Seven years ago in Massachusetts when I was a features reporter at The Boston Globe, I saw some of the scenes that were filmed for a PBS documentary called "Rebel" about Loreta Velazquez, a Cuban-born woman who dressed like a man and fought for the Confederacy.
The documentary is done and airing 10 p.m. on WPBT2 May 24 (and other PBS stations nationally).
Here's my then Globe story about the making of the program. The people I interviewed in the story are featured in the documentary. It's nice to see the production come full circle.
This Cuban woman toiled as a man in the Civil War. So why has no one heard of her?
Loreta Janeta Velazquez sounded like a mythical figure: a Cuban-born woman raised in New Orleans, where she masqueraded as a male soldier and fought in the Civil War. With a fake mustache, beard, and a soldier's uniform, the Latina enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861 as Lieutenant Harry T. Buford , without her husband's knowledge.
``When I heard about Loreta, I was like, ` Why would a Cuban woman join the Confederacy? What is a Velazquez doing in 19th - century America?' " says Maria Agui Carter , a filmmaker and former producer for WGBH-TV (Channel 2).
That intrigue led Carter on a historical and personal journey into the life of this un- Southern belle.
Carter learned that Velazquez didn't just fight as a soldier in the historic battles of Bull Run and Shiloh, but posed as a spy after she was wounded during service. Velazquez chronicled her adventures as a soldier in a 600-page memoir called ``The Woman in Battle: The Civil War Narrative of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, Cuban Woman and Confederate Soldier." The book, brought back into print three years ago, features rare images of Velazquez as both a woman and a man.
Velazquez's colorful unsung life had the makings of a good documentary film, Carter thought. And so ``Rebel" was born.