PATRIOTS IN DISGUISE by Richard Hall

PATRIOTS IN DISGUISE

Women Warriors of the Civil War
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A hearty, if indifferently written, celebration of women's courage under fire during the Civil War. According to Hall (a Maryland-based Civil War enthusiast), the role of women on both sides of the war may have been much greater than generally recognized. Women's services as nurses have long been acclaimed, but Hall has come across many instances in which women cut their hair, put aside their dresses, and passed themselves off as male soldiers as well. With the distinction between camp and battlefield often blurred, and in the din and confusion of combat, women could slip easily into roles as nurse, ``daughter of the regiment'' (an ornamental leader of parades in camp and all-purpose battlefield assistant), spy, and soldier. These ``half-soldier heroines'' risked detection of their camouflage, separation from male loved ones, ill health, and death in serving their causes. Among the women warriors singled out by Hall are Sarah Emma Edmonds (``Private Franklin Thompson''), who served as an orderly and spy for the North when not nursing solders; Loreta Janeta Valazquez, who fought for the South as ``Lieutenant Harry Buford'' at the first Battle of Bull Run before becoming a spy and gunrunner; and the Irish-born Jennie Hodgers, who, disguised as ``Albert Cashier,'' served three years with the 95th Infantry Regiment--and who kept her secret until it was exposed upon her commitment to an old-age home. Hall has uncovered many useful memoirs, diaries, letters, military records, and newspaper articles confirming the validity of these women's once sharply disputed exploits. Yet, while quoting extensively from original sources, he seldom brings his own style or point of view into play; nor does he adequately analyze the conditions that enabled these women to pass undetected for so long. Intriguing anecdotes of a little-known chapter of the Civil War, undermined by superficial treatment. (B&w photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 1-55778-438-8
Page count: 256pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1992




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