The Lady Major and the War Governor: Belle Reynolds, Richard Yates, and the Politics of a Civil War Sex Scandal

Beginning with the first days of the Civil War in 1861, Republican Governor Richard Yates of Illinois responded with enthusiasm and loyal support for the Union cause. To answer Lincoln’s call for volunteers, he worked diligently to recruit, enlist, equip, organize, and train the sons of Illinois for the battlefield. He ordered the occupation of Cairo and encouraged Lincoln to protect the federal arsenal in St. Louis. Later he would secure high military commissions for prominent Illinoisans and personally brought hospital supplies to the wounded from the state.

Despite his energetic commitment to wartime activities, Yates still had time to become entangled in a good, old-fashioned sex scandal with Belle Reynolds, a woman Yates honored for meritorious conduct in caring for the wounded during the battle of Shiloh in April 1862. At the time, Ms. Reynolds also just happened to be the wife of an officer who fought in that battle with the 17th Illinois Infantry.

History professor A. James Fuller from the University of Indianapolis will provide the details in a presentation entitled, “The Lady Major and the War Governor: Belle Reynolds, Richard Yates, and the Politics of a Civil War Sex Scandal.”

Historic Elsah Foundation is providing this presentation as part of its ongoing Hosmer-Williams Lecture Series, which is sponsored by Liberty Bank, a United Community Bank. Originally scheduled as an in-person event, the presentation has been moved online and will take place via ZOOM on Thursday, September 17, 2020, at 7:00 pm. Those wishing to attend may use this link to join the talk.

Join the talk on September 17 at 7:00 pm, Central Time. You may want to join a few minutes early to be sure your computer, tablet, or phone is connected.

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