Saturday, September 4, 2021

Poem: She, Too, Wore the Gray by Allen Baswell

A few years ago, I gave a presentation at the library in Louisville, Mississippi.  One of the attendees who braved the storms that day was a gentleman named Allen Baswell.  He is a writer and poet, and he recently composed a piece about a fictional woman soldier.   Thank you, Mr. Baswell, for using your gift to honor these extraordinary women.  I was delighted that he shared his work with me and that he gave me permission to share it with you.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

She, too, wore the gray


Months have passed since Ellen saw her brother off to war

as she packed his knapsack and loaded his gun

“Dear sis, I’m off to fight Billy Yank,” he said. “I plan to have fun!”

In time, she would come up with a bold and risky plan

to join the Rebel army—but she would be a man

Ellen cuts her hair; dons men’s attire, grabs her gun

when she enlists, she says her name is Ellis

In camp, days later, her brother sees her, and is in dismay

“Dear sis, it can’t be…you’ve joined the army!”

yes, she said she did join, and she is ready to fight

and will fight to the very end, the wretched enemy

“You know how good I can shoot..I’m the best shot in the county!”

May, 1863, Vicksburg, Mississippi—

a summer morning calm and pristine

as the day moves on, it’ll be a changing scene

at Champion’s Hill, she caught a bullet in the left knee

her wound is serious—so she returns home to Tippah County

Years quickly pass, she’s married with kids galore

her youngest son rambles through the closet, sees her old uniform

The child asks, “Is this yours, Mommy? Did you fight in the war?”

The child’s father replies, “Yes, she did…with valor and glory

Your mother fought stout and brave, her courage never did cave

her love for her native Southland—she did not betray

with pride and honor…she, too, wore the gray.”

                                                           --Allen Baswell

                                                               © 09-02-21

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Video - Woman Soldier at Brice's Crossroads

 Several months ago, I gave a book talk on women soldiers at the Mississippi's Final Stands Interpretive Center.  A large crowd of 75 guests were present, among whom were several college students from Blue Mountain College along with their professor.  During my presentation, I shared this video about a woman soldier who fought at the Battle of Brice's Crossroads.

Until next

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Paying the Price: The Consequences of Discovery

My friend and fellow author, Mark Flotow, periodically sends me accounts relative to my research.  He is the author of In Their Letters, In Their Words:  Illinois Soldiers Write Home.  Visit his website to learn more about him and his research:  Most of the accounts Mark sends me  have a Springfield, Illinois connection since that is where he is from.  His latest submission involved a civilian named Ellen Nolan who was discovered wearing male attire in the city.  Mark commented, "Note the fine amount versus being drunk on 'bad whisky.'"


The $7 discrepancy is a whole different topic, but it gave me the idea to discuss the price women paid - both socially and financially - for daring to overstep the bounds of propriety.

Monday, February 1, 2021

J.R.R. Tolkien's Warrior Woman: Éowyn - Part 5 - Experiences as a Soldier

In my previous posts, I discussed the backgrounds of Éowyn and her historical counterparts.  Research reveals a life of trauma and torment for many of these women that they escaped by joining the military.   Click [HERE] for the prior installment.  In this article, I am going to detail their experiences as soldiers.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Female Home Guard Units

With so many men marching off to war, women found themselves in charge of their homes and hearths.  Among the unconventional roles they assumed in the absence of their male loved ones included managing farms and hunting for food.   In addition to these undertakings which provided for their families, they also formed home guard units in order to protect them.  I mentioned a couple of these in my book, Behind the Rifle.  One unit existed in Chickasaw County, Mississippi:

Raftsmans Journal, April 10, 1861

Chickasaw County, Mississippi - Wikipedia
Chickasaw County

Friday, October 16, 2020

Monday, September 7, 2020

J.R.R. Tolkien's Warrior Woman: Éowyn - Part 4 - Escape

In my previous articles, I introduced Éowyn and examined possible bases for her character and background while illustrating how these concepts parallel those involving women soldiers of the Civil War.  In this piece, I will discuss how these women's dire need for escape from their tumultuous lives ultimately led them to serve clandestinely in military roles.

Monday, July 27, 2020

The Battle of Ezra Church and Women Soldiers

Part of the Atlanta campaign, the Battle of Ezra Church was a nasty affair fought on this day in 1864.  And I was excited to learn recently that a previously undocumented woman soldier fought in it.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Finding "William Bradley": Black Woman Soldier of Miles' Legion

I shared new information regarding the remarkable account of "William Bradley" in my book.  In this article, I'd like to explain the sources I used and how I arrived at the conclusions I did.

To summarize, Pvt. Bradley enlisted in what would become Company G of Miles' Legion and served briefly in April 1862.  All of the infantry units that comprised this legion originated from south Louisiana except for Company G, which was raised in the Natchez, Mississippi area.

"Mustered in through mistake,
was of female sex."

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Video: A Woman Soldier at Camp Strong, Iowa

In this video shot last year, Mark and I talk about Camp Strong, a training camp in Muscatine, Iowa, and a woman soldier who mustered in there.