Civil War Re-Enactor Celebrates the Women Who Hid Their Faces to Fight a War [Video]
by Jamie Frevele | 2:32 pm, July 25th, 2011
Meet Joyce Henry, a woman who considers herself to be both “eccentric” and a historian. And while a large part of her work entails performance, the face you see above is one that not even her mother could recognize — because she’s playing a Confederate soldier. Who was a woman. Who disguised herself as a man. Cuba-born Loretta Janeta Velasquez dressed as a man, Lt. Harry Buford, and enlisted in the military when her then-fiance refused to let her come with him when he enlisted. She was unmasked, then enlisted again. Eventually, she became a spy and later published a 600-page book about her life in the military. And now, Joyce Henry carries on her legacy, fooling even her closest acquaintances.
The video cannot be embedded, but we urge you to click here and watch it at the BBC.
Civil War buffs are currently celebrating the 150th anniversary of Battle of Bull Run/First Manassas, a battle which is said to have included Velasquez (as Buford). At least, that is what she claims. While her military career as a woman in disguise has not been disputed, some feel that some of the details described in her book, The Woman in Battle: A Narrative of the Exploits, Adventures, and travels of Madame Loreta Janeta Velazquez, Otherwise Known as Lieutenant Harry T Buford, Confederate States Army (and you thought The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was a long title), could have been exaggerated.
Either way, Velasquez was only one of many women who cross-dressed in order to fight in the Civil War. See? We have our own Mulan! Except for the whole Confederate thing.