a permanent furlough. Now this is the incredible part to me. She had a child by Bryant in January 1864. She moved to Savannah and in 1866 married a Union Army veteran named Joseph Kenney. Together they had six children. Their first child was born when Lucy was 55 in 1868 and her last child was born when she was 69 in 1881. Lucy lived to be 112 years old. Her husband Joseph lived to be 107. Lucy's motto was "Hold up your head and die hard"
The folowing is information that I received in a e-mail correcting my story and it sounds much more believable.
Just to clarify, Lucy Matilda Thompson's age has been inaccurately reported in many publications. She was actually born in 1842. Her mother, who was also named Lucy Thompson and was born in the same town, was born in 1812, and this is probably the source of much of the confusion. Lucy Matilda (the daughter) was 19 years old when she supposedly followed her husband to war in 1861. She was 21 when she had her first child in 1863, and 24 when she married for the second time in 1866. She and her second husband had their first child together in 1867 when she was 25, and their last child in 1884 at the age of 42. All of this is documented in public records. She was 83 years old at the time of her death, not 112 as reported in her obituary. Evidently, when it was published in 1925, it was a lot more difficult to research and verify the facts than it is now, and the newspaper must have just accepted the erroneous information at face value. Knowing her actual age makes her story much more believable. Lucy Matilda's brother, Barney Thompson, was my great-great Grandfather, and from what I know of the family, I believe that the story of her passing as a man and going to war is probably true.