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Wartime Cross-dressers

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Profiles

  • Sarah Melinda Blalock (c.1840 - 1901)
    Sarah Pritchard cut her hair and donned men's clothes to joined the 26th infantry of the Confederate Army with her husband Keith. She was registered as a Samuel 'Sammy' Blalock, supposedly her husban...
  • Jeanne d'Arc, La Pucelle d'Orléans (1412 - 1431)
    Patent: The Lord of Féron; filed a petition in October 1550 along with his uncle Robert Le Fournier, to confirm the transmission of nobility through the female line, which had been allowed under the pr...
  • Pvt. Deborah Sampson (Continental Army) (1760 - bef.1827)
    Deborah Samson Gannett (December 17, 1760 - April 27, 1827), better known as Deborah Sampson, was an American woman who impersonated a man in order to serve in the Continental Army during the America...
  • Sarah Rosetta Wakeman [alias, Pvt. Lyons Wakeman (USA)] (1843 - 1864)
    Sarah Rosetta Wakeman (January 16, 1843–June 19, 1864) was an American woman who posed as a man and fought in the American Civil War. Born in New York, she was the eldest child of Harvey and Emily Wa...
  • Sarah Emma Seelye (1841 - 1898)
    Sarah Emma Edmonds was a Canadian-born woman who is known for serving with the Union Army during the American Civil War. Sarah Emma Edmonds was born in Magaguadavic, New Brunswick, Canada but left ...

Wartime Cross-dressers

Many people have engaged in cross-dressing during wartime under various circumstances and for various motives. This has been especially true of women, whether while serving as a soldier in otherwise all-male armies, while protecting themselves or disguising their identity in dangerous circumstances, or for other purposes. Conversely, men would dress as women to avoid being drafted, the mythological precedent for this being Achilles hiding at the court of Lycomedes dressed as a girl to avoid participation in the Trojan War.

In the photograph on the right: Hannah Snell (1723–1792) a British woman who disguised herself as a man and became a soldier.

For imposters see the Geni project Imposters

Early Middle Ages

  • Hua Mulan was, according to a famous Chinese poem, a woman who joined the Chinese army in her father's stead.
  • Saint Theodora of the Vasta village, in Arcadia of Peloponnesus, was a woman who joined the imperial army of Romania in her father's stead, during the early 10th c.
  • Matilda of Canossa (1046-1115), the valiant Grand Countess that personally lead her armies to battle.

Fourteenth century

  • Jeanne de Clisson (1300–1359), nicknamed the "Lioness of Brittany", was a privateer who plied the English Channel sinking French ships from 1343 to 1356.[1]
  • Joanna of Flanders (c. 1295–1374) led the Montfortist faction in Brittany in the 1340s after the capture of her husband left her as the titular head of the family. She wore male dress at engagements such as the siege of Hennebont.

Fifteenth century

  • Joan of Arc enters Orléans (painting by J.J. Sherer, 1887)
  • Onorata Rodiani (1403–1452) was an Italian mercenary who served as a cavalry soldier, disguised in male clothing and with a male name, under a condottieri (freelance commander) named Oldrado Lampugnano beginning in 1423.
  • Jacqueline of Wittelsbach, Countess of Hainaut, Holland and Zeeland (1401–1436) led the Hoek faction (the aristocratic faction) in Holland. Jacqueline and one of her servants disguised themselves as soldiers to escape confinement in Ghent.[2]
  • Joan of Arc (1412–1431) is a folk heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in what is now eastern France who claimed divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War. After being captured by her enemies, she was burned at the stake for heresy when she was 19 years old.
  • Maroula Comnena, daughter of Isidore and Euphrosyne (1460–). Dressed up with a cuirass on May the 21st of 1478, she fights valiantly and thus boosts the spirit for resistance against the Ottomans of Suleiman Pasha besieging the Kotinos or Kotinas castle on the island of Lemnos, and for this service is appraised and rewarded by the Venetian authorities.

Sixteenth century

  • Brita Olofsdotter, widow of soldier Nils Simonsson, served in the Finnish unit in the Swedish cavalry in Livonia. She was killed in battle, and King John III of Sweden ordered her salary to be paid to her family.

Seventeenth century

  • Catalina de Erauso (1592–1650), the Nun Lieutenant, was a semilegendary Spanish adventurer.
  • Christian Davies (1667-1739), "Mother Ross", served in the 4th Royal North British Dragoons.

Eighteenth century

  • Bonnie Prince Charlie (1720–1788) dressed as Flora MacDonald's maid servant, Betty Burke, to escape the Battle of Culloden for the island of Skye in 1746.[4]
  • Deborah Sampson (1760–1827) of Massachusetts was the first known American woman who disguised herself as a man to enlist as an infantry soldier. She served in the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War.
  • Joanna Żubr (1770–1852) was a Polish soldier of the Napoleonic Wars and the first woman to receive the Virtuti Militari, the highest Polish military order.
  • Hannah Snell (1723–1792) was an Englishwoman who entered military service under the name "James Gray", initially for the purpose of searching for her missing husband. She served in General Guise's regiment in the army of the Duke of Northumberland, and then in the marines.
  • Ulrika Eleonora Stålhammar (1688–1733) was a Swedish female soldier and crossdresser during the Great Northern War.
  • Chevalier d'Eon (1728–1810) fought with the French dragoons during the Seven Years' War. In 1775, d'Eon revealed that he was a woman and lived as such for the rest of her life. When she died in London in 1810, she was examined by physicians and discovered to be anatomically male.
  • Phoebe Hessel (1713-1821) enlisted in the British Army's 5th Regiment of Foot. She fought in the Battle of Fontenoy and was wounded in action.

Nineteenth century

  • Albert D. J. Cashier (1843–1915), born Jennie Irene Hodgers, was an Irish-born woman served in the Union Army during the American Civil War as a male soldier.
  • Jane Dieulafoy (1851–1916) was a French woman who, when her husband enlisted during the Franco-Prussian War, dressed as a man and fought alongside him.
  • Nadezhda Durova (1783–1866) was a decorated Russian cavalry soldier of the Napoleonic Wars who spent nine years disguised as a man.
  • Eleonore Prochaska (1785–1813) was a German woman soldier who fought in the Lützow Free Corps during the War of the Sixth Coalition.
  • Friederike Krüger (1789–1848) was a soldier in the Prussian army.
  • James Barry (c. 1792-1795 – 25 July 1865) was a military surgeon in the British Army who is widely believed to have been born female and named Margaret Ann Bulkley.
  • Anna Lühring (1796–1866) (sometimes wrongly referred to as Anna Lührmann) was a German soldier in the Lützow Free Corps during the Napoleonic Wars.
  • Nathaniel Lyon (1818-1861) General for the Union during the American Civil War, allegedly dressed as a woman to spy on an enemy encampment.
  • Mária Lebstück (1831–1892) was a Hussar officer during the Hungarian War of Independence of 1848 and 1849 under the name Károly Lebstück.
  • Sarah Emma Edmonds (1841–1898) served with the Union Army in the American Civil War disguised as a man named Frank Thompson.
  • Mollie Bean, Mary and Molly Bell served with the Confederate Army in the American Civil War under the alias Melvin Bean.
  • Cathay Williams (1844–1892) was a former slave who became the first recorded African-American woman in the U.S. Army.
  • Loreta Janeta Velazquez a.k.a. "Lieutenant Harry Buford" (June 26, 1842- c.1897) - A Cuban woman who donned Confederate garb and served as a Confederate officer and spy during the war

Twentieth century

  • Wanda Gertz (1896–1958) joined the Polish Legion in World War I to fight on the Eastern Front while posing as "Kazimierz Zuchowicz". Later she joined the Women's Voluntary Legion, and during World War II she commanded an all-woman sabotage unit of the Home Army.
  • Dorothy Lawrence (1896–1964) was a British reporter who served as a man in the army during World War I.
  • Zoya Smirnow (1897/98-after 1916) was a Russian schoolgirl who along with 11 other friends ran away from their Moscow school and disguised themselves as men and joined the Russian army where they fought in Galicia and the Carpathians during World War I. After a death and number of injuries in the group, Smirnow's sex was discovered. She recounted their story to the English press.
  • Frieda Belinfante (1904-1995) was a prominent musician and World War II Dutch Resistance fighter who disguised herself as a man for 6 months to avoid capture by the Gestapo.
  • Henk Jonker (1912-2002) was a member of the Dutch resistance who disguised himself as a woman.
  • Truus Menger-Oversteegen, was als man verkleed zodat ze zich bij onraad als verliefd stelletje konden voordoen, samen met Hannie Schaft
  • Ehud Barak (b. 1942), the later prime minister of Israel, disguised himself as a woman to assassinate members of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Beirut during the 1973 covert mission Operation Spring of Youth.