May 11, 2023 at 6:30 pm

Shelby Harriel

Behind the Rifle: Women Soldiers in Civil War Mississippi, is a ground-breaking study that discusses women soldiers with a connection to Mississippi: either those who hailed from the Magnolia State or those from elsewhere who fought in Mississippi battles during the Civil War.

The meaning of the title is twofold. Literally, it refers to women soldiers holding and aiming their rifles. Figuratively, it refers to them hiding their true identities “behind the rifle” in the guise of male soldiers.

The presentation will go beyond examining women soldiers though. It also serves as a brief survey of military action in the state. Additionally, this presentation will reach a wider audience beyond individuals specifically interested in Mississippi history because it includes new information regarding women soldiers who were killed or wounded in such battles as Shiloh, Allatoona, Peach Tree Creek, Antietam, 2nd Fort Donelson (Dover), Cloyd’s Mountain/New River Bridge, and Gettysburg. Her book also details new documentation regarding female fighters held as prisoners of war in such prisons as Andersonville and Alton.

The culmination of ten years of research, the book (and her presentation) provides new details of formerly recorded female fighters, debunks some cases, and introduces previously undocumented ones.

“Harriel offers fresh evidence and cogent insight into the phenomenon of women soldiers fighting and dying in the American Civil War. Her exhaustive research brings to light stories previously undocumented and is presented in an engaging narrative that crucially places these women in their social and historical context. Behind the Rifle is a welcome addition to both Civil War and women’s history. I couldn’t be more pleased to recommend it.” (DeAnne Blanton, coauthor of They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the American Civil War)


More information can be found here: