Rebel: Loreta Velazquez, Secret Soldier of the American Civ

Rebel: Loreta Velazquez, Secret Soldier of the American Civ

Postby admin » Thu Apr 10, 2014 10:12 pm

Rebel: Loreta Velazquez, Secret Soldier of the American Civil War -- Illustrated Screenplay
directed and written by Maria Agui Carter
© 2013 Iguana Films, LLC


[Transcribed from the movie by Tara Carreon]


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Re: Rebel: Loreta Velazquez, Secret Soldier of the American

Postby admin » Thu Apr 10, 2014 11:28 pm

[Loreta Velazquez] There is a secret
history of this war
which exists only in memory.
Reader, I will tell you my tale
as I lived it …
May my words convey
what war really is,
such that good people
will hesitate to solve anything
with war again.


Writer & Director: Maria Agui Carter

Producers: Maria Agui Carter, Calvin A. Lindsay, Jr.

Editor: Bernice Schneider

[Loreta Velazquez] There are times I forget
who I’m supposed to be.
I am compelled to sink
my sex entirely.
The least inadvertence
could be my ruin.
I must learn to act, to talk,
to almost think like a man.

[Horse neighs]

I am known as Harry T. Buford,
Confederate Soldier.
But I am not who I appear.
If my identity is revealed,
I could be tried for treason.

[Narrator] Only one photo
of Loreta Janeta Velazquez
has been identified
although it is not certain
this is her picture.
We really don’t know
what she looked like.
What we do know is that
records indicate
she was one of hundreds of women who fought
in the American Civil War.
Her memoir,
“The Woman in Battle,”
caused a sensation.


[Catherine Clinton, Women and Civil War Scholar] Growing up a young woman
in Cuba, her parents wanted her
to be educated to the dictates
of ladyhood.
That would be to learn
the fine arts of sewing,
music, dance.
She would be someone
who would be expected to be
the lady to entertain.

[Loreta Velazquez] Even as a child, I have been
disposed to rail against
the Creator for making me
a woman in a world
that favors men.
Joan of Arc, the Maid
of Orleans, was my heroine.
An example of what a woman
may do if she only dares,
and dares to do greatly.

[Indistinct conversation]

[Jesse Aleman, American and Latino Literatures Scholar] Loreta’s father idolizes her.
She is on the one hand
daddy’s little girl.
At the same time
she is constantly
testing his boundaries.

[Renee Sentilles, Gender Studies Scholar] Loreta’s father
sends her from Cuba
to New Orleans
to become a refined lady.
[Loreta Velazquez] All I understood at the time
was he was sending me away.

[Bells Ringing]

[Kirsten Silva Gruesz] When she arrived in the U.S.
in 1849, it was just
at the close of the Mexican War,
and Mexicans had been painted
as barbaric, backwards, savage
people. And that racist way
of thinking extended to most
Latinos. And this would have
been shocking for her,
because as the child of wealthy,
educated elites,
she saw herself as white.

[Loreta Velazquez] New Orleans was a new place
with new rules, but I
desperately wanted to fit in.

[Kirsten Silva Gruesz, Scholar of Early U.S. Latino Culture] When Loreta encountered
stereotypes like this,
she must have seen it
as a self-protective gesture
to pass herself off
as a dark-skinned
wealthy white person.

[Renee Sentilles, Gender Studies Scholar] White does not
mean “white” in New Orleans.
It means a paler person --
of some kind of racially
mixed background.
Americans are never quite clear
If the people who look white in
New Orleans are actually white.
You can have a really large old,
established, wealthy population
of free people of color
who are Spanish, French,
a little African,
and this is the old world
New Orleans that she’s entering.

[Whistle blows]

[Background Chatter]

[Kirsten Silva Gruesz, Scholar of Early U.S. Latino Culture] Many Spanish-speaking
people came to New Orleans
from Cuba, from the coastlines
of South America,
of Central America,
and there was a real Spanish
speaking population there.
There were newspapers;
there were cafes and clubs
and mutual aid societies.

[Loreta Velazquez] The streets bustled
with many Spanish peoples …
reminding me of home.
I lived in the Creole quarter
with my mother’s sister,
whom I called Madame R.
My aunt instructed me
on a relentless set of rules.
Everyone was determined
I should be a proper lady,
except me.

[Piano music]

It was my habit to dress myself
in my cousin’s clothes and –

[Madame R] Loreta, por Dios!
Que estas hacienda?
Tue res una senorita.
Pongase su vestido, por favor.

[Renee Sentilles, Gender Studies Scholar] She’s not getting reshaped
the way they want.

[Loreta Velazquez] I was sent to
the school conducted
by the Sisters of Charity.

[Renee Sentilles, Gender Studies Scholar] And they are raised
in very strict confines to be
refined Catholic daughters.

[Catherine Clinton, Women and Civil War Scholar] Her parents were educating
her to ladyhood
to make her more worthy
on the marriage market,
not an education to do something
in the wider world but
an ability to snag a husband.

[Loreta Velazquez] By 1856, I was no longer
a child, and my parents
were becoming anxious
that I should take my place
in society.
From Cuba, my parents arranged
that I should marry
a Spanish boy.
But I had my heart set on
an American boy --
a dashing and fair
young officer from Texas
named William.

[Renee Sentilles, Gender Studies Scholar] There’s a real fear
among white Americans,
certainly, that there are a lot
of people of color passing.
And our children will marry them
and have children with them.
But a Cuban ancestry --
Many Americans see this
as not quite white
but possibly white.
There’s a belief that
if your family’s old, it’s been
in Cuba for a long time.
It’s much more likely
that there’s a little bit
of race mixing in there,
and there’s a real effort
on the part of White Cubans
to dispel this,
to talk about pure ancestry.

[Christina Vella, U.S. and Modern European History Scholar] Loreta claims
that she descended
from an aristocratic background;
every starveling in New Orleans
claimed the same thing.
Everybody wanted to be
aristocratic, particularly
among the Spanish.
They would empty their purses
in order to have
these genealogical studies made
that would link them
to some minor nobility.

[Vicki L. Ruiz, Scholar of U.S. History and Latino Studies] There’s a whole
performance of race.
Someone could go from being
Mestizo to being Espanol
with the acquisition
of money and respect.

[Jesse Aleman, American and Latino Literatures Scholar] Loreta was a rebel
from the start.
In fact, she steals
her best friend’s boyfriend.
William is everything
that her father despises.
And here comes Loreta.
And the first person
that she falls in love with
is, in fact, an American.

[Virginia Sanchez-Korrol, Scholar of American Latinas in History] She goes against
the person that her father
had chosen for her to marry.
No self-respecting
young Spanish woman of the elite
would do such a thing.

[Loreta Velazquez] My family had strictly
forbidden our seeing one another
any longer.
On the 5th of April, 1856,
we were clandestinely married.
I expected over time
father would accept our romance,
but I was mistaken.

[Horse neighs]

We made the best of things
at William’s Military outposts.
As summers came,
I braced for the fevers,
and found myself
in constant vigilance
for the children’s safety.

[Catherine Clinton, Women and Civil War Scholar] Women had a lot to fear.
All kinds of diseases
were in much, much
higher proportion in the south
than in the North.
Childhood death was staggering.
The 19th century woman
was expected to marry
and produce a family.
That was her role in life.

[Loreta Velazquez] I entered as far as possible
into my husband’s
thoughts and wishes.
William and the children
were my entire world.
My father would have been proud.

[Photographer speaking indistinctly]

[Loreta Velazquez] In course of time, I became
a good American
in thought and manner.

[Mother and kids] Ashes, ashes
we all fall down!

[Child speaking indistinctly]

[Virginia Sanchez-Korrol, Scholar of American Latinas in History] She has two children
means that between
the age of 15,
when she’s a child herself,
to 18 when she grows
into young womanhood,
she’s already the mother
of two children,
and a third on the way.
And she loves these children.

[Loreta Velazquez] Our family was a source
of great happiness,
but that Spring my husband
was sent to dangerous
Indian territory.
I took the children
to St. Louis. I spent
the days with the children
and preparing for our new babe.
We had few callers
as we were new to the area.

Our infant came into this world
for but a brief moment.
I sought comfort in my children,
and my husband came
as soon as he heard.

[Renee Sentilles, Gender Studies Scholar] In the Fall, fever comes
to the City of St. Louis.

[Loreta Velazquez] We were not prepared
for what happened next.
No one is.

[Kids] Ring around the Rosie …
ashes, ashes
we all fall down

[Children, Loreta laughing]

[Loreta Velazquez] [Sobs]
Sometimes I would direct myself
toward the nursery
to check on the children,
It seemed against all nature
to survive one’s children.
April 5, 1861, burst with
Spring, and William and I
spent the day together quietly.
We marked our fifth anniversary
preparing for my husband’s
There had been barely
time enough to mourn,
as each week’s news indicated
that the country
was tearing apart.

[Fort Moultrie Opens Fire on Fort Sumter, At Four O’Clock Friday Morning. Maj. Anderson Returns the Fire, when the Other Forts and Batteries Engage in the Conflict.]

[Loreta Velazquez] Since the recent presidential
elections, the Northern
and Southern states had split
and everyone had been forced
to take sides.

[Renee Sentilles, Gender Studies Scholar] Lincoln is elected
without a single Southern
electoral vote.
And now the place that she calls
home has been essentially
In December, the Southern
states start to secede.


[Christina Vella, U.S. and Modern European History Scholar] Everybody in New Orleans,
though they didn’t own slaves
themselves, joined
the Confederacy,
were wholeheartedly
for the Confederacy.


[Loreta Velazquez] When William’s home state
of Texas determined to secede,
he resigned his commission
in the United States Army.


[Camera flash]

[Loreta Velazquez] It was a great grief

for him to forsake
the uniform he had worn
so long with honor.
William was appointed
to Pensacola, Florida,
to train new recruits.
I sought to convince him
that I should go, too.

[Renee Sentilles, Gender Studies Scholar She wants to be
with her husband.
She’s lost her childhood family,
she’s lost her adult family;
all she has left is William.

[Loreta Velazquez] On the 8th of April,
he headed out, and my heart
went with him.
It was not long after that
I received the dispatch.
A chill went through my spine
as I read …
there had been
a terrible accident.
I arranged for William’s funeral
and settled his affairs
numb with shock.

[Camera flashes]

[Loreta Velazquez] I was now alone in the world.

[Horse neighs]

[Bugle playing]

[DeAnne Blanton, Senior Military Archivist, National Archives] When the Civil War came
and shook up the social
structure just enough,
women came pouring out
out of their houses.
They came pouring out
of their farms
directly into the public arena
as if to say,
“We can make a difference,
We will make a difference.”

[Renee Sentilles, Gender Studies Scholar] There were many, many women
who wrote in their diaries,
“I wish I could put on
men’s clothing and go to war.”

[Elizabeth D. Leonard, Civil War Scholar] Recent scholarship
has indicated that between
500 and 1,000 women went into
military service,
some of them for very short
blocks of time and some
for two or three years,
depending on what led to
their discovery
or whether they were able to
maintain anonymity throughout.

[DeAnne Blanton, Senior Military Archivist, National Archives] There are a number
of cases of women going to war
with their husbands
or their fiancés.
And a number of girls
went to war with their brothers.

[Catherine Clinton, Women and Civil War Scholar] How could they pass
the medical inspection?
Well, reading about a medical
inspection was: you had
two feet and you could walk,
and therefore you were inducted
into the army.

[Elizabeth D. Leonard, Civil War Scholar] The Civil War armies
were very different
from our modern armies.
They lived outside
almost all the time.
Large proportions
of the soldiers were young,
which meant it wasn’t
that unusual to have a soldier
who had a higher pitched voice
or who had not yet
sprouted an obvious beard.
So women who looked like
clean-shaven or
beardless young men
found it easier to hide.
They didn’t take
their clothes off;
it helped that the uniforms
were very baggy.
In the 19th century,
notions about gender
were so clearly associated
with particular forms of dress
that if you saw someone
in pants, it simply didn’t occur
to you that that person
was anything but a man.


[Loreta Velazquez] I wake at dawn.
I force myself to bury
all thought of my old life.
I am ready to play my part
in a great drama.
It is strangely simple
to array myself
in my soldier’s uniform.
And no one thinks to stop me.

[Richard Hall, Scholar of Civil War Women Soldiers] She was sort of a freelance
soldier, and this was not
that unusual either.
Early in the war,
there were militia soldiers
in the regular army,
which was very, very small --
North and South.
The South didn’t even really
have a regular army, and
so it was not unusual for people
to come in and sort of appoint
themselves or be accepted --
sort of a volunteer officer.

[Vicki L. Ruiz, Scholar of U.S. History and Latino Studies] She donned the uniform
and became Buford.
She is passing.

[Cannon shot in distance]

[Narrator] In July 1861, Loreta would
fight in the first major battle
of the Civil War – Bull Run,
also known as Manassas.

[Rifle shots]

What she thought would be
a short skirmish
would turn into four long years
of bloody civil strife.

[Gunshots, men yelling]

[Loreta Velazquez] There was horror in battle.

[Man screams]

But I was bent upon showing
I was as good as any man.

[Elizabeth D. Leonard, Civil War Scholar] She’s not just a woman
soldier in that world,
she’s a Hispanic woman
in that white brothers’ war.

[Jesse Aleman, American and Latino Literatures Scholar] How does someone
who is Hispanic and different
right, try to assimilate,
or cross, or pass into sameness?
And what does that do?
How does it pit her
against racial others?

[Train whistle in distance]

After donning her outfit
as Buford, Loreta also
buys a slave named Bob.
And Bob always struck me
as a very important character
in this narrative.
Bob becomes part of the way
Loreta Janeta Velazquez,
Cuban woman,
passes as Harry T. Buford,
Confederate soldier.

[Vicki L. Ruiz, Scholar of U.S. History and Latino Studies] Here she is trying
to have her own,
expand her own boundaries
of the possible while enslaving
another human being.

[Loreta Velazquez] My colored boy Bob
is a better soldier
than some of the white men,
who think themselves
immensely his superiors.

[Renee Sentilles, Gender Studies Scholar] When Loreta makes him
a comrade in arms and really
to the same level as a warrior
as the white soldiers
and as herself, it’s really
fascinating what she’s doing.
She’s essentially humanizing
the slaves.

[Loreta Velazquez] He fights as well as
he knows how,
like the rest of us.
I confess that I am proud.

[Renee Sentilles, Gender Studies Scholar] You only allow citizens
who have all the full rights
of citizenship to fight.
And women and African Americans
don’t really own this country.
They’re not – they’re not
citizens in the same way.
They don’t have full rights
of citizenship.
And once you allow someone
to fight and put their life
on the line, can you deny
them those rights anymore?

[Jesse Aleman, American and Latino Literatures Scholar] For someone like
Loreta Velazquez,
you have an immigrant
trying to find a sense
of identity within this country,
and the way she does it
is by fighting for it.

[Horse neighs]

[Elizabeth D. Leonard, Civil War Scholar] This has been, certainly
in American history
a way in which people
who have been subordinated
themselves have advanced
their status
through doing the nation’s work,
whatever that work is.
And the Confederacy’s work
was defending slavery.
Ironically, it doesn’t always
mean that you get the prize
at the end.

[Indistinct chatter]

[Loreta Velazquez] I have learned much
concerning the weakness
of human nature: self-seeking
is more common that patriotism.
And in camp, a spirit of petty
jealousy is even more prevalent
than it is at a girl’s
boarding school.

[Soldier] Yes.

[Indistinct chatter]

[Bob] [accidentally kicks over a soldier’s cup]

[Soldier] Oh!

[Bob] Sorry, sir. I’m sorry …
[Loreta Velazquez] Bob, go take care
of them horses … go on.

[Bob] I didn’t mean it, sir.

[Loreta Velazquez] Go on!

[To soldier] Come on. Do I have a problem with you? [To Bob] Go on, like I told you.

[Bob] Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

There is a question about
the relationship between
Buford and Bob.

[Soldier] You better watch him.

[Loreta Velazquez] Go on, now.

[Loreta Velazquez] You better take care of him.

[Loreta Velazquez] He’s a good boy. Come on.

[Jesse Aleman, American and Latino Literatures Scholar] They fight alongside
each other. They ride together.
So if anyone is in the know
about Buford’s secret,
it would be Bob.

[Loreta Velazquez] My life depends
on his keeping my secret.

[Men singing indistinctly]

[Chapter IX. The Battle of Ball’s Bluff.
The Fight at Woodsonville.

Chapter XVII. The Battle of Shiloh.]

[Man shouts commands]

[Loreta Velazquez] Killing sends a thrill
of horror, even in war.
There is one incident
I cannot shake.
I fire my revolver at another
officer, who is in the act
of jumping into the river.
I see him spring into the air
and fall, and turn my head away,
shuddering at what I have done.

[Rifle shots]

To be a second Joan of Arc
is a girlish fancy …

[Man screams]

Which my experiences
as a soldier dissipated forever.

[Jesse Aleman, American and Latino Literatures Scholar] After the battle of Shiloh,
Buford takes a left,
Bob takes a right
and runs smack into
the middle of union forces.
He claims he gets “lost.”
He escapes and ends up in
federal territory a free man.

[Man shouting commands]

[Loreta Velazquez] I make half-hearted
enquiries but do not pursue him.
I am worn out.
The great conflict
is far from its close,
and my original enthusiasm
is long gone.
This business of war
is a fearful thing.
Would that I could stop
the slaughter, but who am I
to affect the plans of generals?

[Rifle fire]

[Soldier] [coughs]

[Loreta Velazquez] [breathing heavily]


[Loreta Velazquez] I wake to the rattle
of the tracks and pain
shooting through my body.
The sick and the wounded
surround me.
I am in imminent danger
of being discovered.
I shun medical attention,
protecting my secret.
It is now the summer of 1863,
and martial law is in force
in the capital,
Richmond, Virginia.

[Horse neighs]

The confederacy is becoming
desperate, and I realize
I will be under more
scrutiny than ever.
General Winder, the head
of our secret service,
is suspicious of everyone.

[Indistinct conversation]

[Carman Cumming, Journalist and Civil War Scholar] Yes, a very interesting
time in the Civil War,
because this is
after the Battle of Gettysburg
and after the fall of Vicksburg,
and it’s a time of great
deprivation, of course,
in the South and a time
of great angst.

[Loreta Velazquez] This is no place
for strangers.
Detectives are everywhere.
Perhaps it was a mistake
to come.

[Man] Yes.
We’re going to go upstairs.

[Loreta Velazquez] I have just begun to unpack
when a knock comes to my door.
Someone has noted
my feminine ways.

[Daily Richmond Examiner, July 2, 1863:
She was a second Joan of Arc … charged with unsexing herself …]

[Loreta Velazquez] I stand accused of disguising
my sex and serving
as a federal spy.

[Lynchburg Daily Virginian, July 4, 1863:
An investigation into the suspicious character revealed “he” was a woman …

[DeAnne Blanton, Senior Military Archivist, National Archives] Spies were at risk
of being executed. There were
spies shot during the war,
shot for treason.

[Man coughs]

[Carriage approaching]

[Carman Cumming, Journalist and Civil War Scholar] Castle Thunder was packed
with all kinds of suspects,
disloyal suspects, deserters,
and so forth and so on.
The loyalty suspects
were allowed to mingle
in a second floor
citizens’ room they called it.
And one person who wrote
about it said he could see
at least twenty other
Union spies, or Northern spies,
in the room at the same time.

[Loreta Velazquez] Each day is an eternity of
dreading what will happen next.
I must find a way out.
My fate lies in General Winder’s
hands, and I beg
for an audience with him.
He offers me a Devil’s deal
I do not trust.
But I have run out of options.

[Daily Richmond Examiner, July 11, 1863:
“Lieutenant Buford” … has been released by General Winder …]

[Loreta Velazquez] General Winder thinks
I may have some value
in his secret service corps and
decides to test my abilities.
A woman labors under
some disadvantage
in an attempt to find
her own way in the world.

[Door opens]

And at the same time,
she can often do things
that a man cannot.

[Narrator] Loreta writes little
of her motivations,
and Civil War records of spying
are difficult to verify.
What we know is that
now boundaries blurred,
loyalties were uncertain,
and deception became her trade.

[Loreta Velazquez] According to all[/img]
military law, I am now an
outlaw, and liable to be hung
if detected, the death of
a soldier even being denied me.
I am willing to take my chances.

[Carman Cumming, Journalist and Civil War Scholar] She was Laura Williams,
she was Anne Williams, she was
Alice Williams very often.
She changed her name
it seems, almost as often as
she changed her clothes.

[Richard Hall, Scholar of Civil War Women Soldiers] Women just didn’t do
this sort of thing …
or so men thought.
They would go out on
scouting expeditions,
scouting behind enemy lines,
searching out
where are the enemy troops,
what are they doing,
how well equipped are they,
how many are there.
They would report back.
Smugglers, contraband.
There was a huge smuggling
operation involving women.
Loreta did most of the above.

[Loreta Velazquez] I pass through the lines
in the North and the South,
inventing my past as needed.
Officials publicly
denounce the rebellion
while privately
profiting from their corruption.

[Confederate States of America Loan]

[Richard Hall, Scholar of Civil War Women Soldiers] She thrived economically
because she was transporting
large amounts of confederate
money around to support various
spying operations,
carrying money around
in suitcases sort of like
a modern CIA operative.

[Loreta Velazquez] With each succeeding month,
speculation seems to increase,
and men become more eager
to make money and less
particular how they make it.

[Jesse Aleman, American and Latino Literatures Scholar] Loreta begins to understand
that money seems to be
the heart of this thing
called the Civil War,
not the issues of state rights,
maybe not even the issues
of upholding slavery.

[Loreta Velazquez] After three years of service,
I deeply understand,
war corrupts
and few are innocent.

[Jesse Aleman, American and Latino Literatures Scholar] She sees the entire
underside of war,
and that is some people
profit from it grossly.
This leads to her
disillusionment with
the idea of warfare.

[Carman Cumming, Journalist and Civil War Scholar] Then she disappears
from the South.
And according to her story,
she’s crossed the lines,
come North to spy.

[DeAnne Blanton, Senior Military Archivist, National Archives] At one point,
using the alias Alice Williams,
she actually came to Baltimore
and went to work
for the Union Secret Service
as a double agent.

[Chapter XXXIV. Playing a Double Game]

[Carman Cumming, Journalist and Civil War Scholar] It appears that she works
at the Baltimore Provost
Marshal’s office, keeping watch
on spies and smugglers
and so forth.
And the records seem to
indicate that her job there was
to turn in disloyal people
or to search female suspects.
And the big question is,
was she spying on the North
or was she defecting?
The records in the North
have to do with the Baltimore
hiring of Alice Williams.
They seem to suggest that
instead of spying in the North,
she was actually defecting.

[Loreta Velazquez] I love the South
and its people with
a greater intensity than ever.
At the same time,
many of my prejudices against
the North have been proven wrong
in the 18 months
that I have spent with them.
All the dreams of four years
ago have vanished.

Jesse Aleman, American and Latino Literatures Scholar] She has no home.
No family, no nation.

[chimes clanging]


[indistinct chatter]

[Jesse Aleman, American and Latino Literatures Scholar] The Confederates lost.
They didn’t just barely lose,
they were overwhelmed;
they were decisively defeated.
And they lost their entire
social system,
their entire slave-based
social system as a result
of this war.

[Loreta Velazquez] On every side is ruin
and poverty, on every side
disgust of the present
and despair of the future.
I am haunted by the war.
It will be a decade
before I am able to make sense
of what I witnessed.

Jesse Aleman, American and Latino Literatures Scholar] In 1875, a handbill
is published and circulated
announcing “The Woman in Battle, The Greatest Civil War Book ever written.

[DeAnne Blanton, Senior Military Archivist, National Archives] The way I view Loreta’s book
is that she took her life story
and she made it a little better.

[Narrator] Loreta had spent
years reinventing herself.
Now she admitted to the world
who she was – a Cuban woman.
But the world was not ready
to hear what she had to say.

[Elizabeth D. Leonard, Civil War Scholar] Her story is not a story
that glorifies the war,
it’s a story that talks about
war as a very harsh, gory,
bloody, corrupt reality.
And she doesn’t tell the story
of the event in a way
we like to hear it.

[Catherine Clinton, Women and Civil War Scholar] She talks about
the brutality and roughness
of Confederate men --
the honored veterans.
And she’s talking about them
as being ungentlemanly,
rough, vulgar.

[Richard Hall, Scholar of Civil War Women Soldiers] People criticized it.
Social commentators
at the time thought it was
tawdry and unreal.

[Lieutenant General Jubal Anderson Early, C.S.A.] I came across Madame
Velazquez’s book,
entitled “Woman in Battle,”
and gave it
a cursory examination,
from which I was satisfied
that the writer of that book,
whether man or woman,
had never had the adventures
therein narrated.
And I have expressed the same
opinion to several presses
in the city.

[Gary Gallagher, Civil War Scholar] Jubal Early became one
of the main arbiters of how
the war would be remembered.
And he acquired a great deal
of power …
If he disagreed with something
that someone wrote
and they didn’t make the changes
that he wanted, he could be very
effective in attacking them
or having others attack them
in various print forms.

[Vicki L. Ruiz, Scholar of U.S. History and Latino Studies] How could this woman
have infiltrated his ranks?
Not only how could this woman
have infiltrated his ranks,
but how dare she write
about his troops in that manner?

[Southern Historical Society Papers.]

[Jesse Aleman, American and Latino Literatures Scholar] He himself is at the start
of an entire print culture
that is remembering
the Confederate cause
through an ideological lens,
we now know of as

“The Lost Cause.”

[Lieutenant General Jubal Anderson Early, C.S.A., Autobiographical Sketch and Narrative of the War Between the States]

[Renee Sentilles, Gender Studies Scholar] Loreta is incredibly
dangerous to the creation
of a Confederate nationalism.

[Lieutenant General Jubal Anderson Early, C.S.A.] Madame Velazquez might
have been a follower of one or
the other army in some capacity,
but the book cannot be
a truthful narrative
of the adventures
of an army person.

A female camp follower
was a laundress or a sutler,
but the subcontext of the term
“camp follower” was his way
of saying she was a prostitute.

[Loreta Velazquez] I write the general, offering
to clear up any confusions.
My appeal goes unanswered.
It has become clear to me
that General Early needs
straightening out.

[Jesse Aleman, American and Latino Literatures Scholar] They met in the foyer
of the hotel where Early lived,
in Lynchburg.
There was potentially
a significant penalty
for crossing Early
in any serious way.

[Lieutenant General Jubal Anderson Early, C.S.A.] You are no true type
of Southern woman.

[Loreta Velazquez] All –

[Lieutenant General Jubal Anderson Early, C.S.A.] I have the right
to speak my opinion,
and I will speak it,
whether the author
be a man or a woman!


[Catherine Clinton, Women and Civil War Scholar] Jubal Early was an old
soldier – glorious – and here
was this woman coming along,
making up stories.
He felt it was very easy;
she was Hispanic,
she was marginal,
she was someone who he could
easily attack and discredit,
and he did.
So effectively that I think
this label of “hoax” stuck with
her book for almost a century.

[Richard Hall, Scholar of Civil War Women Soldiers] A lot of people were
skeptical of her and didn’t
know what to make of her.
She started acquiring
a bad reputation.
She was accused of being
a prostitute or a woman of loose
morals and all sorts of things.
And so she had to live
with that.

[Jesse Aleman, American and Latino Literatures Scholar] She disappears into
obscurity. Erasure would be
the good way of putting it,
erased in history.

[DeAnne Blanton, Senior Military Archivist, National Archives] When General Early
was criticizing Velazquez
and her book and proclaiming
loudly to anyone who would
listen that she was a fraud,
one of the things
he specifically critiqued
was her time she spent
as a double agent
in Washington, D.C.
But what General Early
couldn’t have known
is that in the files
of the Provost Marshal …
there was this document:

This Alice Williams
is indeed Loreta Velazquez.
While we may not know everything
we’d like to know
about her today,
we can corroborate quite a bit
of what she writes in her book.

[The Female Lieutenant: The public will remember the numerous paragraphs published concerning one “Lieutenant Harry Buford,” nee Mrs. Williams, with a history romantic in war as that of Joan of Arc. Last summer the Lieutenant got into Castle Thunder, her sex not corresponding with the dashing uniform she wore. She was released, and went from Richmond to Chattanooga, where she joined Gen. Bragg’s army, got upon the staff of Gen. A.P. Stewart, and for a time was employed in the secret service, effecting important arrest of spies, and doing some very daring things. The other day she visited Richmond again, not as the gay Lieutenant, but in the garments more becoming her sex, and bearing the name of Jeruth DeCaulp, she having, in the interval, married an officer of the Confederate States Provisional army of …]

[The Female Lieutenant. “Lieutenant Buford,” the female Lieutenant from the South, arrested in this city, and sent to Castle Thunder, has been released by General Winder. The charge of being a Yankee spy was never alleged against her, and she is indignant that such a thing was ever insinuated. She persists in sporting her military costume, and it was this that got her into trouble with the Richmond authorities. Her real name is Mrs. S.T. Williams, and her husband is a 1st Lieutenant in Company E. 13th Connecticut regiment, under Banks, in Louisiana. Her father is Major J.B. Roche of Mississippi, but she was born in the West Indies. Her people were wealthy, and her annual income before the war was $20,000, most of which she spent in getting medicines for the Confederate Government. Her penchant was to follow the army in a private ambulance with medicines, bandages and servant, and has been known to lend a helping hand with the …]

[PERSONAL – Mrs. T.C. De Camp, better known as Lieut. H. T. Buford of the late C.S.A. is at the St. James Hotel. As Lieut. Buford, she was wounded four times during her military career. She has also been blow up by a steamboat, being the only lady passenger saved. Mrs. De Camp now appears as a lady.]

[At the opening of the late war, having donned male attire, she vaulted into the saddle of a 1st lieutenancy of a Texas cavalry company, and saw service in the first battle of Manassas. Subsequently she was transferred to the Western army and was wounded in the battle of Shiloh, in which memorable engagement she claims to have performed splendid service.]

[… It appears that she resided in this city several years ago in a house of questionable character, but managed by some defective arts, which are best known to women, to win the affections of an Arkansas planter, who married her. She soon tired of married life, however, left him, and next appeared with our army at Utah, where she became acquainted with many under the name of Mrs. Arnold. The rebellion broke out and Mrs. Arnold – Mrs. Williams was next found doing the duty of a private soldier in the battle of Manassas as a member of the 7th Louisiana regiment. She was brought into public notice again last spring just after the battle of Shiloh, having been wounded in the engagement as a member of the 11th Louisiana. On that occasion she visited this city and was arrested for appearing in male attire but on account of what was then called her patriotic conduct she was dismissed with honor.]

[Jesse Aleman, American and Latino Literatures Scholar] “The Woman in Battle,”
has never escaped
its charge of inauthenticity.
Authenticity has always been
a way of challenging narratives
that somehow challenge
the mainstream notion
of what is truth.

[Elizabeth D. Leonard, Civil War Scholar] The absolute truth
of one thing or another
in the book is not
the most important contribution
that the book makes.
It’s the presence of the book,
the fury that it provoked,
the claims that it makes,
the reality that it tries
to portray.

[Vicki L. Ruiz, Scholar of U.S. History and Latino Studies] Her willingness
to live life on her own terms,
and completely on her own terms,
is something that is exceptional
for any woman during
this period.

[Narrator] Loreta appears
in public records through 1902,
marrying again,
and embracing one final cause,
Cuban independence.
She lies in an unknown grave.
Her memoir, “The Woman in Battle,”
remains in print.

[Loreta Velazquez] What a woman may do
if only she dares,
and dares to do greatly.

Romi Dias: Loreta Velazquez (adult)
Isabel Carter: Loreta Velazquez (child)
Narrator: Llewelyn Smith
On-camera Experts: Jesse Aleman, DeAnne Blanton, Catherine Clinton, Carman Cumming, Gary Gallagher, Kirsten Silva Gruesz, Richard Hall, Elizabeth D. Leonard, Vicki L. Ruiz, Virginia Sanchez-Korrol, Renee Sentilles, Christina Vella

Additional Cast:

Beresford Bennett: Bob
Will Le Bow: Jubal A. Early
Ed Rivera: Sr. Velazquez
Sofia Rivera: Loreta’s daughter
Noah Selden: Loreta’s son
Caty Moore: Loreta’s baby
Frank Romano: Printer
Joseph Zamparelli, Jr.: Southern Gent & Conf. soldier
Mark Zagaoski: Innkeeper
Fernanda Hess: Victorian lady
Julie Dansker: Victorian girl
Jane Karol: Romi’s Riding Double
Joseph Pereira: Major Alexander
Stephen Kirpatrick: William and Cpt. Thomas DeCaulp
Living History Reenactment Advisors:
Kevin Herschberger
Joseph Pereira
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