This Cuban woman toiled as a man in the Civil War. So why has no one heard of her?





Loreta Janeta Velazquez sounded like a mythical figure: a Cuban-born woman raised in New Orleans, where she masqueraded as a male soldier and fought in the Civil War. With a fake mustache, beard, and a soldier's uniform, the Latina enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861 as Lieutenant Harry T. Buford , without her husband's knowledge.

``When I heard about Loreta, I was like, ` Why would a Cuban woman join the Confederacy? What is a Velazquez doing in 19th - century America?' " says Maria Agui Carter , a filmmaker and former producer for WGBH-TV (Channel 2).
That intrigue led Carter on a historical and personal journey into the life of this un- Southern belle.


Carter learned that Velazquez didn't just fight as a soldier in the historic battles of Bull Run and Shiloh, but posed as a spy after she was wounded during service. Velazquez chronicled her adventures as a soldier in a 600-page memoir called ``The Woman in Battle: The Civil War Narrative of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, Cuban Woman and Confederate Soldier." The book, brought back into print three years ago, features rare images of Velazquez as both a woman and a man.


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