Women Soldiers of the Civil War

Until recent history, women have been unable to fight alongside men in a war. However, a few brave women have bucked traditional roles in pursuit of a more active role for women during war times. Unsatisfied with holding positions as nurses or cooks, courageous women during the American Civil War disguised themselves as men to enlist as soldiers in the United States armed forces. Each woman has a different story and a unique contribution to the Civil War effort.

Frances Clayton- Enlisted under the sudonym “Jack Williams”, Frances fought with her husband Elmer L. Clayton in a Missouri regiment. There are two different stories about the discovery of Frances Clayton, it is unclear which is fact.

Loretta Velazquez- Soldier, spy, and author, Loretta Velaquez was a remarkable character. A Cuban immigrant, Velazquez married a US Army officer. After she served as a soldier, Velazquez penned the book The Women in Battle .

Mrs. S.M. Blaylock- Enlisting under the name “Sam” Blaylock, Mrs. Matilda Blaylock also served alongside her husband, until April 10, 1862.

Sarah Edmonds Seelye- Enlisting under the assumed name of Frank Thompson, Sarah served with the volunteer infantry in Michigan for a year. During her time as a soldier, she sometimes worked as a spy, dressed as a woman, ironically enough, or as a black man. After her service, Sarah wrote an account of her military experience, entitled Nurse and Spy in the Union Army .

The contributions of women soldier in early American history are seldom emphasized. These unlikely heroes are representative of the intense spirit and devotion to cause that resounds in truly great Americans. Risking life and reputation, in a time when that was the extent of what many women had to claim as their own, the women soldiers of the American Civil War chose to serve their country. To learn more about women soldiers of the American Civil War, reference the following resources:

Women of the American Civil War Soldiers and Nurses

Women Were There

Women in the Civil War

Women Fought Like A Man For Freedom

Forbidden to Bear Arms

Women Soldiers of the Civil War: Stories, Pictures, and Information

Diaries, Letters, and Documents of Women Soldiers of the Civil War