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Mollie Bean was a North Carolina woman who, pretending to be a man, joined the 47th North Carolina, a unit of the Confederate army in the American Civil War.

She was captured in uniform by Union forces outside Richmond, Virginia, on the night of February 17, 1865. When questioned at the provost marshal's office, she said she had served with the 47th for two years and been twice wounded. (North Carolina Troops 1861-1865—a Roster, vol. XI, editor W.T. Jordan). Given that unit's record in 1863, her statement indicates she may have fought at the Battle of Gettysburg.

The Richmond Whig, which reported the case on February 20, 1865, assumed that other soldiers knew of Bean's true gender and insinuated that she may have had sexual relations with one or more of them. Neither assertion was, however, based on any concrete evidence, Bean's own testimony or that of any other soldier in her unit.

Subsequently, she was accused of being both a spy and "manifestly crazy", and incarcerated at Richmond's wartime prison Castle Thunder.

She is a major fictional character in Harry Turtledove's alternate history novel The Guns of the South.

See also[]

  • Crossdressing during wartime
  • Deborah Sampson, impersonated a man to fight during the American War of Independence

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