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Women under siege.

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This page is dedicated to women who rose to the challenge of different roles during conflict.

A part of women's role in conflict has largely been ignored. They played the part hero, villain, victor and vanquished. Women have precipitated in conflicts from behind the lines, on the front lines, and even in command of the lines.

In the bible Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, ruled the children of Israel, this rule included military engagements (Judges 4:6-7)

Queen Zabibi, went to battle with Tiglath-Pileser III ( 745-727 B.C.E.), founder of the second Assyrian empire, she was conquered in the third year of his reign(1 ). After this Queen Samsi refused to pay tribute and was also conquered by king Tiglathpileser(2 ).

American and Russian archaeologists have examined 44 mounds, or kurgans, by the city of Pokrovka in Kazakhstan at the Russian border. These mounds are the location where ancient nomadic tribes buried their dead. Evidence was found of women warriors, women had been found with spears and daggers. One woman was bow legged from horseback riding. She had an amulet in the form of a leather pouch containing a bronze arrowhead. To her right side was an Iron dagger to her left a quiver hold more than 40 arrows tipped in bronze (3).

Queen Tomyris of Massagetae fought back against King Cyrus of Persia after he took her son (4 ).

Artemisia, was the daughter of Lygdamis, and ruler of a Carian kingdom, that included Halicarnassus. With five ships she accompanied Xerxes on his invasion of Greece in 480 BCE. She was said to have shown bravery and resource at the battle of Salamis (5).

In the second century BCE Roman general Gaius Marius came into combat with Cimbrians women. Cimbrians women would threaten their own men with death if they considered retreating(6 ).

In 39 AD in Chinese occupied Vietnam, the Trung sisters led forces to defeating the occupying Chinese forces. In 40 AD they where proclaimed queens. This was short lived, in two years the Chinese sent an overwhelming and more experienced for the regains their lost territory. The two sister knowing they had been beaten committed suicide by throwing themselves in a river(7 ).

Another female Vietnam military commander was Phung Thi Chinh, while leading her troops to the front according to legend gave birth and "Surrounded, she delivered at the front itself, after which, putting the newborn baby on her back and brandishing a sword in each hand, she opened a bloody route in the ranks of the enemy and escaped."(8 ).

Trieu Thi Trinh also from Vietnam in third century was a heroic female warrior (9 ).

Queen Mavia had open war with the Romans (10 ).

Boudicca, was a queen of a small tribe if people known as the Iceni who made their home near what is now known Norfolk, England. When Rome annexed her kingdom, Because Roman Procurator Catus Decianus, changed a grant to a loan. when the Romans tried to seize her land Boudicca rebelled. She was beaten and her daughters were raped, her estates were liquidated and the lesser of members of the house were enslaved by the Romans. The queens responded, with 100,000 troops and after numerous victories against the Romans she as defeated in C.E. 61, at some place between Towchester and Wall. She fled back to Norfolk area, and fearing what would happen to her in Roman hands, she committed suicide (11 ).

In the first century AD, British Queen of the Brigantes Cartimandua ruled over the largest and most powerful tribe in Roman Britain. She was seen as a stabilizing force by the Romans because of her quell dynastic conflicts (12 ).

In 272 AD a Syrian queen (of Palmyra) and successful military leader Zenobia tried to fight off a siege by the Romans. The Roman troops received reinforcements Zenobia did not, so the Romans captured Palmyra (13 ).

Chinese warrior woman Hua Mu-lan lived in the 5th century AD. Was a second lady of the Han Clan. Served and fought with Chinese troops disguised as a man (14 ).

Dihya al-Kahina ( Dahia, Damia, Diah, Kahena,Cahena, A-Cahina, Cohen, Cohena)lead an a resistance to invasion of Muslims in 649. she called here troops "Lions of Africa and Judah". It's said she died like a Zealot with her sword in her hand(15 ).

Alfhild was married to Alf the son of a ninth century Danish King. She backed out her plans marriage and donned men's clothing and became a Pirate. She eventually she returned to wearing women's clothing and got married (16 ).

Rusila, a women who lead troops in Denmark, who often clashed with her brother Thrond from Norway (17 ).

Sela sister of Koller, King of Norway was also a skilled and experienced warrior(18 ).

Wigbiorg also showed bravery in combat and was made the queen of Zealand (19 ).

Wisna, was also brave woman warrior(20 ).

Ladgerda - c. 870 A.D., Viking. Was said to have had an amazing prowess at war (21 ).

Aethelflaed, was the oldest daughter of  Alfred the Great of England. She established alliances with neighbors, lead the lead Mercian forces in battle, she was responsible for building ten fortresses in the newly conquered territories (22 ).

In medieval Denmark a women called Gurith dressed as a man and became soldier(23 ).

Warrior women defended their homes from attackers when needed. On Skufey (in the Faeroe islands) purior took up arms in such a manner and earned the complement "she was no worse than any man" (24 ).

Queen Gudit (Judith or Esato) of Ethiopia attacked the Aksumite kingdom in the last half of the tenth century, She her forces caused massive damage, the royal forces plundered drove the king out (25 ).

Matilda of Ramsbury, mistress of Bishop Roger of Salisbury, during the siege of Devizes held the fortifications for three days (26 ).

Queen Eleanor of Castile, took part in the crusades with her husband King Edward I (27 ).

Matilda, Maud, Empress Matilda (1102-67) was Henry the I only legitimate child. She was force to flee when her nephew Stephen seized the throne. She and her half-brother Robert, Earl of Gloucester invaded England and waged an unsuccessful civil war. Her son became Henry II ( 28 ).

Tomoe Gozen, was a samurai who rode into battle and it was said she fought brilliantly (29 ).

Hojo Masako (1157-1225)was the wife of Japans first Shogun. She directed armies and rule the Shogunate from a convent where she retired after her husbands death (30 ).

Spanish queen of Castile and Leon Urraca and heir to Alfonso VI kingdom. She remarried after her first husband died, she married her second husband Alfonso I of Aragon. She had reoccurring warfare with her husband who seized her lands. The marriage was annulled in 1114 and she recovered most of her seized land with the aid of her some by her first husband, succeeded her Alfonso VII (31 ).

All of nobility served in armies this included people like the swords woman Luzia Stanga (32 ).

Black Agnes, Countess of March, held off a siege for 19 weeks against the Castle of Dunbar, led by the Earl of Salisbury in 1338 (33 ).

Pirate Grace O'Malley, or Granuaile in the 1500's, she commanded,three galleys and 200 men. She bore little resemblance of Christian ideal version of womanhood(34 ).

There was an African warrior Queen of Zaria called Amina(1533-1610?), she commanded and lead her cavalry of Zazzau through various campaigns (35 ).

Sixteenth-century explorer named Orellana found a tribe of warrior women near a river he later called the Amazon (36 ).

Queen Amina[tu] of the Hausa people in Africa was known for her expertise in battle for over thirty four years she annexed lands and kingdoms (37 ).

A women who more interested in combat than marriage was Maria Pozzuoli(38 ). Another women who preferred combat is Marfisa (39 ).

Joan of Arc, was an "uneducated, village girl, yet she had turned the tide of the 100 year war against the English and tip it to the French (40 ).

Isabella I of Castile, founded the Spanish Inquisition, and forced the Jews and Muslims from Spain (41 ).

Lady Mary Bankes in the summer of 1643 defended Corfe Castle against invaders. When her husband Sir John, the Chief Justice of Common Pleas, was away she was joined by her daughters, serving women, and five soldiers (42 ).

Anne Bonny,( Ann Bonn, Fulford, possibly Sarah Bonny 1719-1720)Dressed as a man and became a Pirate she served under Captain John Rackham. She was convicted of Piracy Jamaica on 28 November 1720. she was reprieved on the grounds she was pregnant(43 ).

Mary Read was also a Pirate on same ship a Ann, she was also disguised as a man. When all the ship was captured by a British ship, legend has it that the only crew members who were too drunk to fight off the British were Ann and Mary. May also was convicted but spared the death penalty because they were pregnant(44 ).

While pursing her errant husband Hannah Snell found herself "press ganged" in to the army in 1745. She fought in India as a marine, and became a national celebrity (45 ).

During the American Revolution an Oneida woman named Tyonajanegen fought at the battle of Oriskany, in New York, in 1777 (46 ).

Deborah Sampson Gannett served in the American revolutionary war in the Continental Army disguised as a man, a Mr Robert Shurtliff (47 ).

Margaret Corbin accompanied her husband John who was cannoneer in the Pennsylvania company a during Americas revolutionary war. When her husband was killed she took over his duties with "skill and vigour". She was seriously wounded and taken prisoner. She was paroled and treated in Philadelphia. Still disabled she was the only women stationed in the Invalid corps at West Point. In 1779 she received a pension from the state of Philadelphia, and Congress, they gave her "half pay drawn by a soldier in the service of these States." (48 ).

During the American Revolution, Elizabeth Grace and Rachel Martin, acting by moonlight and dressed as men waylaid a Tory messenger at gun point. His two military guards where powerless to respond (49 ).

Prudence Wright and several other females while on patrol during the American revolution intercepted a messenger for the British Leonard Whiting, of Hollis, N.H. with dispatch in his boots. They guarded their prison until authorities arrived (50 ).

Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley (Molly Pitcher ) joined her husband John Hays, a gunner in the Pennsylvania State Regiment during the American revolution. On June 28 1778 during the battle of Battle of Monmouth while she was getting water for parched troops, her husband was overtaken by heat Mary took her husbands place and loaded the cannon for the rest of the engagement. She didn't flinch when a shot came close enough to tear her petticoat, she held her ground and kept loading the cannon (51 ).

Nancy Hart, an "extra loyal Georgia woman," who single handed captured a squad during the American revolution. She was apprehended by the British soldiers who forced them to cook and clean for them. she grabbed a musket and because she was cross eyed none of the soldiers were able to tell who was in her sights and none where able to overcome her (52 ).

Jemima Warner joined her husband Private James Warner. During a march the army encountered and unexpected swamp the army was starving and soon Private Warner fell behind the rest of the troops. Jemina stayed by his side till he died, she took his gun and other equipment and rejoined the rest of the troops (53 ).

Elite all female troops fought in the West African Kingdom of Dahomey (54 ).

The Maid of Saragossa, helped in the defense of a Spanish town in 1808 (55 ).

Juana Azurduy de Padilla was born in 1781 in Chuquisaca (today Sucre, Bolivia) she received an convent education, but decided against become a nun. Instead she married Manuel Asencio Padilla in 1805. Together they joined patriot forces and fought Argentine independence. After her husband was killed in the battle of Battle of Viloma she then withdrew to Salta where she continued to fight (56 ).

Nadezhda Durova posed as a man to join the Russian Imperial cavalry during tile Napoleonic wars (57 ).

During the 18th century Mary Lacy dressed as a man fought and worked on ships along side of men. (58 ).

Queen Macario fought several battles against Portuguese at Fort Mina while attempting to migrate and settle her friends, relatives, and dependents into Sierra Leone in the eighteenth (59 ).

Englishwomen Mary Anne Talbot, was a "drummer boy" in Flanders Fields and saw navel combat (60 ).

Gertrudis Bocanegra a woman from a woman from a respected family. Fought for Mexican independence she organized small underground armies of women that smuggled supplies to the battlefield. She was captured, questioned, and tortured. On October 17 1817 she was executed (61 ).

Cheng I Sao, 'the Dragon Lady of the South China Sea' 1810's, commanded an enormous armada of ships. She inherited them from a pirate chieftain. She joined with Chang Pao the son of a fisherman transformed a lose confederation of fleets into a well organized fighting force (62 ).

Sarah Borginis, fought in the Mexican war (63 ).

Lucy Brewer fought in the war of 1812(64 ).

In China women fought against the Manchu in Taiping Rebellion of 1851-1864. The rebel forces included all female battalions led by women general such as Su Sanniang (65 ).

Queen mothers Ama Seewaa and Kokofuhemaa Ataa Birago fought gallantly in defense of the Asante nation (66 ).

Lakshmi Bai was one of the most valiant fighters against the British during the 'Mutiny' of 1857 (67 ).

Sarah Edward fought in the American civil war (68 ).

Nancy Hart member Leila C. Morris said in 1896 "We so admired the loyalty and daring bravery of Nancy Hart that we enthusiastically adapted her name for our company.". though they never fired a shot they became a well organized disciplined, commissioned military company (69 ).

During the American Civil War, women from the North and south, both black and white, served their cause in a number of duties as color bearers, saboteurs, spies, nurses, cooks, and scouts. Dr. Mary Walker gave up her medical practice and sought an appointment as an army Surgeon. This was rejected but served as a nurse in tent hospitals in Warrenton and Fredericksburg, Va.(70 ).

During the Civil War, 250 women disguised themselves a men and fought. These women were only discovered when they were injured or dead so there probably were more(71 ).

Women also fought in the Boxer rebellion when women organized themselves into militant "Red Lantern" groups (72 ).

An Apache woman Lozen fought along side Apache warriors Victorio and Geronimo (73 ).

In Ghana from 1900-01 the Queen Mother of Kumasi, Yaa Asantewaa lead a resistance against British domination (74 ).

Flora Sanders, the British woman who fought with the Serbian army, eventually being awarded the rank of sergeant(75 ).

In France Emilienne Moreau, who bravely won the Croix de guerre. If she acted like a soldier she didn't turn herself into a soldier, she remained a young women(76 ).

In Russia Maria Botchkareva the daughter of a former serf. Served in combat, she carried a gun, but she specialized in dragging wounded soldiers from under enemy fire (77 ).

In India the Rani of Jhansi Regiment a military regiment of women that eventually number about 1,000 of whom the less suited to fight were assigned to nursing and support duties(78 ).

Hate Woman, was a Blackfoot warrior woman who rode with her husband on raids (79 ).

Constance Markievicz was a female officer to fight in the 1916 Rising in Ireland (80 ).

Lai Sho Sz'en (Lai Choi San) - 1922-1939, Sailed the South China Sea, inherited her business from her father. She commanded 12 junks fully armed by cannons and manned by rifle toting pirates. She , kidnapped men, women and children for ransom, ransacked homes and burned junks and sampans(81 ).

Victoria was born into privilege and her godmother was Queen Victoria, she spent her childhood living in a Scottish Castle. She also became the first woman to qualify as an engineer in the Merchant Navy, she also won the respect of her male peers. She traveled through minefield with Atlantic conveys during World War II, she helped rescue British forces in Marseille. She single handily kept the ship's engines running under heavy enemy bombardment. Her devotion to duty she was awarded the Lloyd's War Medal that was presented for exceptional gallantry at sea in time of war and never before won by a woman (82 ).

During World War I the Nurse Corps was organized, but not granted full military status. Throughout the war 23,000 Army and Navy nurses served in field, mobile, evacuation, base, and convalescent hospitals, troop trains and transport ships, and more than 10,000 of them went overseas. 200 of them died of illnesses. The first enlisted military women were Navy yeomen. In March, 1917, about 11,000 women enlisted in the Navy. They served as Marine Reservists and Coast Guard yeomen as well, mostly as clerks, translators, and radio electricians (83 ).

The Soviet government formed an all female aviation group in 1941. the group saw combat and flew 9,000 flights, 4,419 were considered combat sorties, they had 125 air battles and shot down 38 aircraft Vladimir Lavrinenkov, General-Colonel of Aviation , said "The women pilots served at the airfield on an equal footing with the men. And they even fought no worse than the men.... It wasn't easy for the girls at the front. Especially for women fighter-pilots: air combat demanded from them unusual physical strength and endurance. And the fact that the girls without complaining bore all the difficulties is a credit to them, and evoked tremendous respect from those around them." (84 ).

During World War II 400,000 women in America, volunteered to serve in the armed forces. They were not impervious to the dangers of war. A Japanese advance caused the evacuation of the Philippines. The remaining Americans including 77 nurses surrendered to the Japanese and were held as prisoners of war. They were held for three years and were released unharmed, but significantly thinner then before(85 ).

Korea, on July 5, 1950 within four days of US troops landing in Korea 57 Army nurses arrived at Pusan. A few days later a contingent were moved forward to a MASH (mobile army surgical hospital) unit to Taejon. Less than a month after hostiles began there were 100 nurses stationed in South Korea. Because of their closeness to the front lines they had casualties. These include 11 Air Force and Navy Nurses, Genevieve Smith who died on an aircraft en route to her assignment as Chief Army Nurse in Korea. Army nurse Eunice Coleman got a Bronze Star for her bravery and dedication for the evacuation of wounded Americans from Seoul to Japan. Flight Nurse Juanita Bonham received the Distinguished Flying Cross (86 ).

Vietnam, 10,000 women served in Vietnam and eight of them died there. Donna-Marie Boulay, a Vietnam veteran said about the statue that honors Women veterans "a woman's statue is appropriate ... We lived and worked amid the wounded, the dying, the dead." She also said "almost any man who served in Vietnam can tell you how vital the role of women was. Women were more than just nurses, technicians, officers and administrators. They were the sympathetic sister, surrogate mother and girl-next-door to soldiers far from home and in need of a familiar face."(87 ).

Desert Storm, more than 40,000 women served in the gulf during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. This had been the largest deployment of women in military history. 13 service women lost lives during this operation (88 ).

155,000 women served in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom since 2002 (89 ).

Update as of December 2009, 230,000 American military women served in recent conflicts. At least 120 have died and more than 650 have been wounded. Vet Former Army Sgt. Kayla Williams who wrote "Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army." said "People didn't come up to us and thank us for our service in the same way. They didn't give us free beers in bars in the same way when we first got back,". She noted many assumed that they were girlfriends or wives of servicemen (90 ).

But some have taken notice, retired Army colonel Peter R. Mansoor, said “Iraq has advanced the cause of full integration for women in the Army by leaps and bounds,” and “They have earned the confidence and respect of male colleagues.”(91 ).

The Bloody rampage by Maj. Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood in November 2009 was ended by civilian police officer Kimberly Munley. She rounded a corner, ID the shooter and shot him four times. In return she was shot twice in the leg and once in the arm (92 ).

A 1999 GAO report on the readiness of selected units said, "Our survey on the perception of readiness of units opened to women since 1993 showed that both men and women had a positive view of their own readiness. Furthermore, most men and women agreed that women either affected readiness no differently from men or affected readiness positively or very positively.". Studies from Rand and the GAO show neither a increased or decreased in their task cohesion. Today There about 200,000 positions in the military women can't serve in (93 ).

Researchers studying stress on combat personnel said, "We found no evidence that female soldiers are less able than male soldiers to cope with the stressors and challenges of serving in combat,". A team of military mental-health experts concluded "When discussing the role of the female soldier in combat, the focus needs to move away from one of weakness and vulnerability, to one of strength and accomplishment."(94 ).