Sunday, March 8, 2015

Michigan Bridget

Happy International Women's Day!  

Usually when we think of women combatants in the past few centuries (at least in America), we think of women disguising themselves as men for any number of reasons.  But there are plenty of instances of women combatants who never bothered to hide their gender.

One is Bridget "Biddy" Deavers (or Divers, or any number of other spellings) who was a trooper in the 1st Michigan Cavalry during the civil war and afterwards.  The general story is that she, like many women soldiers of the period, followed her husband to war and took his place in the roster when he died, but as there were no Divers on the Michigan rosters at the onset of the war I expect that this is anecdotal, borrowed from other tales of women in similar circumstances.  

Some people argue (erroneously, I believe) that her combat experience probably ended with Grant's July 1864 order to remove women from front line roles, but as she was noted to have been active in battles in October of that year and April of the next I find this an unlikely assertion.   She was an active, uniformed combatant throughout the entirety of the Civil War and, according to most sources, continued to serve after the war in a western unit, though there is debate as to which one, and whether she served cavalry or infantry in the west.