Two Ladies at Belle Isle

Joined
Aug 2, 2019
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Since March is Women's History Month thought I'd share this passage from C. M. Prutsman's book, Soldier's Experiences in Southern Prisons.

At one time during the winter, some sanitary goods in the shape of clothing, blmkets and provisions were received and issued to the enlisted men at Belle Isle. Six officers from the prison {Libby] were taken over to distribute these, and while engaged in that duty they were approached by two rather peculiar looking persons wearing the Uniforms of the Union Army. They proved to be regularly enlisted soldiers who had been captured with their comrades as prisoners of war. Upon inquiry, it was discovered, or rather, they voluntarily gave the information, tha they were of the gentler sex. This was a surprise that came very near taking away the breath of the officers. They explained how, imbued with the spirit of loyalty to the flag of their country, and being so situated that such a disguise was feasible, they had donned the garb of the male sex, eluded the vigilance of the examining surgeon and succeeded in enlisting in the service of Uncle Sam. Up to this time they had kept their identity concealed and had taken part in several engagements as valiant soldiers, but by the fortune of war, were not lying as prisoners at Belle Isle. The treatment received in prison was more than they felt like submitting to, so now they confessed their deception and asked to be released. The officers told them that if they would consent to being released on the ground of being non-combatants, he [sic] would make the effort. Their consent was readily given. The next day he reported the case and demanded their release, which was immediately obtained, after which they were brought to Libby, where they remained until a purse could be raised with which to purchase suitable female wearing apparel. They were then taken aboard the truce boat at City Point, amid the "Cod bless yous" of those who had secured their release. I never heard what became of them, but they said that their home was in West Virginia, and that they belonged to a regiment from that state. I have always had a curiosity to know what the government did for these and other similar cases that were events of our Civil War.

I have no idea as to the date or the identities of the two ladies in question, but it doesn't speak well of the examining surgeon that he could have missed something like that!
 
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lupaglupa

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I think examination was an exaggeration for what most soldiers got given. If they could walk, talk, understand basic instructions, and had functioning eyes and hands they were enlisted without further ado.
 

Ole Miss

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Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
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Hard for me to imagine a woman wanting to serve in the army let alone one in a POW camp with men. I know from my readings that some women joined the military for food and better conditions at home. Very tough life for them.
Regards
David
 

Mrs. V

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May 5, 2017
Some ladies did enlist for the adventure, some enlisted to be near relatives or husbands. Women are made of strong stuff. And the key here is that no one even thought a woman would do such a thing, so they weren’t necessarily looking for imposters. Besides, some of those gals could really shoot, they knew how to cook etc, etc..and with the modesty of many Victorians, they could scoot away to wee by thier lonesome..
 

bayouace

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Nov 22, 2020
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Louisiana
Some ladies did enlist for the adventure, some enlisted to be near relatives or husbands. Women are made of strong stuff. And the key here is that no one even thought a woman would do such a thing, so they weren’t necessarily looking for imposters. Besides, some of those gals could really shoot, they knew how to cook etc, etc..and with the modesty of many Victorians, they could scoot away to wee by thier lonesome..
"Strong stuff" indeed. If wives and husbands alternated having children, wives first, no family would have more than 3 kids.
 
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Joined
Aug 2, 2019
Seems like I have read of a woman soldier dying in one of the southern prisons and only then being discovered.
You may have read that here. At the beginning of the month we were discussing the "Unknown Lady" who "died as a soldier" amd os buried in Grave 13706 at Andersonville, although she was not a prisoner, but her remains were moved to the cemetery from an unknown location after the war ended. The search to identify her is currently stalled until the National Archives reopen and I can go through the re interment records.
'
 
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