Friday, July 12, 2013

Private Lyons Wakeman

  Private Lyons Wakeman joined the Union Army at the age of 19 in 1862. The Private joined the army for the money, a whopping 13 dollars a month and a 152 dollar signing bonus. The Private worked as a coal handler and canal boat worker before the war. Private Wakeman was short even for the time and only five foot with light skin and blue eyes. The soldier's first two years of the war were spent guarding the perimeter of Washington DC. Then in February 1864 Private Wakeman traveled 700 miles to Louisiana to serve under General Nathaniel Banks. The soldier fought a battle on April 9, 1864 repelling a Confederate attack. After drinking bad water Private Wakeman along with many fellow soldiers came down with chronic diarrhea. Private Wakeman entered the hospital on May 3, but died in New Orleans on June 19, 1864. This could be the story of just about any Civil War soldier but for the fact that Private Wakeman was a woman. She was able to hide her true identity until many years after the war when the letters that she wrote to her family were discovered in the attic of the home that she grew up in. She was buried under the name Private Lyon's Wakeman in Chalmette National Cemetery but her real name was Sarah Rosetta Wakeman. There are 135 women that are documented to have fought in the Civil War but estimates run as high as 400.

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