A: Believe it or not, at least 400 women fought in the Civil War as men; and in many cases, they were never “outed” (an early “Don’t Think to Ask, Don’t Tell” policy perhaps). One such woman, for example, was Sarah R. Wakeman, a farmer’s daughter who first disguised herself as a man to get a job on a coal barge.
In 1862, at the age of just 19, Wakeman joined the Union Army for a $152 bounty – or about a year’s wages. Most of her stretch was spent in non-combat situations, but Sarah did fight in at least one battle. In 1864, the young patriot was stricken with dysentery and died in a New Orleans military hospital. But even then Wakeman’s secret wasn’t revealed! (Seems like those doctors weren’t the most thorough.)
Her gravestone reads “Private Lyons Wakeman,” and the truth about her gender surfaced only when her letters home were brought to light a century after her death. “I am independent as a hog on ice,” she wrote in one letter, which seems fairly independent in our books.Powered by Sidelines