I have always held a fascination with the Civil War. Having a northern mother from the Green Mountains of Vermont and a southern father from the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee, I had a hard time understanding how one country could be fighting against it’s own brothers. I had never known there were sisters fighting, also.
No one knows how many there were, as women were not allowed to enlist. But it is believed to range from 200 to 500, women disguised themselves as men to enter the southern and northern ranks. They had many reasons including patriotism, not wanting to be separated from their loved one, desire for glory and even just a refusal of being left behind.
Here are just a few of the known women:
Loreta Janeta Velazquez. She took on the name of Harry T. Buford. But when her husband discovered her, she was sent home. When he was killed in battle, she again joined the southern ranks. She served as a spy and sometimes commanded troops.
Sarah Emma Edmonds. She took the name Frank Thompson. Sarah was born in Canada to a very abusive father who had wanted a boy. She ran away to avoid the abuse and an arranged marriage. To hide from her father, she donned the disguise of a man. Fearing she still might be found, she traveled to the United States where she enlisted into the army. She worked as a hospital attendant, mail carrier, and orderly. She deserted in 1863, due to Malaria and fearing she would be discovered by the doctors. After her recovery, she became a female nurse to the troops.
Elizabeth A. Niles. Her husband was called to war on their honeymoon. She fought beside him and was mustered out without the military ever learning of her gender.
Frances Hook. She was twenty two when she enlisted. She and her brother were orphans, they decided to enlist together. She continued serving even after her brother was killed.
Florina Budwin. She enlisted with her husband and fought by his side. They were both captured and sent to Andersonville prison. Her husband died there but Florina survived. She died a year after her release due to illness.
This are just a small representation of the women who fought and died for the things they believed. They were, also, great Civil War soldiers.