A FEW OF THE MANY WOMEN WHO FOUGHT IN THE CIVIL WAR

SARAH  PRITCHARD
                                                               
                                                                   SARAH  PRITCHARD
 Women fought on both sides. Sarah Pritchard joined the Confederate Army with her husband who passed her off as his 20 year old brother by the name of Sammy Blalock. Sarah's husband Keith told her to stay close to him and they fought in three battles. She was wounded in the shoulder and her identity was discovered. Her commander called over the surgeon and said "Oh surgeon, have I a case for you". She was immediately discharged and forced to pay back her 50 dollar enlistment bonus. Her husband feigned illness and they returned home together. Eventually they switched sides and joined a Union guerrilla band.
LORETA JANETA VELAZQUEZ 


LORETA JANETA VELAZQUEZ 
                                                       
                                                           LORETA JANETA VELAZQUEZ 

 Just about everything that historians know about Loreta Janeta Velazquez comes from her book, The Woman in Battle: A Narrative of the Exploits, Adventures, and Travels of Madame Loreta Janeta Velazquez, Otherwise Known as Lieutenant Harry T. Buford, Confederate States Army. Some of the incidents in the book have been verified, but there are many facts still in question. What is known is that Velazquez was born in Cuba on June 26, 1842 to a wealthy family. In 1849, she was sent to school in New Orleans, where she resided with her aunt. At the age of 14, she eloped with an officer in the Texas army. When Texas seceded from the Union in 1861, her husband joined the Confederate Army and Velazquez pleaded with him to allow her to join him. Undeterred by her husband’s refusal, Velazquez had a uniform made and disguised herself as a man, taking the name Harry T. Buford. Now displaying the self-awarded rank of lieutenant, Velazquez moved to Arkansas, where she proceeded to raise a regiment of volunteers. Locating her husband in Florida, Velazquez brought the regiment to him, presenting herself as their commanding officer. Her husband’s reaction is not recorded in history as just a few days later he was killed in a shooting accident.

 Velazquez headed north, acting as an “independent soldier,” she joined up with a regiment just in time to fight at the Battle of First Manassas (Bull Run) and the Battle of Ball’s Bluff. Shortly afterwards, she once again donned female attire and went to Washington, DC, where she was able to gather intelligence for the Confederacy. Upon her return to the South, Velazquez was made an official member of the detective corps. Apparently espionage did not hold enough excitement for Velazquez, and she once again sought action on the battlefield. Resuming her disguise as Lieutenant Buford, she traveled to Tennessee, joining up with another regiment to fight at the Battle of Fort Donelson on February 11, 1862. Velazquez was wounded in the foot, and fearing that her true gender would be revealed if she sought medical treatment in camp, she fled back to her home in New Orleans. Still in her male disguise, Velazquez was arrested in New Orleans for being a possible Union spy. She was cleared of the charges, but was fined for impersonating a man, and released. She immediately headed back to Tennessee, in search of another regiment to join. As luck would have it, she found the regiment she had originally recruited in Arkansas, and fought with them at the Battle of Shiloh on April 6-7, 1862. While on burial detail, she was wounded in the side by an exploding shell and an army doctor discovered her true gender. Velazquez decided at this point to end her career as a soldier, and she returned to New Orleans. 

  Not content to sit out the rest of the war, Velazquez then went to Richmond to volunteer her services as a spy. She was able to travel freely in both the South and the North, working in both male and female disguises. It was during this time that she married Confederate Captain Thomas DeCaulp. Unfortunately, he died in a hospital a short time later. After the war, Velazquez married a man identified only as Major Wasson, and immigrated to Venezuela. After his death, she moved back to the United States, where she traveled extensively in the West, and gave birth to a baby boy. In 1876, Velazquez, in need of money to support her child, decided to publish her memoirs. The Woman in Battle was dedicated to her Confederate comrades “who, although they fought in a losing cause, succeeded by their valor in winning the admiration of the world.” The public reaction to the book at the time was mixed—Confederate General Jubal Early denounced it as pure fiction—but modern scholars have found some of it to be quite accurate. With the release of her book, Velazquez may have married for a fourth time and is last documented as living in Nevada. The date of her death is thought to be 1897, but there is no supporting evidence for this. In response to those who criticized the account of her life, she said that she hoped she would be judged with impartiality, as she only did what she thought to be right.

SARAH EDMONDSON

                                                               SARAH EDMONDSON

 Sarah Emma Edmondson was born in New Brunswick Canada in December 1841. Her father wanted a son to help with farm work and resented the fact that she was a girl. He was abusive to her and had arranged for her to be married to someone she didn't love. In 1857 she escaped to another Canadian town where she changed her name to Sarah Edmonds. Fearing she would be discovered she immigrated to Hartford Connecticut disguised as a man and working as a Bible salesman. When the Civil War broke out she was living in Flint Michigan and joined the 2nd Michigan Infantry. She became Franklin Thompson and was assigned to be a male nurse. Sarah was nearly captured at 1st Bull Run and served in various battles taking care of the wounded. She was also assigned as a military mail carrier that required her to carry mail on horseback through many miles of dangerous territory full of the enemy and bushwhackers. On one occasion she was thrown into a ditch by a mule and she suffered a broken leg and internal injuries. This injury would plague her the rest of her life. She claimed to have served behind Confederate lines as a spy but there is no evidence to support this.

 In 1863 her unit was transferred to the Army of the Cumberland where she contracted malaria. Fearful that her identity would be discovered she temporarily left the army and checked herself into a civilian hospital. Upon recovery she tried to rejoin her unit but discovered that she had been charged with desertion. Fearing that she would be shot she finished the war as a female nurse working in a Washington DC military hospital. After the war she married a Canadian mechanic and had three children. She attended a reunion of the 2nd Michigan where her former comrades welcomed her with open arms. Sarah applied for a military pension and to remove the charge of desertion from her military records. With the help of the men of her unit this was accomplished in 1884 after an eight year battle. In 1897 she was admitted to the membership rolls of the Grand Army of the Republic, it's only female member. She published a memoir called "Nurse and Spy In the Union Army". She died on September 5, 1898 at her home in LaPorte Texas and was reburied with military honors in Houston Texas in 1901.


FRANCIS CLALIN

                                                                  FRANCIS CLALIN

  Francis Clalin was an Illinois farm wife and mother of three children when she joined the Union Cavalry in 1861 in order to be close to her husband who had also enlisted in the army. In order to maintain her identity as a male she learned to chew tobacco, play poker, and swear as well as any man. She went by the name of Jack Williams and served bravely and honorably. She fought in 18 battles, was wounded three times, and was captured once. Clalin fought alongside her husband until he was killed at Stones River. She stepped over his body and resumed the charge until she was wounded and captured by the Confederates. They discovered that she was a woman and turned her over to the Union Army. She tried to re-enlist but the army wouldn't take her back. Clalin became a media sensation. Newspapers loved the angle of a woman loving her husband so much she couldn't be separated from him. She lived the rest of her life in Missouri. I know that this is a bad thing to say but I can see how she got away with being disguised as a man because I don't care who you are, that is one ugly woman.

ALBERT CASHIER




Albert Cashier was a member of the 95th Illinois Infantry and was the shortest soldier in the unit. Cashier fought in more than 40 battles and skirmishes and marched thousands of miles. She was present for the surrender of Vicksburg and Mobile. If you look closely at this picture you can see the faint outline of breasts because Cashier was a woman. Soldiers were not given thorough physical exams upon induction in the Civil War like I had in 1968. If they had a head, arms and legs they pretty much were qualified to serve. Cashier was born Jennie Hodgers and was an immigrant from Clogherhead Ireland who could not read or write. Her prospects would have been poor as a laundress or seamstress. Most women who disguised themselves as men were poor or working class.

 Jennie decided to maintain her male identity after the war for the same reasons she joined the army in order to make more money and enjoy the benefits of being a veteran. She was also able to vote as a man. She lived out her life as a man in her hometown of Saunemim Illinois. In 1910 she was hit by a car and her sex was discovered by a doctor but he kept the secret to himself. Then in 1913 she was admitted to a mental hospital because her mind was deteriorating with old age. The workers discovered her sex while giving her a bath and forced her to wear a dress. She died on October 11, 1915. She was buried in her uniform and the name Albert Cashier was etched on her tombstone. She was 71 years old since she was born on Christmas day 1843. It took nine years to trace back to her real name of Jennie Hodgers. The second picture is her house in 1950 and her grave in Saunemim Illinois. The fourth is a picture when she was young and old.

PRIVATE LYONS WAKEMAN

                                                        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. Wakeman worked as a coal handler and canal boat worker before the war. She 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. She 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. 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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