Christian Commission Essay
The foregoing discussion showed that during the civil war women served in many capacities. They helped in the war effort even though they only stayed at home by knitting socks and sewing shirts and uniforms; they organized themselves in order to raise funds for the war chest; they acted as medics and field nurses; and some of them, who proved as brave if not braver than the others, literally risked their lives by playing the dangerous game of espionage.
However, their participation in the war did not stop there. They defied the law in both the North and the South which prohibited women to join the army as fighting soldiers by posing as men. Both the Union and the Confederate armies were duped into drafting women disguised as men. Although most of them were probably propelled by extreme patriotism, it turned out that many joined the army for other, more personal reasons. One of the most notable women soldiers in the Union army was Sarah Emma Edmonds.
Sarah joined the army as a volunteer in Michigan, where she enlisted as a man by the name of Franklin Thompson. (Lewis, 2007) She later served with the 2nd Michigan Infantry for a couple of years. It was reported that there were times when she had to act as a spy disguised either as a black man or as a ‘woman. ’(Hall, n. d. ) She was reported to have seen action in the “Battle of Blackburn’s Ford, the Peninsular Campaign, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. ” According some accounts, she later deserted and became a nurse with the “U. S. Christian Commission. ”
(Lewis, 2007) However, there were reports that she voluntarily left the army after contracting malaria and feared that she would be found out if she would submit for treatment. (CivilWarStudies. org, n. d. ) Her application for a veteran’s pension which was approved in 1884 was given under the name Sarah E. E. Seelye, her married name. (Lewis, 2007) She was later named to the “Grand Army of the Republic,” the lone female to have been so named. (Hall, n. d. ) Another interesting story was that of Malinda Blalock.
In her desire to be with her husband, William Mckesson Blalock (known as Keith to friends), she pretended to be William’s brother, Samuel. She then joined F Company of the “26th North Carolina Infantry” where Keith was also serving. Malinda was a Confederate by heart while Keith was a dyed-in-the-wool “Lincolnite” and was loyal to the Union cause. Although Keith was pressured by his family and fiends into joining the Confederate Army, he was always entertaining thoughts of deserting as soon as an opportunity presented itself.
Malinda, despite being a loyal Confederate subject, was prepared to desert with him anytime. (Hall, n. d. ) However, the opportunity for desertion not having presented itself, the couple fought alongside each other under the Confederate flag (in a total of three battles) until March 1862 when Malinda sustained a shoulder wound. Afraid that they would be separated as soon as it was known that Malinda was a woman and forced out of the unit, Keith covered himself with poison oak to develop skin blisters and high fever. Fearing a case of small pox, the company doctor decided to discharge him for medical reason.
The couple left Company F together on April 20, 1862 and went home to the “mountains of western North Carolina” to rest. The risk of recall to duty remained for Keith, however. So what the two did was hide in the mountains and turned Union guerillas, operating in the mountainous areas of East Tennessee and western North Carolina. Keith and Malinda later functioned as scouts attached to the “10th Michigan Cavalry. ” (Halls, n. d. ) There was also a case involving a 19-year-old immigrant from Ireland. He gave the name Albert D. J. Cashier when he signed up with the 95th Illinois Infantry on August 3, 1862.
He was said to have participated in about forty major and minor battles until August 17, 1865. After his stint with the Union army, he found employment as an ordinary laborer and ultimately received a pension. He later lived in a Soldier’s Home located in Quincy, Illinois where, in 1913, he was eventually discovered by a home surgeon that he was actually a she. Albert D. J. Cashier’s being a woman made the headlines. Nobody who knew her during her whole adult life ever suspected that she was in reality a woman. On October 11, 1914, Cashier died in an asylum for the mentally ill. (Blanton, 1993)