"Lieutenant Harry Buford"
AKA-Loreta Janeta 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
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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