Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mary Jane Prater

While wearing a cavalry uniform, Mary Jane Prater was taken prisoner in the Kanawha Valley early in 1863 and was sent to Wheeling under charges of being a Confederate spy. She said she was five months pregnant, but there is no record of her giving birth.

On May 2, 1863 the commissary general of prisoners in Washington directed the Wheeling provost marshal to either bring disloyalty charges against her or to let her go. "Wearing soldiers clothing in camp is not an offense for which she can be sent south and if that is all that is against her, she must be disposed of in some other way," ordered Colonel Hoffman".

She was released, but rather than send her back to the Confederate army, he sent her to Pennsylvania "with other women of the same sort." She did not like the company, nor did she like Pennsylvania. So she immediately left for Wellsburg, West Virginia. Dressed in male attire, she was arrested there and sent back to Wheeling, where she cursed a colonel and was sentenced to thirty days in jail.

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