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Victorians in Disguise – Part III


The American Civil War gave both men and women opportunities for ludicrous and thrilling chances at role playing.

One of these Victorians in disguise was Captain Nathaniel Lyon. While stationed in Saint Louis, he decided he wanted a close look at a Southern military camp nearby. The veteran army officer became “Old Mrs. Alexander”. He played “a society matron who liked to wear bombazine and a heavy black veil.” Lyon borrowed clothing from the mother-in-law of Representative Francis P. Blair, Jr., to pose as a woman of wealth.

He dressed in an elaborate dress and bonnet and used a carriage with a black driver. Mrs. Alexander was well known for being eccentric, so Lyon was able to take a leisurely tour through the Confederate camp.

From More Civil War Curiosities by Webb Garrison


  1. Susan —
    I love this post! Someone should build a novel around it. You, maybe?
    Woohoo on your big news this morning!!!
    Now, if you could just bottle and sell your single-mindedness, we could all produce more!!!

  2. Thanks, Mary Ann! Don’t know if we want our romance heroes clothed in women’s dresses, but it would make a good story.

    And it’s always fun to sell a story, and see it in print, no matter what genre. It’s also a great way to stretch yourself as a writer, writing in a different genre than usual, different length and point of view. It keeps my writing fresh.

  3. Caroline Clemmons says:

    How funny. I can only imagine this was without a beard. LOL

  4. LOL, Caroline! I’m guessing the heavy black veil covered his manliness from the soldiers in camp.

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