Zarvona's Gravestone at Deep Falls Cemetery, Chaptico, MD



Richard Thomas Zarvona (October 27, 1833 – March 17, 1875), born Richard Thomas Jr., was an American adventurer and a Confederate Army officer who became known as "the French lady" after a disguised Thomas and a crew of accomplices seized the passenger steamer St. Nicholas during the first year of the American Civil War, planning to raid the sloop of war USS Pawnee.

The eldest son of former Maryland House of Delegates speaker Richard Thomas Sr. and the nephew of Maryland governor James Thomas, Richard Thomas Jr. was born and raised in "Mattapany," the Thomas family plantation south of the Patuxent River.[1] An accomplished athlete and sportsman, Thomas attended Charlotte Hall Military Academy and another military school in nearby Talbot County, Maryland, before receiving appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1850. Thomas survived his plebe year with 189 demerits, but resigned in October 1851. He then traveled the world, serving for a time with Garibaldi in Italy. It was then that he added "Zarvona" to his name.




                Cross-Dressing Civil War Piracy on the Potomac

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 Col. Zarvona in his "French Lady" disguise