GI Jane Just Got Real: Panetta opens combat roles to women

“Senior defense officials say Pentagon chief Leon Panetta is removing the military’s ban on women serving in combat, opening hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs after more than a decade at war.

Union Army soldier Frances L. Clayton or Clalin, 1863-1864

Clayton was a woman who, dressing and acting as a man, served in the Union Army during the Civil War under the pseudonym of Jack Williams. Handwriting on the back of the card indicates that she served in the 4th Missouri Heavy Artillery, Company I, and the 13th Missouri Cavalry, Company A. She and her husband, Elmer Clayton, enlisted in 1861. Elmer died at the battle of Stones River (Murfeesboro, Tennessee), fought between December 31, 1862 and January 2, 1863.

Photographed by Samuel Masury, Boston, Massachusetts

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