Facing an unwanted marriage, Emma Edmonds ran away, escaping pursuit by donning man's clothing and joining the Union army. Though undiscovered throughout the war, she may have confided in and courted the attentions of several men. As ""Frank Thompson,"" she was field nurse, postal rider, and spy, sometimes slipping behind Confederate lines. An excellent rider, a sure shot, and remarkably brave, Emma was in the thick of Bull Run, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. After the war, she resumed a woman's role, marrying a man she deeply loved; she described her adventures, in a mannered but lucid style, in her Nurse and Spy, occasionally quoted here. Stevens carefully differentiates between fact and supposition, explaining that Emma was good at deception and may well have embroidered her account. Pointing out what's authenticated, she notes where Emma's story may ring false, quoting other sources. While the tale's full of action and adventure, thoughtful readers will also be interested in Emma's struggle against women's second-rate status, the contrast between the romantic vision of war and its grim reality, and the intriguing question of who may have detected Emma's female identity. A fascinating account of an uncommonly enigmatic woman. List of sources; period photos & prints; index.