Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Health Aid

Women Posing as Male Civil War Soldiers

AUGUST 18, 1864

Two females dressed in Federal uniform were brought to the Irving Block from the front on Tuesday [16th]. They were arrested in the camps of the 21st Missouri Infantry, in which they were serving, one as a drummer and the other as teamster, under the named of Charley Davis and Wm. Morris. The drummer's real name is Jane Short. Previous to joining the 21st Mo., she served for over a year as private in the 6th Illinois cavalry; into which regiment she enlisted from Shawneetown, Ill,. where she resided before the war. She was at the battle of Shiloh, and was there wounded in the hand by a musket ball. After recovering she rejoined her regiment and participated in various conflicts, until prostrated by sickness and sent to the hospital, which led to her discharge. She then came to Memphis and lived, she does not say how for several months, when pining for the excitement of glorious war again, she joined the band of the 21st Missouri, in which she performed excellent service on the base drum until the time of her arrest. In appearance she is thick set, full-faced, has short hair of a light color, and blue eyes. In uniform one would never suspect her to be a woman; she looks much like an unsophisticated country lad of twenty years and [earnest?] modesty.

Lou Morris, alias Bill Morris, the younger of the two, is much better looking than her companion, seems more active and sprightly, and, consequently, less modest. She formerly resided in St. Louis, from which place she enlisted in the "Red Rovers" of the 10th Missouri cavalry, eighteen months since, and served nine months, passing unhurt through several engagements. She then deserted and coming to Memphis, lived as a woman until meeting with Jane short, with whom she started of the wars again, as teamster in the 2d Missouri Infantry. They were never acquainted before meeting at a hotel in this city. They claim that they have not revealed their sex, nor was it discovered by any of their comrades since they entered the service, and that their enlistment was promoted by patriotic motives only. They wanted to do a small share towards "licking the rebs" as Lou said. The cause of their arrest, Lou informed me, was that Jane became frightened at the report that the regiment was to be sent out, with others, to meet Forrest, and revealed their sex to one of the officers, who reported them at headquarters, when they were sent to the Provost Marshal of the right wing of the 16th Army Corps, and thence to Memphis. Lou said she was not frightened, and intends to join another regiment if she gets a chance. Jane is content to return to the paths of peace again. Lou, when dressed in uniform, looks as little like a woman as her companions, and presented the appearance of a hardy boy of eighteen. They are much tanned by exposure. It is the intention of the authorities to sent to their homes, if they have any.

Memphis Bulletin, August 18, 1864.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

April 7, 1863 - Report on subversive civilian activities in West Tennessee

April 7, 1863 - Report on subversive civilian activities in West Tennessee


Lieut.-Col. BINMORE, Asst. Adjt. Gen., Memphis:

SIR: I have the honor to inclose to you copies of letters captured in Richardson's camp, showing some of the schemes resorted to by those permitted to trade at Memphis and other points. I am keeping a black list, upon which all such individuals are registered.

Very respectfully, your most obedient servant,


[Inclosure No. 1.]

RALEIGH, December 4, 1862.



We have daily application by deserters from the Federal camp at Memphis for paroles, and if we had any authority to do so, we could, through some friends at Memphis, induce hundreds to come to us. There is a great dissatisfaction in their camps, especially with the late levies, and by proper management they could be drawn off in large numbers. They come out, but are afraid to travel far in the country till they are paroled, for designing persons have told them that they would be captured by rebels and put in the Southern army, and their clothing taken. Two were sent to us on yesterday, who were anxious to be paroled, and we sent them in the direction of your camp. They said there were 50 men in their regiment who would escape if they were not afraid of our men harming them. We told them not to fear. We have an arrangement already in Memphis whereby we can induce many to come to us if we are authorized to parole them. We can procure from them a large number of side-arms at reduced prices, and we will let your men have them at cost. We can have them bring with them the best of arms, and thus weaken their stock of arms as well as men. We therefore ask you to authorize J. M. Coleman and myself to parole such as come, and we think we can in this manner contribute largely in reducing the strength of the enemy at Memphis, and also help to arm your regiment. If you approve our suggestion, we wish you to send us blanks printed for us all. Please answer us by the first one who comes from your regiment. We wish our names not known in the matter, because such would subject us to the baser outrages of the Federals, and we can at the same time conduct the matter so it will not be discovered. You can likewise keep the same with yourself, alone.

Hoping to hear from you soon, we remain, your friends,


OR, Ser. I, Vol. 24, pt. III, pp. 176-177.

[Inclosure No. 2.]

NEAR SOMERVILLE, TENN., January 29, 1863.


On my way home I sold one of my black horses to Mr. Broadenax, near Belmont. He belongs to Jackson's cavalry, and if Maj. Buery will show him the other, he will buy him also. I have contributed $25 toward buying Mr. Sharpe a horse for the service, and hope it will be all right with you. I shall start to Memphis to-day, and would be off before this, only I found my child very sick. I understand Grant has gone down the river, and that he left some 2,500 troops at Memphis in a disorganized state that he could not make go with him. You shall hear from me as soon as I return.

Respectfully, yours, &c.,


[Inclosure No. 3.]

FEBRUARY 1, 1863.


When I was at your camp I understood you to say that you had orders to break up the entire trade with

Memphis; consequently I now write to you upon a subject that interests a good many good citizens of this section. Since seeing you, one of Col. [R. F.] Looney's aides obtained from him permission for me to take five loads of cotton to Memphis, and Mr. George Hood, by a similar permit, has just returned from taking some down. Now, I wish to [know] if your orders and Col. Looney's are liable to conflict, or if I would be molested by soldiers belonging to your command, or not. My view about the one article of cotton is this, that most all of the people have sold all their cotton, while others equally as deserving of these privileges have not sold any, and that it would fall heavy on them now to have their cotton destroyed, and that it must be disposed of in one of these ways; that is, to hunt it up a burn it, let the people sell it, or wait till the Yankees come and take it for nothing. I don't think Gen. Pemberton fully understood the situation of the people here or he would not have given such orders.

I, myself, never thought of selling a bale of cotton until the Yankees got south of us, and I saw persons making money out of it that cared nothing for the South and gave themselves no trouble to accommodate Southern citizens or soldiers except at large profits.

My situation was this: I had lost all my property in Missouri. I have eight children there with my mother, by my first wife, who have been made destitute by the war. I had my wife and one child with me, and but $13 in my pocket, so it is not to be wondered at if I wanted to make something for their support, and while I have been taking cotton to market and selling it for both citizens and soldiers, I have been working out contraband articles of every kind for them and letting them go at Memphis prices. I will name some of the articles: Salt, domestics, soldier clothing, dress goods, cavalry boots, saddles, and horses, military buttons, gold lace, revolvers, caps and cartridges, medicines, &c. I have been spoken to how to bring out over a dozen revolvers and cavalry boots, hats, &c., and shall take my wife and several others down with the in doing so.

Mr. Pierce, Mr. McFadden, Mr. Yancey, and several others belonging to your command want me to take their cotton; also several ladies, whose husbands are south, in the army, and they need the money and several other things that they may want me to bring out; but I have nothing to lose, and don't want to get into trouble is the reason I write to you, and also thinking that possibly you and Col. Looney had decided any points about other things, and being of that opinion, I will make a proposition, and that is this: For every bale of cotton I am permitted to take to market, I will contribute to you $10 in Tennessee money, for the benefit of your soldiers, to be used as you may think proper, which, after paying $20 per bale for hauling, will not leave a very large margin for profits. At the same time I will ever be ready to serve you or your cause in any way that I can half-way consistent with my safety. I do not make this proposition to induce you to deviate from what you may conceive to be your duty, but thinking it might redound to the benefit of all concerned.

When I got home from your camp, I found my child sick with croup. Getting out also came very near laying me up, for my constitution has been had ever since I had congestive chills, in 1852, and I am fearful I have delayed going to Memphis so long that the revolvers and powder I spoke for may be disposed of; but I will learn in a few days. Please write to me by bearer, if you think it right and proper, also indorse [inclose?] me a pass to Memphis for myself and wagons, and I will come and see you upon my return.

Respectfully, yours, &c.,


N. B.-Strictly confidential.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 24, pt. III, pp. 177-178.

[Inclosure No. 4.]

FEBRUARY 4, 1863.


On my way home I sold one of my black horses to Mr. Broadenax, who bought him for his son, who was a soldier, and, I believe, belongs to Jackson's cavalry. I then gave Mr. Sharpe $25 toward buying him a horse, and wrote you a few lines by him, and inclosed your receipt for the horses. He will be there, possibly, by the time you get this. I hope, as a Southern soldier, even true, you will be satisfied with what I have done. In regard to bringing out ammunition and pistols, caps, &c., I can only say this: If any Southern man can get them in Memphis, I can, and if I can get anything that your men want I will do so, and you can have them at cost; but by having several teamsters with me, I will be materially aided in doing so. I fear no damage, except some Union Scoundrels should find out what I am and have been doing, and go to Memphis and inform the Yankees. Everything you say or do with me shall be between us, and I hope to become better acquainted with you.

Yours, &c.,


HDQRS. FIRST DIVISION, LaGrange, Tenn. April 7, 1863.

Lieut. Col. HENRY BINMORE, Asst. Adjt. Gen.:

COL.: Following the example of Maj.-Gen. Hurlbut in the matter of removing beyond our lines disloyal families for offenses, I have caused the accompanying letter to Col. W. W. Sanford, commanding Fourth Brigade, to be written. If it meets with the approval of the general commanding the Sixteenth Army Corps, I will see that the directions contained therein shall be promptly executed. I inclose also the letter from Col. Sanford, which called it forth.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,



HDQRS. FOURTH Brig., FIRST DIV., SIXTEENTH A. C., Germantown, Tenn., April 7, 1863.

Capt. H. ATKINSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.:

SIR: I have the honor to report that on the night of the 5th instant, a company sent out from Buntyn Station to patrol the road west of that place, discovered some obstruction placed on the railroad in two different places, composed of cross-ties and rails. They were sufficient to have thrown a train from the track. They were removed and a vigilant watch kept during the night, but the perpetrators were not discovered nor the object of these obstructions determined. I have caused a patrol of 20 men, under charge of an officer, to be sent out from each station every night, with instructions the road all night and keep a vigilant watch.

I have the honor to be, very truly, your obedient servant,

W. W. SANFORD, Col., Cmdg. Fourth Brigade.


Col. W. W. SANFORD, Comdg. Fourth Brigade, Germantown:

COL.: In answer to your communication of this date, in reference to obstructions having been placed at two different points on the railroad on the night of the 5th instant, the general commanding the division directs that you notify the six rebel families who live nearest the scenes of this outrage that they remove south of our lines within ten days, not to return during the war. You will see that this order is enforced. The most undoubted proofs of loyalty will be required when any doubts exist as to the proper subjects of this order.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

HOFFMAN ATKINSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 24, pt. III, pp. 178-180.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Social Evil

The Nashville Republican Banner of August 4, 1867, carried a tragic story under the title :"The Social Evil." It dealt with the deaths of two prostitutes o­n the 3d. August was even then known for slow news days and so this extended story appeared. It is unlikely that we would know about it if it had occurred in any other month. It was a sad story, however - both women died from an overdose of morphine, in two otherwise unrelated deaths. Death due to drug overdose are nothing new. :Yes, how we long for the good old days when there were no prostitutes and no drug addicts or overdoses, when America's moral fiber was strong and the only thing we had to kill were those pesky Indians. I digress. The story:

A double tragedy, bearing the nature of a coincidence, occurred at No. 116 and 120 South Cherry street, which resulted yesterday morning in the death of Jane Caroline Gills, alias "Matt Wells," and "Thursday Maury," alias "Lou Rice," alias "Lou Wilks. The two women were both handsome and dashing dames du pave [street walkers], who occupied, with other kindred and congenial spirits, the dwellings in question. The first is a one story brick, the other a story and a half frame, mildewed and somewhat out of repairs. They are just beyond Anderson's foundry, on the east side of the street. That quarter of the town is made up of small and dingy buildings, but is not considered disreputable. In other words, the gay ladies of the aristocratic jungles regard it as out of fashion and "second rate," and have long since abandoned it for more recherché regions to the north of the Square and Capitol Hill. Although the two unfortunate women came to their death by morphine, and were intimated, living next door to each other, it does not appear that there was any concerted design in the mode or manner of their death. We shall have to take the cases, therefore, separately, and, for the purpose of simplifying our story, begin with No. 116. There are some curious creatures that give color and character to each.


The habituĂ©s of the splendid house of Madame Elize, on Tenth street, in the City of St. Louis, will doubtless remember a sweet-faced, rosey [sic] cheeked, plump little girl, who came there three years ago from the neighboring country, and soon acquired, by her gaiety and vivacious manners, the sobriquet of the :Star of the West.: She was the daughter of a poor Welsh wine-presser, of the name of Gills, and had married a steamboat man before she was fifteen years old. Her husband took her to New Orleans and died, leaving her with one child. A year after she married again, and came up to Paducah, where she was left by her second lord and master who happened to be a "sport" and on the "rove." On his return he found her engaged in a desperate intrigue with an actor, with whom, like a philosopher, he wisely resolved to leave her. The actor soon deserted her, and thus she, after various adventures, found herself at seventeen, having given birth to and lost three children, an inmate of a brilliant house of ill-fame, its "chief care," and favorite. She played the piano, sang songs, gambled, caused two duels, was on and off with a dozen "lovers,": faded, grew desperate and finally disappeared. She came from St. Louis to Nashville just seven months ago.[so, she came - so to say- to Nashville in February 1867-ed.] Since her arrival she has devoted herself to a single "friend," but has shown signs of a reckless disposition. Her principal associate was a her neighbor, Lou Wilks and the two indulged only too freely in the "flowing bowl: for the purpose as they say of "drowning their cares: the o­ne had deserted a worthy farther [sic] and virtuous vineyard, and the other had here cause of grief and regret likewise, which we will relate.


On Temperance hill, in East Knoxville, there lived, perhaps there still lives, a worthy laboring man, Joseph Maury by name. He married about ten years ago - ran away with and married - a young girl from o­ne of the upper counties, of rich and respectable parents. They came to Knoxville where, they lived happily enough until the fall of that city in 1862 [sic], when a faithful wife and mother was converted by flattery and excitement into an abandoned woman. She was led astray by a Federal Colonel, and eloped with a soldier en route for the "front," who brought her to Nashville. Her husband was not able to follow her, but she contrived afterward to procure her only child, a son, who is now an orphan of about nine years old. Her career ever since has been ­ne of dissipation. Yet she is only twenty six- prematurely old, wrinkled and decayed.


Jane Gill, the "Star of the West," and Mary Wilks, the truant wife of poor [Joseph] Maury met for the last time Friday evening August 2d about dusk, on the suspension bridge. one had been in Edgefield on a business errand, and the other had repaired to the bridge to fill an appointment with her lover. The faithless man did not appear and the pair turned homeward down Market street. On the way home May Wild [apparently a prostitute friend] stopped at an apothecary's and bought some morphine. The pair parted soon thereafter.


Jane Gill entered her room flushed and excited. Her lover had not kept his appointment. The object, it seems, she had first in mind was the payment of her rent, which was due, and for this reason she had written him to meet her at the bridge, and he had promise her that he would do so. His failure evinced a determination not to "come down with the stamps." [sic] She was greatly depressed and talked much about her condition, saying that she would rather die than be turned out by the Sheriff [for not paying her rent]. A little before twelve o'clock (Friday night) she went to Page's drug store and bought a small bottle of morphine, representing that a woman had just been taken ill of cholera morbus. Previously to this she had drank at least a pint of whisky. When she returned to her room, Sarah Tucker, a negro servant, suspecting her design implored her to go to bed. The unfortunate woman, excited to frenzy, drew her knife and threatened to kill her if she approached. Then, by a sudden spasm of lunacy, she took the morphine and fell down o­n the bed. Dr. Plunkett was called, but when she arrived she was in a dying state. She breathed her last yesterday, at half past eight o'clock in the forenoon. When our reporter reached the house she had been dressed and laid out. The women in the vicinity had collected and paid all the respect they could to the body. They robed her in a plain black silk, with a white body, lace collar and cuffs. She looked as she lay there like an innocent young girl. She bore few or no traces of dissipation. Death seemed to have purified the remains of a guilty life.


About four weeks ago Lou Maury, alias Lou Rice, after a long career of dissipation was married to a man, James Wilks by name, and who was recently committed to jail for stealing mules. This livestock operator and declared enemy to horse insurance companies amused himself by writing letters to his "dear wife," and made numberless promises of amendment when released.

On Friday night, a man who has been moved by either shame or remorse (we do not pretend to say which) to request that we suppress his name, went to Lou. Wilks' house and conducted himself to such a manner as to cause her intense pain and distress. She had, it appears, been "sweet" on him, and had lived with him as his mistress some three years. She had supported him with her sinful gains, and had even sold her clothing to pamper his depraved appetites. He made the usual return - deserted her for another woman. On the night already mentioned he reproached her for having married Walks, and sore that, though she might cry her eyes out, he would never see her again. Having made her as miserable as possible, he left the house. In a few moments, about 12 o'clock, she had procured and swallowed the portion which terminated her wretched existence. The aid of the physician, Dr. Plunket, was called in too late. She died at half past ten yesterday morning [i.e., August 3] Her corpse was neatly laid out by her companions, put in a poplar coffin, and sent to her grave yard in a furniture car.

Nashville Republican Banner, August 4. 1867