SHERIDAN WOMAN A SPY
One of the most interesting and peculiar stories of the day was unearthed today by a Daily Enterprise man in his search for news. He found an aged woman at the office of Clerk of Court B. G. Carney, having gone there to apply for a pension from the government for active service in the United States Army.
To substantiate her statements Mrs. Bliss exhibited a scar over her left eye caused by a bullet narrowly grazing her skull. Her face was wrinkled with age and her hair as white as snow, yet she spoke with a clear accent and related everything that was wanted.
"I received that scar in a skirmish while with an Illinois regiment," she said. "I could hold a rifle in my arms in those days as good as any man, and you bet there isn't a man living today who has a steadier eye or can shoot straighter."
At the time the war broke out Mrs. Bliss was filled with enthusiasm and her patriotism swelled until she thought she would run away and fight for her adopted country, for she is an Austrian by birth. She was told girls could not join the army. That did not daunt her, so she clipped her long curly locks from her head and jumped into a pair of men's trousers. She then had no difficulty in gaining entrance to the recruiting officer's quarters and enlisting with the Sixty-third regiment. She saw active service all through the war and was often detailed on most perilous missions. On one occasion she was sent as a union spy into the very stronghold of the enemy and came back with data and other information invaluable to her commander.
While in the army her secret became known to a young and brave comrade, who fell desperately in love with her at first sight. In the next few months they shared the hardships of war alike. The romance finally culminated in their marriage. They were both mustered out at the end of the war with an honorable record for bravery. Her husband died several years later and after that she fell in love with another ex-union soldier, by the name of Bliss, whom she married. They took up their last homestead at Lander, Wyo., where Mr. Bliss was widely and popularly known. He was a high Mason and enjoyed the confidence and esteem of people generally. Mr. Bliss died some twenty years ago and since that time his widow has been eking out an existence the best she could, working in restaurants and hotels, though always too proud to ask for assistance of anybody. She claims she was defrauded of a homestead in Montana by a wealthy cattleman and will not try to recover her property. She was befriended at Red Lodge, Mont., three years ago by Frank Stanzick, a man of her own nationality, and finding herself destitute and without relatives or other friends, finally appealed to him. Stanzick later removed to this county and has since been caring for her, regarding her almost as a mother.
THE STORY OF HER LIFE
Not many men have had as varied and adventurous experiences as that of Mrs. Louise E. Bliss, who appeared before Clerk of Court Carney today and desired him to assist her in getting a pension. Mrs. Bliss says that she was born at Castle Franvick, Austria, and came to the United States when a little girl. Her father was a shoemaker in Jonesboro, Ill. She enlisted with Colonel McCowan, commander of the Sixty-third infantry, for special service. Her father objected, but she ran away from her home and was detailed with Company G under Captain Richardson. A few days ago she was on the streets of Billings and met this same captain who recognized her, calling her by the old familiar name of "Lew," under which she was known to her comrades, it being a nickname chosen by herself in lieu of her first name, "Louise."
In spite of the many years that have elapsed since she was a young girl in the army she still preserves the elastic step that shows her military training. She claims she can still handle a gun as good as a man.
While in the army she was married to John Sibler, a soldier of the same regiment. She was in the battles about Vicksburg and received two wounds while in the service. As a spy she proved of great assistance to the Union forces and was held in high esteem by the officers of her regiment.
Her first husband dying, she married Leander Bliss, an ex-soldier of the Third California infantry volunteers, a sergeant in the Union army. Bliss was later appointed as Indian agent at the Arapahoe and Shoshone agencies and with his wife lived there many years, contented and happy and prospering the while. After his death about twenty years ago Mrs. Bliss went hither and thither until finally she settled on a homestead in Montana. She claims she was defrauded out of this as well as her personal property by an unscrupulous man.
Mrs. Bliss is now making her home with Frank Stanzick in Sheridan county. She has no living relatives and has never before applied for a pension. It is believed she is entirely deserving of a most liberal pension from the government, which she had served so faithfully.
Last Updated April 2005
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