Mary Burns (soldier)

For other people with the same name, see Mary Burns (disambiguation).

Mary Burns was an American woman who disguised herself as a man in order to fight in the American Civil War.[1] She enlisted in the 7th Michigan Volunteer Cavalry Regiment in order not to be parted from her lover, who was in the same regiment.[2] Her sex was discovered within a few days, before her company had left Detroit. [3] She was arrested in uniform, held in the city jail, and charged with masquerading as a man. The account of the incident in the Detroit Advertiser and Tribune (February 25, 1863) described the defendant as "a very pretty woman".[4]


  1. Albert A. Nofi, A Civil War Treasury. Da Capo Press, 1995. ISBN 0-306-80622-3, p. 357.
  2. DeAnne Blanton and Lauren M. Cook, They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the American Civil War. LSU Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8071-2806-6, pp. 31 and 124.
  3. Mary Elizabeth Massey, Women in the Civil War. University of Nebraska Press, 1994. ISBN 0-8032-8213-3. p. 80, citing the Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, February 25, 1863. Available on Google books. Accessed 8 January 2008.
  4. Cited in Michigan Women in the Civil War. Michigan, 1963. p. 33.

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