Keith and Malinda Blalock Banner

(Photo)

Malinda Blalock; Regarding Malinda's being mustered out,
the Official Records state, "Mrs. L.M. Blalock-discharged for being a woman"



[Source: Atlas Editions; Civil War Cards]



Born L. McKesson Blalock in 1836 on the slopes of Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina, Blalock later assumed the nickname "Keith" after a renowned boxer since he, too, was effective with his fists. When the Civil War broke out, many North Carolina mountain folk found divided loyalties within their communities; Blalock and his stepfather were devoted to the Union. Keith, who had recently married Malinda Pritchard, a pretty girl 10 years his junior, was faced with the choice of hiding for the duration of the war or trekking to Kentucky to join the Union. He decided to join the Confederacy, planning to desert at the first opportune moment. Not wanting to be left behind, Malinda cut her hair, wore loose-fitting clothes, and enlisted as "Sam" Blalock, Keith's younger brother.

The two were assigned to the 26th North Carolina and served in Kinston, N.C., nowhere near Union lines. After about a month Blalock purposely rolled in poison oak. His superiors, thinking he had some unknown contagion, gave him a medical discharge on April 10, 1862. Malinda then revealed her true identity and was also discharged, and the two returned home. When Confederate agents later found Keith healthy and said he had to reenlist or be penalized under the new draft law, the Blalocks fled up Grandfather Mountain. They lived in hiding with other draft dodgers until a recruiting party found them and wounded Blalock in the arm. The couple fled to Tennessee and joined Col. George W. Kirk's guerrilla operations into the North Carolina mountains.

A merciless guerrilla, Blalock even ordered the execution of an uncle of his who sided with the Confederacy. He also suffered personal misfortunes: he lost an eye in a shoot-out with a neighbor and his stepfather was murdered by Confederate Vigilantes. Almost a year after the war, having boldly returned with Malinda to his home county, Blalock killed the man who had told the vigilantes where to find his stepfather. Malinda died in 1901; Blalock died in a handcar accident at the age of 77.



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