"Lieutenant Harry Buford"
AKA-Loreta Janeta Velázquez


Loreta Velázquez, born in Cuba,was the granddaughter of world-renowned Spanish portrait painter, Diego Velázquez.Unable to find large amounts of information on her life, I will give you what I do have.

Velázquez married a young U.S. army officer in 1856, and settled in New Orleans. By 1860 they had had three children and all, at this point, had already died. When the Civil War began, she urged and supported her husband to fight with the Confederate Army. He refused to have any part of her accompanying him into battle, as many wives of the time did in order to care for their husbands. Being quite a wealthy woman, she waited til he had gone to battle and then went to extreme expense to have a uniform designed that would hide her feminine qualities. She described herself as "an uncommonly good-looking fellow." Donning this uniform and a quite"Lieutenant Harry Buford" AKA Loreta Velázquez realistic moustache, she followed her husband into war and was able to join him only shortly before his gun misfired, killing him. With no other family remaining, she took her husband's place and the name Lieutenant Harry Buford. She was assigned to a reserve unit, but became a part of several battles, including the Battle of Bull Run, whereupon she applied for a promotion and an assignment to a regular unit. Both were denied. Seeing the need for information about the enemy's plans, Velázquez offered her services as a spy, and ironically, had to wear female attire as a disguise while spying for the Confederate Army. Once, upon returning to New Orleans for a rest, she was detained as a Union Spy.

Her personal accounts of battle experience were written in "The Woman in Battle" in 1876. (a book this author has been unable to locate) The more time she spent in the army, the more confidence she gained, and she said that she felt like a gambler playing for extraordinarily high stakes. She wrote "Fear was a word I did not know the meaning of, and as I noted the ashy faces, and trembling limbs of some of the men about me, I almost wished I could feel a little fear, if only for the sake of sympathizing with the poor devils."

She claimed to have been appointed commander of a company of men during the Battle of Ball's Bluff in Virginia (October 1861) temporarily because all the officers has disappeared and were assumed dead. Once the battle was over and won, the first lieutenant mysteriously appeared, claiming that he had been taken by Yankees but somehow managed to escape. Convinced that he had been hiding in fear of the fighting she said, "He had a very sheepish look, as if he was ashamed of himself for playing a sneaking, cowardly trick..."

Velázquez married a second time and also lost another husband to the war. Again, she married for a third time after the war, had a child and traveled the sparsely populated and settled southwest.

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