Uncommon Soldier: the Civil War Letters of Sarah Rosetta Wakeman is a compilation of letters from one of the little known 400 women who decided to defy society and dress like men in order to enlist to fight in the Civil War. Sarah Wakeman was the first of nine children who left home at the age of 19 to find work. In 1862 Sarah Rosetta Wakeman took the Lyons Wakeman and joined up with the 153rd New York State Volunteers. Over the course of the book she seems to care little for the motives for the war and more about how the family farm was progressing.
Sarah Wakeman was stationed with her regiment in Alexandria, Virginia for most of the war where she was given the job of protecting the exterior of Washington D.C. Even though Sarah Wakeman and her regiment did not she battle in Washington she still stressed that she could “drill just as well as any man there is in my regiment.”(p.32) Wakeman and her regiment were reassigned to fight in Red River campaign. During which she wrote home to her parents that she “don’t never expect to see you again in this world.”(p.47) However, she participated in two interactions with the enemy both of which she survived. Towards the end of the Red River campaign Sarah Wakeman came down with chronic diarrhea from which she was diagnosed with dysentery. From which she eventually died.
Lauren Burgess has taken these letters and standardizes the spelling and corrected punctuation only when necessary to better understand the intention of the original writer. She has also included a good deal of supplemental information to the book to help the reader better understand the letters. This book gives the reader a deeper insight into a part of history that seldom thought of or written about. The fact that woman at the time dared to take up arms in defense of the country even with the stigma that would have been attached to them had they been caught. Even the military did not know that Lyon Wakeman was really Sarah Wakeman till the discovery...
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