Women in the Military

Women have been fighting as soldiers a lot longer than most people think. I would like to share with you my article about the women who fought during the U.S. Civil War. Yes, women have been in combat since the mid-1800s! As an author of several acclaimed Civil War romances, I have had an interest in that time period for many years. I hope you will come to my website, http://www.dianewylie.com to check out some excerpts and book trailers.

Without further ado, here is “She Was a Soldier Too.”

~Diane Wylie

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She Was A Soldier Too

By Diane Wylie

Author of Secrets and Sacrifices, Jenny’s Passion, and Lila’s Vow

“I am a soldier too.”

You may remember those poignant words spoken by Jessica Lynch of the U.S. Army’s 507th Maintenance Company when her rescuers came to get her from the Iraqi hospital where she was being held prisoner during the early days of the Iraq War.

While women today can openly enlist in the military, women in American history had no such freedom. Some women were allowed to serve as nurses or camp followers, or sometimes they acted as spies. In fact, during the U.S. Civil War, women like Belle Boyd and Rose Greenhow became household names due to their daring exploits spying for their chosen armies. Lesser known in our history is the role of a woman as a fighting soldier.

Many people today never realized that nineteenth century women from both sides of the Civil War put aside their wide skirts and bonnets, cut their hair, donned trousers, and passed themselves off as men.

But, how could a woman sneak into the army in 1861? The answer to that question and many more are explained in Elizabeth D. Leonard’s fascinating book called All the Daring of the Soldier-Women of the Civil War Armies.

In her book, Leonard claims that “probably somewhere between five hundred and a thousand women, who disguised themselves as men, enlisted as full-fledged soldiers during the Civil War.” Ms. Leonard continues to cite well-documented cases, complete with names like Sara Edmonds, Rosetta Wakeman, and Jennie Hodgers, who became Yankees, and Anna Clark and Malinda Blalock, who became Rebels.

There were many reasons women enlisted in both armies, knowing they would be marching off to war. Like the men, some women felt called to service by patriotic duty, some to escape their dreary lives, and some to earn a much-needed paycheck. But, unlike the men, some women enlisted to follow their loved one, unable to bear the idea that he should be gone from her side.

Whether true story or fictional, the story of a female soldier during the Civil War captures the imagination. The image of the Southern woman of the time has been established for many by the book and movie, Gone With the Wind. The idea that Scarlett O’Hara would have dressed in a man’s clothing to march off to war is inconceivable! However, many Southern women did just that. In Secrets and Sacrifices, Charlotte “Charlie” Garrett, follows her husband into the Confederate army and becomes a crack sharpshooter for the Twenty-Fifth Virginia infantry.

To understand how women could enlist during the, mid-nineteenth century, military life must be taken into consideration. So great was the need for recruits on both sides, that a physical examination, if performed at all, was very perfunctory. Sometimes the exam was nothing more than demonstrating the presence of a trigger finger or opening one’s mouth to show teeth strong enough to tear open a powder cartridge.

When a female enlisted, some may wonder, wouldn’t she be noticed right off, short hair or not? Certainly, women were generally smaller in stature, had more highly pitched voices, and were quite beardless. But, there were so many young men and boys signing up, some as young as fifteen, that one more smooth-skinned, small boy would not attract undue notice. Because of the way people dressed during that time period, the mentality of the day was, “if it wore pants, it was male.”

If this lady could make it past the enlistment process, what about the physical demands on a soldier? Since army recruits of the time came from all walks of life, a male clerk struggling to handle his gear would draw no more attention than the young “boy” doing the same. Like the male recruits, these women learned to carry forty to fifty pounds of gear—gun, bayonet, scabbard, ammunition, blanket, canteen, cooking implements, rations, clothing, etc. One can only imagine how many troops had sore muscles, male or female.

Then there was the question about personal hygiene and bodily needs. Camp life for both Confederate and Union troops was not terribly restrictive, thus enabling a woman to take care of her needs by just walking off into the trees and brush, away from prying eyes as Charlotte had to do.

In addition, the uniforms of the day were loose fitting to accommodate many different body types…and she, like all other soldiers, would normally only receive one. Therefore, soldiers of the time rarely changed their clothing. While smelly, another problem for the lady soldier was solved.

Then there was the strictly feminine issue of a young woman’s monthly cycle. In her book, Leonard puts forth the argument that many women soldiers probably became lean and athletic from the long arduous marches and simply stopped menstruating. Or she might have managed to dispose of the evidence of her menstrual periods by burying it or sneaking it in with the similar-looking cloth from the hospital tents.

With all of these ways to escape detection, did the women get caught? Some female soldiers were discovered . The most obvious end to some military careers came when the woman was wounded during battle. In some cases, however, a female soldier gave herself away by an inadvertent act such as her “unmasculine manner of putting on her shoes and stockings.” Charlotte, of Secrets and Sacrifices, had to learn to spit and burp as the men around her to try and blend in. One woman gave herself away by displaying proper table manners! Nevertheless, some female soldiers wanted so badly to remain in the army that, upon being put out of one regiment, she would simply assume a new name and reenlist in another.

But some women were never detected. One lady, who called herself, “Otto Schaffer,” survived the war and lived out the rest of her life as a man. She spent most of her days living as a hermit. The Chicago Times-Herald published the story of “Schaffer,” the war veteran’s death when a bolt of lightning destroyed “his” cabin. It was the coroner who discovered the old soldier’s secret, and “his” identity as a woman was revealed at last.

One cannot help but admire the gumption of these women who, like Charlotte, simply wanted to be with her husband, and the others, who chose to fight for what they believed in, like Jessica Lynch. The brave ladies of the Civil War, and those who continue to fight today, deserve to be remembered and recognized for their sacrifices.


Leonard, Elizabeth D. All the Daring of the Soldier-Women of the Civil War Armies, New York, NY, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1999.

Wylie, Diane. Secret and Sacrifices. Ladsen, SC: Vinspire Publishing, 2006.


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Vinspire Publishing


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Facebook Party, Sunday, July 5th from 7 to 7:30 pm to Celebrate MAGIC AT THE ROXY

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It’s finally here, the release of the third and final installment in the series, Mark of the Magician. MAGIC AT THE ROXY has been released! To celebrate, I am having a Facebook party on Sunday evening at 7 pm on July 5th. Here is the link to the location: Diane Wylie’s Author Page.

Prizes will include three pieces of costume jewelry: a heart-shaped locket, a gold oval-shaped locket, and a pair of Triquetra Celtic knot earrings.


To win, you must be present to post Facebook comments between 7:00 and 7:30 pm on the night of the contest.

Also up for grabs are some paperback books by yours truly.

I hope you’ll joins us for the fun!

Blurb for Magic at the Roxy

Celeste Macallister is not having a good year. She’s been jilted at the altar and laid off from her job. The one, slightly tarnished, bright spot is the old art deco theater in Scotland, The Roxy, left to her by her Aunt Nora. On the advice of her old friend, Harry Cameron, she decides to hire Matthew Stewart, the famous stage magician, to keep the theater alive. It’s a good idea…at first.

Harry, who was once a magician himself, gives Matt a treasure that’s been hidden in the Roxy’s attic for many years. An amulet long rumored to have magical abilities, the Triquetra piques the interest of both men, and Matt makes the colossal mistake of testing the amulet’s magic.

One minute she’s in the 21st century, and the next, Celeste finds herself in a time when The Roxy is new, Harry Cameron is young, and Nazi bombs are raining down on Scotland. It doesn’t take her long to figure out it’s all Matthew Stewart’s fault. To think, she was really beginning to like the man…

Links to Magic at the Roxy:

Amazon Kindle Magic at the Roxy

B&N Nook Magic at the Roxy


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Technical Writer by Day, Romance Writer by Night — Diane Wylie


I am a technical writer and an author. Sometimes I get asked, “How can you write manuals for scientific instruments AND romance novels? Don’t they use two different parts of the brain? Aren’t we all either left-brained or right-brained?”

I would imagine these two vastly different types of writing do use different parts of the brain, but you’d have to ask Amy Farrah Fowler (of the Big Bang Theory) to see if she’s done any work on this. All I know is that I am capable of producing both types of documents and have done a pretty good job with both. I’ve won awards from the Society for Technical Communication for three of my technical works, and I’ve won awards from Coffee Time Romance and Fallen Angels reviews for my romance novel, Lila’s Vow. I have known other romance authors who are also technical writers, so we are living proof that it can be done.

What kinds of skills translate to fiction and non-fiction? That’s easy, first off, the knowledge of grammar, punctuation, and sentence construction are common to any type of writing that you can imagine.

Secondly, the ability to do research comes in very handy with both types of writing. I write historical romances that are heavy on the research aspect. I’ve learned all kinds of things about the U.S. Civil War for my novels Secrets and Sacrifices, Jenny’s Passion, Lila’s Vow, and Adam’s Treasure. I’ve also learned about thermal analysis and rheology, which are both material science fields, so that I could write the manuals for analytical instruments that serve those fields.

Third, you need to have the ability to write in an organized fashion for any type of writing, even writing this blog article. Like they taught us in school, every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The same applies to technical writing, you need an introduction, explanation of parts or equipment, instructions on how to operate the system, and wrap it up with any final conclusions or comments.

Of course, I have over-simplified the whole process for writing these documents. As anyone who has confronted a blank page knows, it takes time and real effort to get the words down so that they make sense, flow nicely, and hold the interest of the reader. This is true whether your audience is a PhD chemist or your friend’s retired grandmother (who, by the way, could still be a PhD chemist).

Now to the last issue–left-brained or right-brained. This is actually about which side is more dominant. The left side of our brains are associated with logical, organized thinking, and the right side is associated with expressive and creative thinking. Lots of online tests are available for you to take, but keep in mind, they are usually not very scientific. Here’s one link: https://www.blogthings.com/areyourightorleftbrainedquiz/. So, how have I done on these tests? The results seem to be all over the place, depending on the test, but for the most part, neither side of my brain seems to be dominant. In other words, I use both sides almost equally. So…is that good or bad? Hmmm…

Novels by Diane Wylie:

Secrets and Sacrifices

Jenny’s Passion

Lila’s Vow

Adam’s Treasure

Moonlight and Illusions

Magic of the Pentacle

Outlaw Lover

For more information about Diane and her work: http://www.dianewylie.com

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Upcoming Discussion on Women Writing About Women

Diane's books

Mark your calendars for Sunday, March 15, 2015 to join me at the Aberdeen branch of the Harford County, MD Library for a panel discussion on Women Writing [About] Women. I’ll be there from 2:00 to 3:30 pm. After the discussion, I will have my books on sale. I hope you can make it! I would hate to face a bunch of empty chairs!!!



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Mayans and Magic

Today I’d like to talk about the Maya and my most recent release, MOONLIGHT AND ILLUSIONS, a paranormal romance.

The Mayan civilization captured the attention of some folks recently with the “end-of-the-world” predictions caused by the ancient Mayan calendar. You can believe the doomsday criers or not, but the fact that the Maya were pretty smart cookies is something that most archaeologists do agree upon. The Maya were interested in mathematics and astronomy and various other disciplines. They closely observed the earth’s seasonal cycles and the phases of the moon, recorded eclipses, and even tracked the plant Venus as it moved across the sky.

Mayan Palace of the Masks


Yes, the Maya were pretty smart, but what if they knew even more than we can reliably document? What if they also had the power to control events around them? Now, I am not saying they did have that kind of power, but as an author of fictional works, one of the things I ask myself, especially when writing a paranormal, is the question, “What if?”

What if the ancient Mayan symbols (http://www.ancient-symbols.com/mayan_symbols.html) were more than just interesting designs? Each symbol has a name, such as the Way, which also means the Companion Spirit. What if this symbol had the power to direct you to your own companion spirit? You know…the person you were meant to be with. With this came the germ of an idea that led to my book, MOONLIGHT AND ILLUSIONS.

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Taking this a step further, what if a Mayan symbol could give a person power…real power? Well, who would want this type of power? A magician would. If he had the power to move things with his mind, he could become rich and famous. I had the hero for my book! In the 19th century, Stephen Elliott, The Illusionist, is given an ancient Mayan stone carved with the symbol for Companion Spirit and told it would bring luck, but he has to keep it out of the moonlight. But, of course, he doesn’t listen…isn’t that just like a man?

The moment the Companion Spirit is exposed to the moonlight, Stephen is a changed man, a powerful man, a REAL magician. But with this power comes immortality, a never-ending existence called “athanasia.” Riches are his, but so is loneliness. Everyone around him ages and dies, but he lives on. The power belongs to The Illusionist and it is accompanied by an overwhelming, physical need for the moonlight.

As the world gets caught up in World War II, no one wants to be entertained by a magician. Everyone’s mind is on the war. Stephen is no longer in demand. He is broke, alone, and doomed to walk the earth forever dependent on the Companion Spirit and the moonlight until another person, a woman, is accidentally cursed by Stephen’s ancient Mayan stone. Can they find the answers they seek or is an endless existence theirs forever?

Here is an excerpt from MOONLIGHT AND ILLUSIONS.


 On stage, the magician prepared for his final act. “Ladies and Gentleman, I am sure you have all heard of The Great Harry Houdini and his amazing escape tricks.” He rolled up his shirt sleeves and faced the audience, standing with his feet planted wide. “Tonight I will attempt a trick Mr. Houdini did, with a little wrinkle.”

“I will be placed in a strait jacket, just like Harry Houdini.” Two men came up and began strapping him in and buckling the straps behind his back. “Then hanging from my ankles, I will be lowered into this box.” Several workmen entered from stage right pushing a huge glass box.

“The box will be flooded with water,” he continued. “I will attempt to escape before drowning, and before the rope attached to a blade above the box burns through.”

The crowd tittered with excitement. Ropes were wrapped around the magician’s ankles and the assistants, in full view of the audience, hauled on the ropes and pulleys to pull the tall man upside down. They maneuvered the box under him then lowered the man head first into it.

Anabel’s heart pounded even harder when she saw them secure a second rope holding a two foot-wide curved blade over the box. One of them lit a kerosene lamp near a taut section of the rope supporting the blade. Water from a hose started rumbling into the glass box, covering the magician’s head first.

She held her breath as he began moving. The spotlight shimmered on the wicked blade suspended directly above his feet. The water climbed to his waist.

Anabel watched, fidgeting in her seat. The urge to run on stage, grab the axe from the waiting aide’s hands, and free the man was almost unbearable. Her gaze darted from his calm face to the burning rope and back.

With an audible “pwang” one rope strand broke. The deadly blade vibrated. Anabel wiped her perspiring hands on her skirt. The magician wiggled and squirmed until the strait jacket came off and his arms fell free. Bubbles rose through the water. His long dark hair undulated as he lifted his upper body to work on the ropes securing his feet.

The smell of burning hemp filled the theater. Stephen freed his feet and pushed up to the surface of the water, but before he could climb out another strand of rope gave way. The rope broke. People screamed.

Anabel jumped to her feet.

“Where are you going?” Julie whispered and made a grab for her hand, but she pulled free.

“I-I have to help—” In the back of her mind, some semblance of propriety made her hesitate, but she ignored it, climbing over the people in her row in an effort to reach him.

When she made it to the aisle, she saw him, still in the water, stretching both hands over his head. The blade had stopped in mid-descent, just a foot from the magician’s upturned palms. She froze, open-mouthed in shock. A woman softly wept somewhere and others murmured as they all watched.

The Illusionist forced the heavy steel blade higher without touching it. Using one hand to control the blade, he climbed out of the tank and down a ladder until he stood on the stage again. Water streamed down his now-transparent white shirt and clinging trousers to pool at his feet. Visible now was the silver pocket watchcase hanging from the chain around his neck. Confirmation! It is Stephen Elliott!

Now, with both hands, he guided the blade down until it floated above a pumpkin placed on the floor.

“Release!” He dropped his arms to his sides. The blade dropped immediately, severed the pumpkin in two, and impaled itself in the wooden floor with an audible thud.

When he faced the audience, their gazes met. A huge, dazzling smile creased his handsome face. Maybe the former soldier recognized her? He made a sweeping bow.

“This concludes the show tonight. I want to thank you all for coming out. A special thank you to the young lady in the aisle who wanted to come to my rescue.”

Oh, Lord! Heat rushed to her face when Anabel realized she still stood alone in the middle of the aisle. Mortified, she scurried back to her seat. Laughter broke out all around then a thunderous round of applause.

Over all the noise, she still heard the magician’s final words before the curtain fell.

“Anabel, please come see me.”


You can find MOONLIGHT AND ILLUSIONS at the following locations:

Amazon Kindle


Amazon print


B&Nook and print




Have a great day!

~Diane Wylie


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Who are the better writers–men or women?


Grammarly conducted a study with 3,000+ participants to settle an existential question that has been plaguing mankind for centuries: “Which gender has the better writers?”

Here is their answer to this quesion. Do you agree or disagree?

Go to this link for more information:   http://www.grammarly.com/grammarcheck.

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Summer Boredom for Baby-Boomer Kids

Maybe other Baby-Boomers can relate to this more than the younger folks, but I remember being so bored when I was a kid. Maybe we had more time on our hands because we didn’t have the money to go to summer camp or have a pool membership, but it seems to me I was bored quite a bit.

I loved to read, even as a kid, but again, money was in short supply. (Don’t ask me why we didn’t go to the library, I have no idea why Mom didn’t take us.) Due to a lack of books, I would read the same ones again each summer and would even resort to reading the encyclopedia set we had. If the school gave us a summer reading list, I would be so happy because then Mom had to find us the books to read.

But sadly, after the first few weeks of summer, boredom would return when all the books had been read.

It took some time to learn this, but all of us three sisters learned to NEVER EVER tell our mother, “There’s nothing to do”, or get caught doing nothing.

She would always say, “I’ll find you something to do”, and believe me it wouldn’t be fun.

(1) WEEDS! We had these big gardens in the front and back of our house and every summer we would all have to pull weeds in those gardens. You know the feeling on a hot, sticky day outside pulling weeds. Yuck! No gloves, so the dirt stuck to your hands and got under your fingernails. The bugs! Ick! The flies would buzz around your head and the ants would crawl up your legs. I hated it.

(2) CLEAN OUT THE GIANT CLOSET! In the laundry room of our house was a huge closet where the toys and games were kept. We accumulated these things through years of Christmases and birthdays. Just like most kids, we would play with something and never want to put it away. When we played board games, the loser always had to put it away. We would throw all the pieces in the box and toss the box into the giant closet. Notice, I said “toss”, not stack. The boxes never landed flat and the pieces inevitably fell out. So, cleaning out the giant closet was only fun if you could get away with playing with the toys as you put them away neatly and gathered up all the Monopoly pieces and play money scattered on the bottom of the closet. But beware, if you played more than you cleaned, you would get caught and yelled at.

(3) PAINT THE FENCE! We had a very attractive white picket fence around our backyard. It was great for keeping our basset hounds from running away. But it seems like almost every summer we got the job of painting that thing. It was a big job to paint each one of the boards and posts. Bugs would fly into the paint and stick there.

I vowed never to do this to my kids and I didn’t. But I’ll tell you, after doing those jobs, reading an encyclopedia didn’t seem quite so boring, and I learned a lot.

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