Keith and Malinda Blalock, Couple in Confederate Service

Malinda Blalock holding a portrait of her husband. Image from the Avery Museum.On August 11, 1913, Keith Blalock died while operating a hand car on a mountain railroad. He was the husband of Malinda Blalock, who was North Carolina’s only known female Civil War soldier.

At the beginning of the Civil War, Keith and his wife, Malinda, lived near Grandfather Mountain in Watauga County. Despite being Unionists, the couple both enlisted in the 26th North Carolina Troops in March 1862. Malinda enlisted under the name Sam. Keith’s decision to enlist was made primarily to avoid being drafted by the recently passed Confederate Conscription Act, and Malinda simply did not want her husband going to war without her.

While their regiment was stationed near Kinston, Keith devised a plan to be medically discharged by rubbing his body with poison oak and causing a rash. Once he obtained his discharge, his wife disclosed her gender, and promptly received a discharge as well.

Upon their return to the mountains, the Blalocks joined Unionist guerrillas operating in and around Grandfather Mountain. Keith was wounded several times fighting Confederate home guard units.

After the war, Keith ran for political office in Mitchell County, but was defeated. Malinda died from natural causes in 1901. The couple is buried in Avery County.

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