“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Linville in Avery County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)

A Woman of War

Sarah Malinda Blalock

A Woman of War Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, August 20, 2014
1. A Woman of War Marker
Inscription. Sarah Malinda Blalock and her husband, William McKesson “Keith” Blalock, lived in Coffey’s Gap on the Watauga and Caldwell County line in 1860. Keith Blalock was an avowed Unionist, but with the passage of the first Confederate conscription act imminent, he enlisted in the 26th North Carolina Infantry on March 20, 1862. He hoped to get close enough to the Union lines to desert. Malinda Blalock enlisted in the same day, concealing her identity as a woman and passing herself off as Sam Blalock, Keith’s younger brother. Once in the army, Keith Blalock concluded that his plan would not work. To obtain a medical discharge (he already had a hernia), he stripped and rolled around in poison oak, developing a rash that made him unfit for service. He was discharged on April 20, as was Malinda Blalock after she revealed her true identity. They returned to the mountains where Keith recovered.

Confederate conscription officers soon came calling, driving Keith Blalock into the wilds of Grandfather Mountain, where he began to guide escaped Union prisoners and dissidents from Blowing Rock, across Grandfather Mountain near Shull’s Mill, and into Banner Elk. On June 1, 1864 he enlisted in Co. D, 10th Michigan Cavalry, and continued to scout in the High Country, inciting or participating in several skirmishes in the area and losing
A Woman of War Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, August 20, 2014
2. A Woman of War Marker
an eye. Malinda Blalock may have dressed as a man again and accompanied Keith, but firm evidence has not been found.

After the war ended, the Blalocks moved to Mitchell County briefly before heading to Texas. They later returned to North Carolina and settled south of here in Montezuma. They are both buried in the Montezuma Community Cemetery.

(left) Sarah M. Blalock - Courtesy North Carolina Collections, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
(right) William M. “Keith” Blalock - Courtesy Avery County Historical Society and Museum

Major funding for this project was provided by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, through the Transportation Enhancement Program of the Federal Transportation Efficiency Act for the 21th Century.
Erected by North Carolina Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the North Carolina Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 36° 3.733′ N, 81° 53.295′ W. Marker is near Linville, North Carolina, in Avery County. Marker is on Hospital Drive half a mile south of Newland Highway (North Carolina Route 181), on the left when traveling south. Click for map. The marker is on the grounds of Cannon Memorial Hospital. Marker is at or near this postal address: 434 Hospital Drive, Newland NC 28657, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Asa Gray (approx. 2.8 miles away); Andre Michaux (approx. 2.8 miles away); Crossnore School (approx. 3.6 miles away); Banner Elk (approx. 6.6 miles away); Lees-McRae College (approx. 7 miles away); Shepherd M. Dugger (approx. 7 miles away); Yellow Mountain Road (approx. 7.1 miles away); Cranberry Iron Mine (approx. 7.5 miles away).
Categories. War, US Civil
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. This page has been viewed 327 times since then and 107 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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