Annie Oakley was a number of things - a sharpshooter, wild west performer, advocate for women learning self defense, and also quite patriotic. Just before the Spanish American War Annie Oakley wrote to then President William McKinley and offered an unusual service.
Here is the text of the letter from Annie Oakley:
"Hon Wm. McKinley, President
I for one feel confident that your good judgment will carry America safely through without war.
But in case of such an event I am ready to place a company of fifty lady sharpshooters at your disposal.
Every one of them will be an American and as they will furnish their own arms and ammunition will be little if any expense to the government.
The original is in the National Archives.
When the United States was pulled into World War I, Annie Oakley again offered to raise a regiment of woman volunteers to fight in the war, similar to the offer during the Spanish-American War. At neither time was that offer accepted.
She also offered to teach marksmanship to the troops. She did travel across the country for the National War Council of the Young Men's Christian Association and War Camp Community Service. At stops at training camps, she gave shooting demonstrations. And here the blending of legend and fact seems to blur - some say that Annie actually taught the WWI soldiers how to be sharpshooters. It's possible for at that time she was still reasonably healthy - and very much still an expert shot. She lived in the Maryland area close to military posts and could well have done some marksmanship training of the troops. Whatever the case, Annie Oakley deserves an honorable mention for her patriotism throughout two wars.
Unless otherwise noted contents © 1996 to date by Captain Barbara A. Wilson, USAF (Ret)