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Not Everyone Was Who They Claimed to Be

Soldiers were not always who they said they were

Often Civil War soldiers operated under assumed names for various reasons. Women were known to have enlisted under men’s names including Sarah Wakeman (153rd NY State Volunteers) who enlisted as Lyons Wakeman and Francis Clayton (Missouri Cavalry) who served under the name of Jack Williams.

Women who were good at chewing tobacco and cussing were particularly difficult to distinguish when they bound their breasts and kept their hair short. Sometimes their gender would only be found out if they were captured, wounded or killed.

The most unusual of the women “pretenders” was the soldier who was captured aboard a ship and transferred to Andersonville Prison in Georgia. There the Union soldier, who turned out to be Janie Hunt, delivered a baby.

Tigle W. Dennis of the 30th U.S.Colored Troops has an interesting service file. His record says at various times he went under the names of Isaiah Dennis, Isaiah Douglas, Isaiah Barker, and Tigle W. Barker. The record goes on to say he is the brother of Tigle W. Barker of his same Union company. His intent was not listed.

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