Lizzie Compton

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Lizzie "Jack" Compton (born c.1847) was a woman who disguised herself as a man in order to fight for the Union in the American Civil War.[1] She enlisted at the age of 14, and served in seven different regiments until the conclusion of the war.

Early life[edit]

Little is definitively known of Lizzie Compton's early life. Lizzie was discovered as being a woman seven times during the war, and each time gave different details of her life.

She claimed she was born in a rural area near Nashville, Tennessee in 1848. Her parents died when she was an infant. Lizzie was left in the care of people whom she described as, "unfeeling wretches." At an early age, she worked in the fields, and did not receive an education nor was taught the duties associated with running the household.[2] Another story she told her comrades was that she was from Canada, and would be returning home to her home in the north. Lizzie had also changed her story to claim that she was from Pennsylvania.[3]

At the age of 13, Lizzie left home dressed as a boy. She had become accustomed to dressing as the opposite sex from an early age.[2] Fortunately she was able to find a job as a deck hand on a steamboat.[2]

Civil War[edit]

Lizzie Compton was thirteen years old when the Civil War began. At the age of fourteen, she enlisted in the army, falsifying her age and changing her name.[2] Two of her known male aliases were "Jack" and "Johnny".[4]

Her first battle was the Battle of Mill Springs on January 19,1862. She also fought in the Battle of Fort Donelson, the Battle of Shiloh, and the Battle of Gettysburg.[2]

The first time she was discovered to be a woman was after accepting a dare from her comrades. They suggested she ride a horse which none of them had the courage to try. Lizzie Compton mounted the horse without a saddle. She was thrown to the ground and injured. The doctor who was treating her injury discovered she was a woman. This was the first time a doctor had discovered her secret, and she was discharged.[2]

Compton saw considerable action during the war and was wounded on two occasions. She was wounded first at the Battle of Antietam by shrapnel as part of an uphill charge at an entrenched confederate position that resulted in 9,600 Union casualties. After this injury she was mustered out of active duty, but headed west in order to rejoin the army as part of the 25th Michigan Infantry. She was subsequently shot in the shoulder in a squabble outside of Green River, Kentucky, known also as the Battle of Tebbs Bend. After recovering she returned to Green River to rejoin a regiment that was encamped there.[5]

Compton served in seven different regiments in the 18 months she was in the army. She served in the 11th Kentucky Cavalry, 21st Minnesota Infantry, the 8th, 17th, and 28th Michigan Infantry, the 79th New York Infantry, and the 3rd New York Cavalry.[2]

Later life[edit]

Lizzie Compton's postwar life remains as vague as her early life. After attempting to join a number of regiments, many of which discovered her and set her to duties at the field hospitals, she was last sighted in 1864 caring for wounded Union soldiers.[6] Her last known whereabouts were in Ontario, Canada, where she made her home. [2]

Physical Appearance[edit]

Lizzie Compton stood approximately 5 feet tall and was slight of build. She weighed 155 pounds, had light brown hair, and a fair complexion.[2] She appeared older than she was, joining the Army at just 14 with contemporaries placing her at the age of approximately 17.[7]

Lizzie was so comfortable dressing as a man, she was determined to never live a life as a woman again.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Women in the Civil War: Extraordinary Stories of Soldiers, Spies, Nurses ... - Larry G. Eggleston - Google Boeken. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Eggleston, Larry G. (2003). Women in the Civil War. Jefferson: McFarland and Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 62-64. ISBN 0-7864-1493-6. 
  3. ^ Blanton, DeAnne; Cook, Lauren, They Fought Like Demons: Women In The American Civil War. Baton Rouge, 2002. ISBN 0-8071-2806-6 pg. 35.
  4. ^ Blanton, DeAnne; Cook, Lauren, They Fought Like Demons: Women In The American Civil War. Baton Rouge, 2002. ISBN 0-8071-2806-6 pg. 115.
  5. ^ Blanton, DeAnne; Cook, Lauren, They Fought Like Demons: Women In The American Civil War. Baton Rouge, 2002. ISBN 0-8071-2806-6 pgs. 14-17.
  6. ^ Blanton, DeAnne; Cook, Lauren, They Fought Like Demons: Women In The American Civil War. Baton Rouge, 2002. ISBN 0-8071-2806-6 pgs. pgs. 115-116.
  7. ^ Blanton, DeAnne; Cook, Lauren, They Fought Like Demons: Women In The American Civil War. Baton Rouge, 2002. ISBN 0-8071-2806-6 pgs. 50-51.
  8. ^ Blanton, DeAnne; Cook, Lauren, They Fought Like Demons: Women In The American Civil War. Baton Rouge, 2002. ISBN 0-8071-2806-6 pgs. pg.57

Further reading[edit]

  • Eggleston, Larry G. Women in the Civil War: Extraordinary Stories of Soldiers, Spies, Nurses, Doctors, Crusaders, and Others. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2003. ISBN 0-786-41493-6 OCLC 51580671
  • Funkhouser, Darlene. Women of the Civil War: [Soldiers, Spies, and Nurses]. Wever, IA: Quixote Press, 2004. ISBN 1-571-66258-8 OCLC 61452250
  • Hall, Richard. Women on the Civil War Battlefront. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2006. ISBN 0-700-61437-0 OCLC 62896383
  • Middleton, Lee. Hearts of Fire--: Soldier Women of the Civil War : with an Addendum on Female Reenactors. Franklin, NC: Genealogy Pub. Service, 1993. ISBN 1-882-75500-6 OCLC 28767147

External links[edit]