Civil War on the Web

by Fred Ray on July 7, 2011 · 1 comment

An AP article on women re-enactors:

With her breasts tightly bound, shoulder-length red hair tucked under a shaggy auburn wig and upper lip hidden by a drooping mustache, Henry impersonates Lt. Harry T. Buford, a real-life Confederate soldier.

The impression could hardly be more accurate since Buford, too, was a woman. He was invented by Loreta Janeta Velazquez, a Cuban-born woman from New Orleans who fought as a man in a series of Civil War battles including the First Battle of Bull Run, according to her autobiography.

Researchers have documented more than 200 such cases. And today, a small number of women follow suit by donning blue and gray uniforms as Civil War re-enactors.

And a look at regimental mascots in the war, including the most famous, Old Abe the eagle, named for the president, a bird who saw his share of combat.

…Old Abe was assigned to the color guard and received a new perch that consisted of a shield-shaped plate with a crossbar he could roost on. Decorated with stars and stripes, the plate connected to a five-foot long pole, which was carried by the men into battle.


Old Abe was almost killed twice. At the Battle of Corinth, in Mississippi, a minie ball cut the leather cord connecting him to his perch. As he flew down the Union lines of the battlefield, Confederates tried to shoot him. Confederate Gen. Sterling Price offered a bounty to his men, adding that he would rather get the eagle than a whole regiment. After someone in the regiment cropped Old Abe’s tail and wing feathers to prevent him from flying away again, his outraged bearer, David McLain, resigned his post. Old Abe’s other near miss occurred during the siege of Vicksburg in 1863 when a Confederate minie ball grazed his neck and chest, taking off the feathers in its path and damaging his left wing.

And a poignant letter from Mary Lincoln concerning the death of her son Tad, written from the White House.

All that human skill could do was done for our sainted boy, I fully believe the severe illness, he passed through, now, almost two years since, was but a warning to us that one so pure, was not to remain long here and at the same time, he was lent us a little longer – to try us & wean us from our world, whose chains were fastening around us & when the blow came if found us unprepared to meet it. Our home is very beautiful, the grounds around us are enchanting the world still smiles & pays homage, yet the charm is dispelled – everything appears a mockery, the idolized one is not with us, he has fulfilled his mission and we are left desolate.

The six page letter was recently auctioned for over $26,000.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Stitch Counter July 8, 2011 at 4:22 am

Well there ya go…this now gives credence to the hundreds of women reenactors in the ranks in their polyester uniforms, long flowing hair and other..uh assets clearly unhidden..see they were right all along. Guess they are all ‘impersonating’ the same few women. They’d be flattered I tell ya…


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