029 - PTB discusses Loretta Valezquez, Spy v. Spy and Mulan
Loreta Velazquez was born in Cuba on June 26, 1842 to a wealthy family. In 1849 she moved to New Orleans for school. At age fourteen she married an office of the Texas army and when he joined the confederate army she wanted to join to. He refused so she made a uniform and join the army under the name of Harry T. Buford. She joined as lieutenant and gathered a group of soldiers under her command and took them to Florida for her husband.
His reaction to this is unknown because he was shot and killed the next day.
Velazquez decided to head North as an independent solider. She joined up with a regiment to fight at the Battle of First Manassas (Bull Run) and the Battle of Ball’s Bluff.
After this she changed back into female attired and went to Washington DC, where she began to gather intelligence for the Confederacy. She claimed to have arranged meetings with Secretary of War Simon Cameron and President Abraham Lincoln.
She then returned South and was made an official member of the detective corps. Disguised as Lieutenant Buford she went to Tennessee to join another regiment. She fought in the Battle of Fort Donelson on Feb, 11 1862. She was wounded and didn't want her gender to be discovered so she fled back to New Orleans.
While in New Orleans she was arrest for being a possible union spy but was released with a fine for impersonating a man.
Velazquez then went back Tennessee and found the regiment that she had recruited for her husband. She fought with them in the Battle of Shiloh on April 6-7, 1862. While on burial detail, she was wounded in the side by an exploding shell, and an army doctor discovered her true gender. Velazquez decided at this point to end her career as a soldier, and she returned to New Orleans.
She volunteered her services as a spy and was able to travel freely in the North and South as she donned both female and male disguises.
After the war, Velazquez married, Major Wasson, and immigrated to Venezuela. After he died, she moved back to the United States, where she traveled extensively in the West, and gave birth to a baby boy.
In 1876 Velazquez needed money to support her child and decided to publish her memoirs. The book is titled ‘he Woman in Battle: A Narrative of the Exploits, Adventures, and travels of Madame Loreta Janeta Velázquez, Otherwise Known as Lieutenant Harry T. Buford, Confederate States Army’.
The reaction to the book was mixed and Confederate General Jubal Early claimed that it was pure fiction with no proof throughout. There is still a debate today about the accuracy of the book.
Early claimed that there were several inconsistencies and some of what she claimed was impossible. He also claimed that because she didn’t use full names it was impossible to verify her claims. He interviewed Velazquez and was even more convinced after that she had lied. In May of 1878 she wrote him a letter protesting his defamation. Velazquez maintained that her story was true and that every story of the war would be different.
Also, please follow this link for more information about cross dressing and the history of it.