Union Soldier's Letter by George H. Bucknam, Company A, 5th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry Concerning a Soldier Who Turned Out to be a Woman. Four page bifolium, 5" x 8", on patriotic letterhead, Camp California, Virginia; February 26, 1862. Letter by Bucknam addressed to "Friend Coggswell" mentioned that there was "not much of great interest to write about, for camp life is apt to be monotonous, but there are some little incidents that have happened, that are worth mentioning." One was the discovery that one soldier was a woman. "They found a lady soldier in the ranks of one of the New York regiments. She has been enlisted about six months, and has stood the hardships of a soldier's life very well, with the exception of carrying her knapsack and this she-he refused to do. The way she was detected was like this: She was washing her neck, (and as the poet would have it) 'She exposed her lily-white breasts.' She was taken to the surgeon and examined, and found to be, in reality-a woman! (?)."

    It is believed that between 400 and 750 women served as soldiers in both the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War, though the documented cases offer a much lower number. The woman referred to in this letter is unidentified. An interesting letter concerning the discovery of a woman posing as a man in the Civil War.

    Condition: The letter has the usual mail folds, with soiling to the exterior integral page. The colors of the patriotic letterhead remain exceptionally bright and attractive.

    More Information:

    George H. Bucknam, from Concord, New Hampshire, enlisted as a private in Company A, 5th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry on September 6, 1861 and mustered in on October 12, 1861.  He was wounded at the Battle of Fair Oaks on June 1, 1862, and later killed at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863.

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    May, 2017
    11th Thursday
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