Memoirs of a Soldier, Nurse, and Spy: A Woman's Adventures in the Union Army

Overview

Among the hundreds of women who, disguised as men, enlisted to serve in the Union army, only Sarah Edmonds is known to have written a memoir recounting her experiences. As "Franklin Thompson" she joined the 2nd Michigan Infantry Regiment in 1861, then fought in some of the bloodiest struggles of the Civil War, from the first battle of Bull Run to the Kentucky Campaign of 1863.

This daring woman embarked upon dangerous missions into Confederate territory to gather information and...

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Overview

Among the hundreds of women who, disguised as men, enlisted to serve in the Union army, only Sarah Edmonds is known to have written a memoir recounting her experiences. As "Franklin Thompson" she joined the 2nd Michigan Infantry Regiment in 1861, then fought in some of the bloodiest struggles of the Civil War, from the first battle of Bull Run to the Kentucky Campaign of 1863.

This daring woman embarked upon dangerous missions into Confederate territory to gather information and to survey enemy positions, sometimes in the guise of a slave or Irish washerwoman, sometimes in Confederate uniform. Through her experiences as a "male nurse" and Union soldier Edmonds depicts the horrors of Civil War hospitals and the simple pastimes of camp life. Throughout her impassioned account, first published in 1865, this enthralling storyteller reveals her courage, dedication to the Union, and resourcefulness in concealing her identity.

Three years after her death, Edmonds's body was reinterred with military honors by her comrades, who recognized in her a "strong, healthy, and robust soldier, ever willing and ready for duty." The introduction and annotations by Elizabeth D. Leonard, a leading authority on Civil War women, support and amplify Edmonds's account. Challenging established views of the Civil War soldier, Memoirs of a Soldier, Nurse, and Spy is compelling reading, especially for those interested in the Civil War, women's history, American studies, and military history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An extraordinary story for any war's retelling.... Elizabeth Leonard, the leading authority on women in the Civil War armies, has provided excellent editorial notes and has pieced Edmonds's story together in admirable fashion."—The Historian

"Fascinating.... Sarah Edmonds's memoir is not to be missed."—Michigan Historical Review

"Great fun to read."—Civil War Courier

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780875802596
  • Publisher: Northern Illinois University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1999
  • Pages: 250
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.33 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Publisher's Notice to the 1865 Edition
1 What Part Am I to Act in This Great Drama? 3
2 Marching Orders Received Today 10
3 How Shall I Describe the Scene? 17
4 When General McClellan Took Command 25
5 A Fair Specimen of Virginia Mud 34
6 Her Name Was Alice M 42
7 I Had Known Him Almost From Childhood 51
8 My First Secret Expedition 59
9 The Ghastly Faces of the Wounded and Dying 67
10 The Annihilation of the Merrimac 76
11 A New Disguise Was Necessary 83
12 I Now Resumed My Journey 92
13 Acting Orderly for General K 99
14 A Terrible Slaughter 108
15 Many an Hour I Have Worked and Watched 116
16 Yelling as They Came 122
17 A Most Sublime Spectacle 130
18 My Turn to Visit Washington 139
19 My Constant Companion 148
20 I Am Not What I Seem 155
21 The Pleasantest, Happiest Hours of My Life 164
22 A Military Execution and a Dreary Ride 172
23 A Sad Day for the Army of the Potomac 179
24 More Quiet and Less Dangerous Duties 186
25 To Act as Detective 193
26 A Specimen of Moral Sublimity 200
27 I Have the Honor to Propose to You an Armistice 207
28 Exhausted and Weak as a Child 215
29 I Recall Those Thrilling Scenes 222
30 Now That the Time Has Come 229
Notes 237
Suggested Readings 259
Index 261
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