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Pvt. Lyons Wakeman of the Union Army

We are taught about Civil War politicians and generals, dates and places, but the war was full of everyday people who did extraordinary things. The podcast Uncivil has stories of the Civil War that you won't hear in school and how they came to light, often using the descendants of the subjects to tell them. We also learn how those events left effects that are still felt today. For example, in the episode The Soldiers, Lauren Cook Wike sued for the right to participate in Civil War reenactments as a soldier, after being denied in 1989 because there were no women who fought in the war.  

CK: Lauren’s lawsuit against the National Park Service got a bunch of press coverage. And the story ended up reaching a woman who lived hundreds of miles away.

RG: I was living in Orlando at the time and I always read the newspaper in the morning: The Orlando Sentinel. And I picked it up one morning, and there was a picture of this girl in her civil war uniform.

CK: This is Ruth Goodier. And she was about to give Lauren some serious ammunition in her crusade.

Because that picture in the paper reminded Ruth of one she’d seen before in a family photo album. A photo of her distant uncle Lyons Wakeman who fought for the North in the Civil War. When Ruth was in her thirties, she found out that Lyons had a secret, hidden away in a box of letters in her cousin’s attic.

RG: It had been there ever since the end of the Civil War. Yeah.

JH: And for the longest time, the family felt uncomfortable about these letters -- they knew that Lyons Wakeman’s real name wasn’t Lyons, it was Rosetta. And he was born a woman.

Lyons Wakeman died of illness while serving in the Union Army. A bit of research led to other stories of women who fought. You can listen or read those stories here. But once you listen, you'll want to check out other episode of Uncivil. You can also read the story behind the podcast series. -via Metafilter


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