Looking for woman disguised as Union soldier; died April 6, 1864 in Georgia or Alabama

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This is a massive longshot, but if you don't shoot, you can't get any hits, right?

At Andersonville National Cemetery, in grave 13706, reportedly lies an "Unknown Lady." She was not a prisoner at Andersonville, but not long after the War ended, they dug up Union soldiers who'd died and been interred in the area and reburied them in the National Cemetery. We know from her grave number that she was one of these. The notation next to the words "Unknown Lady" in the cemetery register says "Died as a soldier."

Has anyone ever come across a reference in a diary, letter, or regimental history about a Union soldier who was discovered to have been a woman after she died?

Thanks!
 
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So this woman would have been killed/died while in service in the Union Army, would have died in the vicinity of Andersonville - though not at the prison - and would have been reinterred after the War in the national cemetery. Yes?
Pretty much. Not sure just how much "in the vicinity of Andersonville" covers, but that's pretty much all we know. No regiment, no pseudonym, just the date of her death and the fact that she "died as a soldier." She was given a military style gravemarker with a number, neither of which should have happened if she had been a civilian.
 

lelliott19

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Pretty much. Not sure just how much "in the vicinity of Andersonville" covers, but that's pretty much all we know. No regiment, no pseudonym, just the date of her death and the fact that she "died as a soldier." She was given a military style gravemarker with a number, neither of which should have happened if she had been a civilian.
What was the date of her death? EDIT TO ADD: I see it now in the title = April 6, 1864.
 
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All I find is a Union woman imprisoned at Andersonville but died at Florence SC.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/5959585/florena-budwin
Thanks for @archieclement. I've read about Flora, but since she's supposed to be buried in South Carolina and the "Unknown Lady' is in Georgia, they're definitely two different people. I suspect that the discovery of this woman's gender after she died is not widely known about. I've got three post-mortem sources for it - the cemetery ledger and two different eyewitness accounts who say they saw a wooden grave marker at 13706 that read "Unknown Lady" and "died April 6, 1864." One says she was told that the Unknown Lady was the wife of an officer; the other says that he was told by the prison superintendent that she was a soldier and they discovered her gender after she died. Based on the cemetery ledger, the second version seems more correct.

Here is an image of the first account, which appeared in a magazine in November, 1865:
1613903093436.png



So far I've only read excerpts from the second account, but I have a request in at the Boston Public Library for them to pull a copy of it from their microfilms. (Boston Spectator and Weekly Advertiser; April 9, 1868)

I am pretty sure we won't be able to identify who SHE was, but am thinking that there might be a long shot that someone wrote that one of their comrades was discovered to have been a woman after she died, thus maybe giving us her regiment and letting us MAYBE figure out the name she served under. Like all military casualties, she deserves better than to just be left "unknown."
 
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I feel like someone must have compiled all the various reports of female soldiers in one place. It's a subject that elicits a lot of interest.
There are a couple of books and at least one blog, but they are more anecdotal than documented compilations, as near as I can tell. Unless someone on THIS board has compiled a list.... And not all stories are reliable. There's also a story that the individual in grave 101 is a woman, but my take on it is that they are talking about the same lady that's in 13706. The same date of death is given to both of them (although, numerically, grave 101 would have died in March, not April, 1864), I think that the confusion is because neither article gave a grave number, but the Boston paper states that the "Unknown lady" is at the end of a row. 101 is the only "Unknown" at the end of a row (I think - have to check this out when I'm down in July), so folks assumed that that's who he was referring to. 13706 is in the last row before the wall, but if you're looking from the street and consider all of the markers on the extreme left to be one "row" and the second to last markers on the left to be another "row," then 13706 IS at the end of a row (although really, column would have been a better word choice).

That's my take on it, anyway. There are some folks who think there was a woman in disguise in the stockade (and that she's in grave 101). I think there's the one "Unknown lady" in 13706, and that's the only Civil War "lady soldier" who's buried there.
 

Yankee Brooke

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I would think it would have been very hard to pretend to be a man in service and especially hard to do so in a POW camp.
I would think the last one nearly impossible. Weren't prisoners stripped regularly to check for contraband and stuff? If she was a prisoner, she must not have been in very long. Perhaps she was already sick and dying upon arrival?
 
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I would think the last one nearly impossible. Weren't prisoners stripped regularly to check for contraband and stuff? If she was a prisoner, she must not have been in very long. Perhaps she was already sick and dying upon arrival?
But Florena according to accounts went through captivity at Andersonville and Florence without being discovered.

I would think whether in service or especially in captivity, there would have to been accomplices in on the secret.....one can only guess how they would bargain for secrecy to be maintained.......

In Florenas case, apparently her husband was KIA...at that point it's hard to imagine she wouldn't need alliances with others
 
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I guess I can kinda see why some women would endure the hardships and masquerade to be with a husband or boyfriend. Florenas case baffles me.....her husband is killed and she's made prisoner....sent to Andersonville.

If she had simply arranged to see camp doctor or doctors, announced she was a woman, it's hard to imagine she wouldn't have been released and exchanged through the lines.....why continue the charade?
 

A. Roy

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I feel like someone must have compiled all the various reports of female soldiers in one place.

This would be a good project, wouldn't it?

There are a couple of books and at least one blog, but they are more anecdotal than documented compilations, as near as I can tell.

Wouldn't a documented compilation have to be compiled from anecdotes? How else might it be done? Just trying to envision how a project like this might be organized.

Roy B.
 
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This would be a good project, wouldn't it?



Wouldn't a documented compilation have to be compiled from anecdotes? How else might it be done? Just trying to envision how a project like this might be organized.

Roy B.
Point taken, Roy. What I was TRYING to say, and badly, is that the books consist of stories about women who disguised themselves to serve as soldiers, but as near as I an tell, there aren't any books that have compiled lists of instances where soldiers were reportedly later found to have been females in disguise.
 
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There are two documented cases of Union women being at Andersonville while the prison was in operation., but neither one was there in the guise of a soldier. One was a "disagreeable" woman named Margaret Leonard, who travelled with her husband's regiment, the 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery and went with him to Andersonville when the company was captured. They housed her with the Wirz's for a time, but she turned out to be so "disagreeable" that he had her sent to Castle Thunder as a Civilian prisoner. Warren Lee Goss mentions her in his 1865 prison memoir, A Soldier's Story. The other was Jane Hunt, who is probably the woman @drjekyll76 is thinking of. She WAS pregnant when she arrived at Andersonville, but was pretty far along when she got there, and was never mistaken for a soldier. She had the baby there, and there are multiple references to her, most notably in the diary of prisoner WIlliam H Smith and in the testimony at the Wirz trial (a black prisoner was whipped for "telling lies" about Mrs Hunt). If anyone knows anything more about Janie Hunt, Robert Scott Davis, who did a chapter on the women at Andersonville, would love to hear from you. I told him I'd keep an eye out for her.

Bob Davis examined the question of Florena Budwin in his chapter and came to the conclusion that she was never at Andersonville. He also questions whether or not she actually existed at all, since there are no written records for her prior to 1889. There are no records for any Budwins at Andersonville at all. He feels that her existence may well be "a legend, a hoax, or a plan to give false credence to some aspiring writer's plan for a novel that would have been passed off to the public as a work of nonfiction." He points out that the existence of a grave marker does not equal the existence of the woman and points out that the grave marker is a "replacement" ordered because the original stone had weathered away, but if she was buried, as reported, in a trench grave, she wouldn't have had an individual stone to start wth.

I don't know. This is not my area, but if anyone's interested, he discusses all of the known Union women at Andersonville in his chapter 'The Trojan Women" in his book "Ghosts and Shadows of Andersonville."

He does, I think, touch upon the lady in my original question as well, only he assumes that she was a prisoner and that she's in grave 101. Neither is accurate. And he reaches no conclusion about her.
 

Bloody7th

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I can't help but wonder that buried somewhere in the National Archives are some kind of interment records, or at least some record of where bodies had been exhumed, from where and by whom and where they were reinterred. Maybe in the Quartermaster's records?
 
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