Although there are conflicting versions to her story, according to a newspaper clipping published on October 27, 1863 in The Times-Democrat in New Orleans, Frances Louis Clayton enlisted alongside her husband to fight in the Civil War. They were residents of Minnesota, but enlisted in a Missouri regiment. During the Battle of Stones River, her husband was killed while standing feet in front of her. She then received "a ball in the hip" resulting in medical treatment where her gender was discovered. After medical treatment she was discharged. While traveling home, her train was attacked by a band of Confederates and she was robbed of her money and papers. The clipping describes her as "very tall, masculine looking, weathered bronze by exposure to the weather, and commanded universal attention by her masculine stride in her walking, erect and soldierly carriage and personally outer appearance."