Today’s post comes from Barbara in Robbinsdale
Last Sunday I came upon this article in the Minnesota History segment of the Mpls. Star Tribune – it’s about a St. Paul woman, Frances Clalin Clayton, who followed her husband into the Civil War in 1861, pretending to be his brother. Frances saw her husband killed a few paces in front of her during fighting in Tennessee – “charged over his body… driving the rebels with the bayonet.” There are varying reports of how her identity was ultimately revealed.
After Frances was discharged, she lost her papers and money to Confederate guerrillas on a train, and apparently spent some of her remaining life trying to collect money she was owed for her and her husbands’ service.
To maintain a convincing masculine identity, “Frances Clayton took up all the manly vices. To better conceal her sex, she learned to drink, smoke, chew, and swear. She was especially fond of cigars. She even gambled, and a fellow soldier declared that he had played poker with her on a number of occasions.” —DeAnne Blanton and Lauren M. Cook, They Fought Like Demons, 2003
I was immediately reminded, as I read the article, of two songs that were surely played on TLGMS (the late, great Morning Show, the radio program that brought many of us to this blog).
- From Peter Paul and Mary’s version of The Cruel War: I’ll tie back my hair, men’s clothing I’ll put on I‘ll pass as your comrade, as we march along I’ll pass as your comrade no one will ever know Won’t you let me go with you? No, my love, no
- And a traditional song, though not about the Civil War, was sung by Sally Rogers on her first album The Unclaimed Pint: “(When I Was) A Fair Maid”, lyrics here.
For what event have you been willing to “cross-dress”?