Velazquez's adventures began with the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. According to The Woman in Battle, her first husband resigned his commission to join the Confederacy at her urging. Indeed, so great was Velazquez's martial ardor
--she expressed a wish to become another Joan of Arc --that she told him of her decision to enlist in the war effort herself by cross-dressing as a lieutenant in the Confederate army. He was adamantly against her suggestion, but when he left for the Virginia theater, she stole off to Arkansas to raise a regiment for his command, which she later delivered to him in Pensacola, Florida. He reluctantly accepted this role but was soon killed in an accident…Velazquez went on to chronicle a series of dramatic military exploits, which included action at Manassas (Bull Run), Ball's Bluff, Fort Donelson, and Shiloh. She claimed to have come within shooting distance of Ulysses S. Grant and to have worked as a blockade runner out of Havana. Although her more fantastic experiences cannot be corroborated, her narrative is remarkably accurate in recording fairly minute details about weather, commanding officers, and the course of battles. Although Velazquez's nom de guerre, "Lieutenant Harry T. Buford," does not appear in official records --Velazquez claimed to have been an independent --Richmond newspaper accounts do mention a Confederate "Lieutenant Bensford" arrested as a woman and calling herself Mrs. Alice Williams, a name Velazquez adopted elsewhere around the time she reported being arrested.