from Mary Seacole's The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands
(Seacole was a mixed-race Jamaican nurse who revolutionized care in the Crimean War) -
"What I did carry away was very unimportant: a gaily-decorated altar-candle, studded with gold and silver stars, which the present Commander-in-Chief condescended to accept as a Sebastopol memorial; an old cracked China teapot, which in happier times had very likely dispensed pleasure to many a small tea-party; a cracked bell, which had rung many to prayers during the siege, and which I bore away on my saddle; and a parasol, given me by a drunken soldier. He had a silk skirt on, and torn lace upon his wrists, and he came mincingly up, holding the parasol above his head, and imitating the walk of an affected lady, to the vociferous delight of his comrades. And all this, and much more, in that fearful charnel city, with death and suffering on every side."
I love this image so much - the crossdresser and the mixed-race woman meeting for a moment in the scene of war.
eta: "With the theatricals directly I had nothing to do. Had I been a little younger the companies would very likely have been glad of me, for no one liked to sacrifice their beards to become Miss Julia or plain Mary Ann; and even the beardless subalterns had voices which no coaxing could soften down. But I lent them plenty of dresses; indeed, it was the only airing which a great many gay-coloured muslins had in the Crimea. How was I to know when I brought them what camp-life was? And in addition to this, I found it necessary to convert my kitchen into a temporary green-room, where, to the wonderment, and perhaps scandal, of the black cook, the ladies of the company of the 1st Royals were taught to manage their petticoats with becoming grace, and neither to show their awkward booted ankles, nor trip themselves up over their trains. It was a difficult task in many respects. Although I laced them in until they grew blue in the face, their waists were a disgrace to the sex; while—crinoline being unknown then—my struggles to give them becoming [Pg 181] embonpoint may be imagined."