Saturday, November 3, 2012
Published in 1876, Velazquez' account has her born in Havana, Cuba, in 1842 and then educated at least partly in New Orleans. When her first fiance signed up to fight in the Civil War, in spite of his objections, Velazquez found a couple of uniforms and enlisted as well, which was hardly difficult, if the many documented stories of women doing so are any indication. She writes about participating -- as Harry T. Buford -- in the first battle at Bull Run, the siege at Fort Donelson, and Shiloh. And more than once she was either discovered or nearly so, which will keep a woman thinking fast and moving quickly.
Velazquez claimed four husbands, all of which supposedly left her widowed, but whether she was actually legally married or not, we know for sure she gave birth to a son. And at least one newspaper article of the period refers to a soldier being discovered to be a woman with a name Velazquez was known to use on occasion. So it's not hard to believe that, if she didn't do everything she said, she did enough to claim her status as an in-your-face woman. In fact, it's probably truer than not that she did some stuff she didn't write about. In-your-face women are like that.