Feisty Females: The “Sidesaddle Soldiers” of Rhea County, Tennessee

CivilWarFlagsA group of well-to-do young ladies, anxious to do their part for the Southern cause, formed and all-female cavalry unit in 1862, calling themselves the Rhea County Spartans.  These “sidesaddle soldiers” were like many women on both sides of the war who wished with all their hearts they could do something to lend support (if only they were men!).

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6 Comments

  1. Great article, thank you.

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    • You’re so welcome and thanks for stopping by!

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  2. Hi Sharon. Thank you for this great article. About 25 years ago I bought an ambrotype that shows eight young women and one young man, all sitting on horses in a pose that faces the camera. Inside the case, the following is written in period ink:

    This is the ‘Beauregard Cavalry.’ Mr. J. A. Allen was our Captain, to whom this ambrotype belongs. Oh! What delightful times we had. Ah! I must remember. I ought not write here; it will [illegible] it, and no one will ever see it. Farewell Beauregard Cavalry, I hope happy days will ever return.

    One of the old members of the ‘B– Cavalry’

    When I purchased this image, I asked the dealer (of Civil War antiques) if he knew what this writing meant. He didn’t. Sometime after that, I showed the image to another Civil War antiques dealer, and coincidentally he had actually owned this same ambrotype at one time. He said that he had heard a story that the Beauregard Cavalry was a group of young women who had banded together to do some spying for the Confederacy, and that at one point they had been arrested, but the Federal general in the area actually got angry at his men for arresting these women and ordered them released. However, he said he couldn’t substantiate that story and knew nothing more.

    Sometime after that I obtained a copy of the 1911 Confederate Veteran magazine with the article that you referenced. The story in the article matches the story told to me by the antiques dealer, and there’s the consistency of the Allen surname between Barbara, the 1911 article’s author “W.G.” and Captain “J.A.” (I’m not 100% sure that first initial is a “J”, but I think it is) referenced in the case writing. The only thing that’s missing is a use of the name “Beauregard Cavalry”.

    I’m wondering if you’ve ever seen this name used in reference to the ladies from Rhea County? I have long hoped to identify who the ladies of the Beauregard Cavalry were and learn their story.

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    • What a fabulous story and piece of history … thanks for sharing! I don’t believe I ran across any references to “Beauregard Calvary”. Do you have any idea where the picture was taken?

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      • Thanks for your reply! Unfortunately I don’t know where the picture was taken. Other than the writing in the case, there are no markings or anything else that I can see which might provide a clue.

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        • I was wondering if what Beauregard had to do with the name, but perhaps in honor of General Beauregard who was in charge of defending Fort Sumter? I haven’t found any specific references to their captain J.A. Allen — that could also have been an “honorary” title and perhaps not a commissioned Confederate officer. It’s a mystery for sure!

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