Florena Budwin (born circa 1844, died January 25, 1865) was an alleged Union Army soldier of an unidentified Pennsylvania Battery from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania who enlisted with her husband, who was a artillery captain in the Civil War in order to stay with him and died of complications of pneumonia. She was buried in Florence National Cemetery, the first woman soldier to be afforded that honor.
In sometime after February 1864, she was captured and confined at the Confederacy's most notoriously brutal prisoner of war concentration camp, Andersonville shortly after it was created. Some reports state that her husband died at Andersonville by a prison guard. However, Budwin herself stated that her husband died in battle, after which she was captured. A soldier who saw her there (Samuel Elliott, 7th Penna. Reserves) described her as "a woman rather above the medium height, sunburnt, with long, unkempt hair. Her clothing consisted of a rough gray shirt, a pair of worn-out army trousers, and what was once a military cap." She remained at Andersonville until it was threatened by Union forces, and was then transferred to the Florence Stockade in Florence, South Carolina in the fall. There, she attended to sick prisoners until she herself became ill with pneumonia in the winter; when Dr. Josephus Hall gave her medical attention he discovered her sex, after which Budwin was given special treatment, including donations of food, clothing from local women, and her own room. However, she died shortly thereafter at the age of 20 on January 25, 1865, less than a month before sick Union prisoners of war were released by the Confederacy. Budwin's decision to keep her sex a secret during her prison time likely cost her life and her reasons for doing so are unknown. In fact, little is known about her military service except for her prisonment time. Florena Budwin may not even be her real name.
An estimated 16,000 Union prisoners were held captive in the Florence Prison Stockade between September 1864 and February 1865. In that short period of time, 2,322 prisoners died from malnutrition and disease. The owner of a plantation adjacent to the prison allowed the dead to be buried in trenches on his property. This area was later established as the Florence National Cemetery. A plain marble headstone there bears Florena's name and the date of her death. She is believed to be the first woman to be buried in a national cemetery.
- Hall, Richard H. (2006). Women on the Civil War Battlefront. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. p. 148. ISBN 0700614370.
- Eggleston, Larry G. (2003). Women in the Civil War. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, Inc. pp. 9–10. ISBN 0-7864-1493-6.
- Blanton, DeAnne (2002). Women Soldiers in the American Civil War: They Fought like Demons. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press. p. 79. ISBN 0807128066.
- "The Grave of a Heroine," The Helena Independent June 24, 1890, page 3, column 1
- Blanton, DeAnne (2002). Women Soldiers in the American Civil War: They Fought like Demons. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press. p. 80. ISBN 0807128066.
- Florena Budwin at Find a Grave
- Sifakis. Who Was Who in the Civil War, page 86
- Blakey, Arch Fredric. General John Windor, C.S.A, page 4
- Detailed and referenced site listing Florena Budwin and many other women who served in the American Civil War
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