Friday, October 12, 2018

Not Your Grandmother's Southern Belle: Hispanic Woman and Confederate Soldier

Civil War re-enactors have been challenged by some women in recent years to allow them to “join the ranks”. If re-enactors today find this problematic, how must men have reacted in the Civil War? But life and history are both complex.

Cuban-born Loreta Velasquez, disguised as a man, enlisted in the Confederate army as Lieutenant Harry T. Buford in 1860. According to military records, under the name Harry T. Buford, she raised a company of volunteers from Arkansas and fought in the battles of 1st Manassas, Ball’s Bluff, and Fort Donelson. In 1862 her disguise was discovered and she was discharged from the army. Velasquez then enlisted with the 21st Louisiana Infantry regiment and went on to fight at Shiloh. Velasquez's disguise was discovered yet again and she was once again discharged. The resourceful Velasquez then became a spy for the Confederacy, often posing as a man.

After the war the now widowed Velasquez moved to Nevada, where she authored a book, "The Woman in Battle", a non-stop thriller patterned after the tales about famous gunfighters. She was married and widowed three more time before her death in 1897 at the age of fifty five (?).

A brief look at love, sex, and marriage in the Civil War. The book covers courtship, marriage, birth control and pregnancy, divorce, slavery and the impact of the war on social customs.

These fictional memoirs are based on the true story of a southern belle who defied convention to become a front line soldier and spy for the Confederacy. 

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