Some men of the Twenty-sixth North Carolina Regiment noticed that Sam and Keith Blalock seemed to have an unusually close relationship. When questioned, Keith explained that they were old friends who had grown up in the same town and were distantly related.
It was months before officers discovered that Sam’s real name was Malinda. When Keith signed up to fight the Yankees, his wife put on men’s attire and went with him to war.
Instead of being sent north where they could join the Federal troops, they were sent south. Keith was looked up to by the other men and soon was promoted to a brevet sergeant. His standing order to Sammy was to stay as close to him as possible. Keith devised a plan to be released from Confederate service by rolling naked in a bed of poison oak. The doctors feared it was small pox authorized his medical discharge. Malinda pleaded with Col. Vance to allow her to accompany her "brother" home to care for him. When her request was denied, she revealed that she was a woman. Vance had no choice but to dismiss her. Upon returning to Grandfather Mountain, Keith offered his services to the Union Army and became a recruiting officer for the 10th Michigan.
The Blalock’s became the "Bonnie and Clyde" of the western North Carolina mountains terrorizing both Unionists and Confederates. Murder, robbery and plundering became their calling cards and the entire time Malinda was by her husband's side.