Female Cavalry – Rhea Co., TN
From: pamba1@aol.com
During the American Civil War, Rhea County was one of the counties in eastern Tennessee that was the most sympathetic to the cause of the Confederate States of America. Rhea raised seven companies for the Confederate military, compared to just one company for the Union.
Rhea had the only female cavalry company on either side during the Civil War. It was made up of young women in their teens and twenties from Rhea County and was formed in 1862. The girls named their unit the Rhea County Spartans. Until 1863, the Spartans simply visited loved ones in the military and delivered the equivalent of modern day care packages. After Union troops entered Rhea in 1863, the Spartans may have engaged in some scouting for Confederate forces. The members of the Spartans were later arrested in April 1865 under orders of a Rhea County Unionist and were forced to march to the Tennessee River. From there they were transported to Chattanooga aboard the USS Chattanooga. Once in Chattanooga, Union officers realized the women were not a threat and ordered them released and returned to Rhea County. But first were required to take the oath of allegiance to the United States government. The Spartans were not an officially recognized unit of the Confederate Army.[4]