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Melani Origins: Women in the old time Navies and Armies (43) RE: Origins: Women in the old time Navies and Armi 21 Dec 06

Re: Civil War medical exams: My friend "George" and I are cross-dressing female reenactors with theNorfolk Light Artillery Blues. At a reenactment last summer, George and the captain's 14-year-old son were recruited to take part in a pre-enlistment medical exam for the public. It went like this:

Doc: "What's your name?"


"Good, you can hear. How many fingers?" (holding up hand)


"Good, you can see. Got four teeth in front? (George grins) Good. (taps back) Good, no consumption. Got your thumbs? Good. (to the captain's son) How old are you?"


(Doc writes the number 16 on a piece of paper and drops it on the ground) "Stand on this. Now, are you over 16?"


"Now," Doc says to the audience, "can anybody see any difference between these two soldiers?" After a long hestiation, somebody says, "Well, one's a girl." "Right," says Doc. "But did I do anything that would have proven that?"

He then said that when a Civil War cemetary was relocated a few years ago, when they dug up the bodies, they found that about 1800 of them were women, and that there is speculation that there may have been as many as 5,000 women in uniform in that war.

I think the deception may have been based largely on expectations--women were expected to wear skirts, therefore anybody wearing pants was a man. There was a woman named Francis Clalin who in civilian clothes looked rather like Abraham Lincoln in drag, but in uniform resembles on of our female Park rangers, who no one would ever mistake for a man--in other words, in uniform, Francis Clalin appears to modern eyes like a perfectly normal woman in pants.

If you follow the NLAB link above, enlarge the picture and see if you can spot the women--there are several. George and I, by the way, are not in that picture.

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