Saturday, January 1, 2011


It’s not known how many women fought on both sides of the War Between the States. Mary Livermore, who was an active participant in the war through her work with the Sanitary Commission estimated that more than 400 women disguised themselves as men and fought as Union soldiers and at least 60 were killed or wounded. Matilda Joslyn Gage, a 19th century historian, documented the service records of dozens of women soldiers who dressed as men.

Frank Moore’s Women of the War, which was published one year after the Civil War ended, stated that hundreds of soldier’s graves marked unknown were "those of women obliged by army regulations to fight in disguise". The U.S. Department of Defense estimates the casualty rate in the Civil War at 16.46%, which combined with Moore’s statement that "hundreds" of women soldiers were casualties would imply that thousands actually fought in disguise.

This list will continue to grow as more soldier-women are found:

  • Sarah Bradbury enlisted in the 7th Illinois Cavalry under the name Frank Morton.  She went on to serve in several different regiments, finally joining the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry as an orderly in General Phil Sheridan's escort. There she became acquainted with another female serving in the ranks as a teamster, Ella Reno. In an indiscreet moment, the two got drunk on apple cider and fell in the river. Their rescuers discovered that they were women and they were called before Sheridan to explain themselves. In his memoirs Sheridan referred to Bradbury as the "she dragoon."
  • After being discovered in 1862 after three months service in an Illinois unit, Harriet Brown was sent to  Kentucky hospital to work as a nurse. Disliking the position, she put her her uniform back on and went to Chicago. She was arrested in Indianapolis and taken before the mayor who ordered she be given "suitable" apparel and allowed her to go. In January 1865, she became an army matron at the U.S. General Hospital in Quincy, Illinois and worked there for six months.
  • Ida Bruce was a Unionist who lived in Atlanta. She joined the 7th Ohio Cavalry upon the death of her parents.
  • Mary Burns enlisted in the 7th Michigan Volunteer Cavalry as John in order be with her lover, who was in the same regiment. Her sex was discovered within 2 weeks of her company leaving Detroit. She was arrested in uniform, held in the city jail and charged with masquerading as a man. The account of the incident in the Detroit Advertiser and Tribune on February 25, 1863 described the defendant as "a very pretty woman".
  • Sarah Collins, of Wisconsin, was a 16 year old orphan when she enlisted with her brother Mason. She was in good physical condition and "could easily have borne the hardships incident to a soldier's life." She was detected soon after enlisting by her mannerisms ... by the way she put on her shoes and socks ... and sent home.
  • Elizabeth Compton served over a year in the 25th Michigan cavalry. She was wounded at the engagement of Greenbrier, TN and removed to the hospital at Lebanon, KY where, upon discovery of her sex, she was discharged from the service.
  • Lizzie Cook admitted to the Missouri Democrat that her "strong impulse to shoulder a musket" was due in part to being tired of the "monotony of a woman's life."
  • Nancy Corbin, a Unionist from Tennessee, felt she had little choice but to find the Woods division soldier who had seduced her as "her father had driven her from home because she kept company with Union soldiers." When she was discovered to be a woman, she was sent to General Rosecrans who determined she was not a spy and ordered her escorted out of town.
  • Sophia Cryder was said to be "a girl of unblemished reputation" who, as reported by the Harrisburg Patriot and Union, enlisted as a teamster in the "wild spirit of adventure". She served in the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry for about a week before she was recognized by two farmers visiting her camp.
  • Sallie Curtis was anxious to "go for the war" after serving in the Federal army for 20 months.
  • Bridget Deavers (Divers/Devan) served in 1864-1865 Virginia campaigns, allegedly with the 1st Michigan Cavalry.
  • Mary W. Dennis of the 1st Minnesota Regiment Stillwater Co. fooled the regiment surgeon, but was recognized by a printer in St. Paul. She threatened him should he expose her, but he fled and later related the incident to a newspaper reporter. She was said to have been a lieutenant and over 6 feet tall.
  • Ida Ellison, a girl from Virginia, served with the Confederate army and was caught when she tried to return home. Authorities sent her to the Old Capitol Prison in Washington and then to Baltimore on release. She returned to Washington "on a spree" and was jailed again. The Washington Daily Morning Chronicle informed readers in 1864 that Confederate Ida Ellison was violent and suicidal.
  • Mrs. Lewis Epping and Mrs. Mary Watkins enlisted with their husbands in the 2nd Maryland Infantry, Co. G. and lasted six months before being detected by their captain who remembered, "I was thunderstruck and instandly went to make an investigation. They continued campaigning as laundresses until their husbands were discharged.
  • John Finneren of the 15th Ohio Volunteer Infantry returned home after three years of service and decided to enlist with the 81st. His wife, Elisabeth Finneren, decided that he was not leaving her again and enlisted with him on September 12, 1861. Even after her sex was detected, she stayed on with the regiment as a battlefield nurse. She served for three full years until her husband's discharge.
  • Edmonia Gates, a teamster, served in March 1864 as a drummer boy in Wilson's Zouaves, the 121st New York Infantry. After being discovered, she was sent to a workhouse in Washington, DC.
  • Anna Hundley Glud claimed to have been a 10-year old drummer who went to war with her widowed father in 1862. She suffered a minld wound at Gettysburg and served a three-year enlistment. The details of her regimental affiliation and alias was sketchy.
  • Ellen Goodridge served with her boyfriend James Hendrick in an early Wisconsin regiment. She went on skirmishes and raids and was wounded in action.
  • Lila Greet of Alabama worked with a demolition team to blow up bridges over the Tennessee River and prevent supplies from reaching the Union army.
  • Mary Hancock, a school teacher and abolitionist, signed the muster roll of the North Plato Illinois volunteers with three of her friends.
  • Noted for her "predilection for masculine ways", Katie Hanson left home, disguised herself as a man and found work on a Great Lakes steamboat. An "expert rifle woman," she joined an Ohio regiment in 1861 and rose to the rank of sergeant. In 1864 her captain confronted her with his suspicions about her sex and she confessed. She was discharged and sent to work as a hospital nurse and soon cared for her captain who had been wounded in battle. They formed a strong affection for each other and married at the close of the war.
  • Fanny Harris, of Indiana, was another drummer who "passed through a dozen battles". When she was discovered in the fall of 1864 she was sent to Chicago and discharged.
  • Margaret Henry was captured with Mary Wright in March 1865 while burning Tennessee bridges with a squad of Confederate bridge burners. They were jailed in Nashville. A newspaper reporting her capture claimed that "one of them rejoices in the rank and uniform of a captain." A northern newspaper described them as "dashing young creatures."
  • Lizzie Hoffman, of Winchester, VA enlisted in the 45th U.S. Colored Infantry. She was arrested while boarding a streamer with the rest of her company and sent to the Central Guard House in Washington where she was ordered to put on a dress.
  • Louisa Hoffman enlisted three times and served in all three brances of the Union army. She was with the 1st Virginia Cavalry at the Battle of Bull Run and later served briefly as a cook in the 1st Ohio Infantry. In August 1863 she was arrested by a provost guard soon after signing with the 1st Tennessee Light Artillery.
  • Satronia Smith Hunt enlisted in an Iowa regiment with her husband and went undetected for 2 months. She stayed with the regiment as a nurse and left the army after her husband died of battle wounds. She remarried to fellow Iowa veteran John Hunt and went west and died in Sioux City, NE at the age of 98. Her obituary in July 1928 revealed her veteran status.
  • Elvira Ibecker, alias Pvt. Charles D. Fuller, served in the 46th Pennsylvania Infantry, Co. D.
  • An 1896 story about Mary Stevens Jenkins, who died in 1881, tells a brief tale. Using the alias John Jenkins, she enlisted in the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry when still a school girl, remained in the army two years, received several wounds and was discharged without anyone realizing she was a female.
  • Mary Jane Johnson had served in the 11th Kentucky Cavalry for one year. She was discovered to be a woman during her imprisonment at Belle Isle.
  • Emma Kinsey's husband said that his wife held an honorable discharge as the lieutenant colonel of the 45th New York Infantry. Mr. Kinsey did not provide his wife's alias, so the veterans of the local GAR post who tried to look into the matter were unable to locate documentation.
  • When Fannie Lee was discovered while serving in the 6th Ohio Cavalry, she requested a nursing position. An irate provost marshal refused her request stating that she had "so far unsexed herself", was unworthy of the job and sent home.
  • Margaret Leonard of the 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery.
  • Ellen Levasay was a private in the 3rd Missouri Cavalry. When she surrendered at Vicksburg she was sent to either the Gratiot of Myrtle Street Prison in St. Louis. On August 1, 1863 she was transferred to Camp Morton, Indiana where she remained a prisoner for eight months. On April 19, 1864, perhaps because she could no longer stand being a prisoner, Ellen took the oath of allegiance to the United States and was liberated.
  • Maria Lewis, a black woman in the 8th New York Cavalry, disguised herself as a white man and served for 18 months. It's been noted that Lewis, "wore uniform & carried swort & carbine & rode & scouted & skirmished & fought like the rest." In April 1865 she presented herself to northern abolitionists who assisted freed slaves in Alexandria, VA.
  • Annie Lillybridge fought with the 21st Michigan Infantry. One of the men serving with her knew about her disguise but kept her secret. After the Battle of Pea Ridge, she was found shot in the arm and taken to a hospital in Louisville. She swapped her discharge with Joseph Henderson in order to reeinlist.
  • Jenny Lockwood, a former private in the 2nd Michigan Infantry, stayed in Washington, DC after the war. She came to the attention of a local newspaper when she appeared at a police station seeking help. She told them of her veteran status and pleaded "that she was sick and without a home." A police officer delivered her to a local hospital.
  • Julia Marcum was from Kentucky. No other details known.
  • Hattie Martin was a young Pennsylvania newlywed who wanted to be with her husband in the ranks. She "made known her sex to the examining surgeon, and at her earnest solicitation her accepted her as a recruit" despite it going against army regulations. When her husband "grew unkind towards her" she returned home.
  • Mary McCreary served as a private with her husband in the 21st Ohio, Co. H. After several months, she "found herself in a delicate condition", obtained leave from the colonel, went home and never returned.
  • Charley Miller, who had preferred living as a male since childhood, served in the 18th New York Regiment as a drummer boy using the name Edward O. Hamilton.
  • Sarah E. Mitchell, alias Charles Wilson, was a 16 year old soldier who served with Imboden's cavalry. She was arrested at Sandy Hook, Virginia on August 8, 1864, accused of being a spy and jailed at Old Capitol. To gain her release, she told her captors that she was pregnant. When the ruse failed, she was transferred to Fitchburg in October 1864.
  • Molly Mooney was a married woman who enlisted in the 7th Iowa Infantry. Her husband stayed behind when she marched off to war. She served nearly six months before she was recognized in St. Louis by a policeman who knew her before the war.A newspaper reporter wrote that Molly "would scarcely be admired in feminine dress."
  • Madeline Moore joined the army to be with her boyfriend. She was elected lieutenant and served in West Virginia under Gen. George B. McClellan. She fought at Bull Run.
  • Margaret Catherine Murphy enlisted in the 98th O.V.I. as Pvt. Joseph Davidson with her father. Her father quickly received a reputation for being “the Orderly Sergeant of the Company.” When his daughter was suspected only a few days after enlisting, due to her laugh, the “Orderly Sergeant” reported to the Captain that he had examined Murphy and vouched for her being a man. Her father was later killed at the Battle of Chickamauga. She served another six months avoiding detection until she betrayed herself while drunk.
              Murphy paid a high price for her patriotism and daughterly devotion. After she was discovered to be female, her captain was convinced she was a Confederate spy. She was imprisoned at Old Capital Prison and then transferred to City Point, VA and then on through Confederate lines. She was taken by the Confederate guards to Petersburg where she was jailed. Not knowing what to do with her, the Confederates returned Murphy to the Union at City Point. She was subsequently sent to the prison at Fitchburg, MA where she spend the remainder of the war.
  • In 1912 Mary Ann Murphy, of Worcester, claimed to have served in the 53rd Massachusetts Infantry as Samuel Hill, with her brother Tom Murphy. The muster rolls of this regiment did not list either name. (She may have been Mrs. Peter Johnson.)
  • Mary Owens served 18 months under the alias Pvt. John Evans. She fought in three battles and was wounded twice. After being discovered, she returned home to Pennsylvania, where she claimed to have been married to the man with whom she had enlisted. He was killed in battle.
  • Rebecca Peterman (aka Georgiana) served first as a drummer boy in the 7th Wisconsin Infantry in 1862, seeing action at Antietam. Her stepbrother and a cousin were in the same regiment.
  • Mary Ann Pitman was a lieutenant in Forrest's cavalry brigade.
  • Union soldier Ida Remington fought at South Mountain. Her second battle was three days later at Antietam. She spent part of her two-year service detailed as an officer's servant.  In September 1863, still dressed as a man, she was detected and jailed when she applied for work at the U.S. government arsenal in Indianapolis. She was arrested in a saloon in Harrisburg after receiving her honorable discharge and put in jail for being drunk in public as well as impersonating a man. Union athorities sent her to Old Capitol Prison in Washington and then to Baltimore on release.
  • Belle Reynolds served with her husband, a lieutenant in the 17th Illinois Infantry and saw combat while under fire at Shiloh.
  • Jennie Robertson enlisted twice in the regular army but was discovered within three months each time.
  • Rose Quinn Rooney served with the 15th Louisiana, Co. K from June 1861 until the end of the war. There are reports of her on the field under fire at First Bull Run and Gettysburg. When some of the men in her regiment were briefly imprisoned after Appomattox she insisted on joining them. After the war she became the matron of a soldier's home in New Orleans.
  • Mary Y. Seaberry, alias Charlie Freeman, served in the 62nd Ohio, Co. F until November 10, 1862 when she admitted to "sexual incompatibility".
  • Mary Siezgle fought at Gettysburg with the 44th New York Infantry.
  • Diana Smith served with the Virginia "Moccasin Rangers".
  • Mary Smith enlisted in the 41st Ohio Infantry (McClellan Zouaves) sometime in August of September 1861 to avenge the death of her only brother at Bull Run. She was "full of pluck, and aged about twenty-two years." While at Camp Wood, Ohio she was suspected of being a woman because of her "peculiar wring of the dish cloth" and her ability to sew as well as a professional seamstess.
  • Sarah Smith served briefly in the 2nd Indiana Cavalry and was discovered in April 1862.
  • Henrietta Spencer joined the 10th Ohio Cavalry, 1863 to gain revenge for the death of a loved one.
  • Jennie M. Spencer (stll searching)
  • Margaret Spencer (stll searching)
  • Sarah Stover (stll searching)
  • Elizabeth Thompson served three years in the 59th O.V.I.
  • Ellen P. L. Thompson served in the 139th Illinois Infantry.
  • Sophia Thompson was an Ohio farm girl who served two years before her superiors discovered she was a woman. She was sent to the Indianapolis mayor's court and released because of her ardent support of the Union.
  • Nancy Slaughter Walker fought with William Clarke Quantrill’s guerrillas during the Civil War and joined them in their infamous raids in Indian territory and Texas after the defeat of the Confederacy.
  • Mary Walters enlisted with the 10th Michigan Infantry to be with her husband, though he was unaware of her actions. She stayed in the service until he failed to return from a scouting expedition, when she applied for a discharge and returned to Michigan. A recurring dream, in which she claimed to have seen where she lived, led her to Natural Bridge, Virginia where she found him working on a farm. He had evidently suffered a head injury and lost his memory. "Supposedly" his memories rushed back when she appeared before him after a separation of 30 years.
  • Miss Weisener, a planter’s daughter from Alabama, loved a struggling lawyer of whom her father did not approve. E. L. Stone joined the Confederate army and was stationed in Tupelo, MS. On the pretext of delivering supplies to the troops, Weisener traveled to Tupelo, where the pair secretly married. She then became a soldier in his regiment.
  • Laura J. Williams was a woman who disguised herself as a man and used the alias Lt. Henry Benford in order to raise and lead a company of Confederate Texans during the American Civil War. She and the company participated in Battle of Shiloh.
  • When asked about her reasons for enlisting in the 2nd Iowa Infantry, Nellie Williams replied that she volunteered merely to be a soldier, adding that she liked the life. In August 1861 she was arrested in Louisville "unhappily under the influence of liquor." She was described as having black eyes, short black hair and "features very feminine indeed, and a woman's voice beyond all question." After her arrest, her captain vowed that she was not a soldier, but rather "one of the inmates of a disreputable house on Seventh Street."
  • Mary Ellen Wise, alias James Wise, fought with the 34th Regiment Indiana Volunteers and was wounded in action at Lookout Mountain in Tennessee.
  • Mary Jane G. of Trenton, Michigan was a scribe to a Union army General. She was described as a “handsome, fresh-looking detailed man acting as … clerk”. After her discovery, a newspaper reported that she was the daughter of “estimable members of society.” Her surname was not published, perhaps to avoid embarrassing her parents. 
  • In 1863, at age 19, a woman known only as Emily ran away from home and joined the drum corps of a Michigan regiment. The regiment was sent to Tennessee and during the struggle for Chatanooga a minie ball pierced the side of a young soldier. Her wound was fatal and her sex was disclosed. At first she refused to disclose her real name. But, as she lay dying, she consented to dictate a telegram to her father in Brooklyn, "Forgive your dying daughter. I have but a few moments to live. My native soil drinks my blood. I expected to deliver my country but the fates would not have it so. I am content to die. Pray forgive me ... Emily."

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