Iron gates at Chalmette National Cemetery entrance.
Bronze medallions painted pre-restoration.
Cannons converted to monuments with cannon ball top..
The GAR monument in Chalmette National Cemetery.
Unknown soldier grave marker.
Vintage Postcard of Chalmette Cemetery.
Repaired monuments at Chalmette Cemetery
Iron gate restoration in progress.
What I didn't realize was that women also went off to war with their husbands and sons, or disguised themselves as men to enlist and serve their country. Some did it for honor and other's for the wages. A man's pay enticed many women to enlist disguised as men to earn money to send home to their families. These women were generally women of the frontier who had traveled West settling new farmsteads, they knew how to shoot a gun as well as their husbands and brothers and felt they were protecting their rights to their land and country.
Sara Rosetta Wakeman, alias Private Lyons Wakeman
One of the more famous of these women is buried at the Chalmette Cemetery. Sara Rosetta Wakeman, from New York who enlisted in the Union Army as Private Lyons Wakeman, 153rd Regiment, New York State Volunteers on October 18th, 1862 after Abraham Lincoln had ordered the recruitment of an additional 300,000 soldiers to serve in the Union Army.
Private Lyons Wakeman grave monumentRecruitment of soldiers was quick and involved little more than a handshake making is very easy to enlist. Many young men enlisted, underage and anxious to serve their country. It is estimated that approximately 400 women also enlisted disguised as men, but the numbers are suspected to be much higher. The appeal of $20.00 per month was considered a high wage for the time and could be part of the motivation for men and women alike.
Grave monuments stacked together.
What makes Sara Wakeman's story so important, is the letters that were found in the attic of a farmhouse from Sara to her family. The letters provide the insight of a 19 year old woman serving her country as a soldier in the Union Army while in disguise.
Joined hands monument for Mathias TroyeSara's gender was not discovered until the letters were found and her grave located at Chalmette Cemetery. A book is written, An Uncommon Soldier by Lauren Cook Burgess documenting Sara's life and her letters home to her family during the Civil War. Her letters are filled with pride, the eagerness to help provide for her family in New York, the uncertainty of her future and the desire to own her own farm someday.
"You musn't trouble you Self about me. I am contented. I want you to get along the best way you can until this war is over. I believe that God will spare my life to come home once more. Then I will help you to pay you debts. I will send you more or less money while I am a soldier.
Our regiment don't expect to stay here long. I don't know where we shall go to. Some think that we shall go into a Fort into heavy artillery. For my part I don't care where we go to. I don't fear the rebel bullets nor I don't fear the cannon. I have heard the roar of the cannon." - Sara Rosetta Wakeman, alias Private Lyons Wakeman
Sara died of dysentery in a hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana and is buried at Chalmette National Cemetery.