It’s been 150 years since the start of the Civil War. In case you were wondering, yes, I’m from South Carolina and no, I don’t call it the “War of Northern Aggression.”
I remember hearing a news story about a woman serving in disguise during the Civil War and thought I’d look more into it from a legal perspective. Sarah E. E. Seelye, née Edmonds, served two years as a soldier in Company F, Second Michigan Infantry Volunteers. She disguised herself as a man, using the alias Franklin Thompson. She served faithfully, according to House Report 820, accompanying H.R. 5334, until “she was taken sick at Lebanon, KY, and being unable to obtain a furlough, and fearing the discovery of her sex, she absented herself without leave, and from that time was borne upon the rolls as a deserter.” H.R. 5334, 23 Stat. 598, ch. 298, of the 48th Congress was passed July 5, 1884 and granted Mrs. Seelye a pension of twelve dollars per month (seen at right). That would be about $271.99 per month in today’s dollars.
This bill was also part of a National Archives exhibit on Discovering the Civil War. I found some other information on Mrs. Seelye , which also contains an excerpt from the memoir she published about her service titled Nurse and Spy in the Union Army.