While a popular Civil War-era saying was, "Better a soldier's widow than a coward's wife," some women took it a step further. Flying in the face of Victorian conventions and the traditional view of females as frail, passive and subordinate, they enlisted in the army.
About 250 women are thought to have served in the Confederate army disguised as men, with about 400 women serving in a similar manner in the Union Army. Frances Clayton was one such female. She allegedly served in Minnesota artillery and cavalry units along with her husband.
According to contemporary newspaper reports, "the better to conceal her sex, she learned to drink, smoke, chew and swear with the best, or worst, of the soldiers."