Would you follow your loved one off into battle?
Women during the Civil War did just that. These women were not content to sit around and roll bandages while their husbands, fathers, and brothers went off to fight. Instead, they disguised themselves as men and went off to war right alongside them.
An estimated 400-750 women fought in the war, although the number could very likely be higher due to the secret nature of this activity. It was easy for them to keep their secret because of Victorian etiquette, which brought on an atmosphere of doing things like sleeping with one's clothes on and bathing separately. If women were discovered among the ranks, they were usually just sent home without punishment, although it would cause quite a bit of rumor to be spread through the camps. If you want to learn more about women in the Civil War and check out some pictures click here!
The following is the first part of a little fictional tale I whipped up having to do with women fighting in the Civil War. I hope you enjoy. Be sure to comment and subscribe to my blog when you have finished reading :)
It is early morning, the sky barely lit with pre-dawn hues of pink and orange. The bugle call has blared through the camp just moments ago. All of us are tired, as we wake irritably fro our slumber to pull on various tattered items of clothing. Being Calvary, we are fortunate enough to be provided boots, unlike most of the infantry. I guess that has to be one of the many reasons why we are hated so much by them.
I have just emerged from my tent with a handful of others who are trying to shake off the grogginess of being up too late for one reason or another the night before. Some start fires in attempt to brew what little coffee rations they have.
We are all fed up with this war, though few of us will admit it. None of us want anything more to go back to whatever may be left of our homes and families. All of us are tired of seeing our friends and comrades be there one moment riding next to us, then being shot right out of their saddles in the next.
I suppose I should introduce myself. My name is Kathleen Hotchkins. Yes, I am a women. I am currently serving in General J.E.B Stuart's Calvary division in the Army of Northern Virginia under the alias of Kieth Harper. I am not the only women who has done this. The army would probably shrink almost, is not more than a quarter in size if they were to send home all the women currently serving in disguise.
I enlisted back in '62 when my husband went missing after the Second Battle of Manassas. He is probably off in some forsaken Yankee prison camp somewhere where you barely get the care you need, if you get it at all. It is not like our army should be complaining about the treatment of our prisoners though. It is not like we treat Yankee prisoners any better in our camps from what I have been told.
I approach the area where are horses are kept, most of them still dozing with their heads lowered as the sky continued to lighten. One particular horse, a chestnut gelding with four white socks and a white blaze, lifts his head and wickers a greeting at the sound of my approaching footsteps. He is my husband's horse going by the name of Jester. It is only by sheer dang luck that I found him after I enlisted. When I first arrived in camp, when I spotted him he let out a whinny, broke free from his handlers, and trotted right up to me.
I approach Jester, giving him a welcoming pat. Jester seems to glare at me as if he is asking, why the heck do we have to be up this early? I agree with him. I have never been much of a morning person either.
Suddenly, a courier rides up to me at a gallop and stops, saluting. I immediately salute back.
"Major Harper," the young man said. "General Lee requests your presence at headquarters as soon as possible".
I nodded to the young man, giving him a message for the general that I would report immediately. As soon as he rides off to deliver my message, I begin to saddle Jester, preparing him for the ride. Soon, we are headed off through the woods toward here Lee has stationed his headquarters with his infantry.
This has become a familiar routine for Jester and I. Lee has been irate with Stuart as of late, due to his failure at Gettysburg. Because of this, Lee has been asking me for advice on Calvary placement since I am Stuart's second in command.
I think he has guessed that I am a women, but since he apparently likes the advice I give him he has so far turned a blind eye to it. For that, I am grateful, for I am not leaving this army until I find my husband or become seriously wounded, whichever comes first.
Suddenly, a shot rings out in the woods, seemingly coming from nowhere. I feel myself falling as Jester whinnies sharply, then, everything goes black.