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Part 1. Ladies distinguished for services among the freedmen and refugees.


Barbara Frietchie.

  • Her age
  • -- her patriotism -- Whittier's poem

Barbara Frietchie was an aged lady of Frederick, Maryland, of German birth, but intensely patriotic. In September, 1862, when Lee's army were on their way to Antietam, “StonewallJackson's corps passed through Frederick, and the inhabitants, though a majority of them were loyal, resolved not to provoke the rebels unnecessarily, knowing that they could make no effectual resistance to such a large force, and accordingly took down their flags; but Dame Barbara though nearly eighty years of age could not brook that the flag of the Union should be humbled before the rebel ensign, and from her upper window waved her flag, the only one visible that day in Frederick. Whittier has told the whole story so admirably that we cannot do better than to transfer his exquisite poem to our pages. Dame Barbara died in 1865.

Barbara Frietchie.

Up from the meadows rich with corn,
Clear in the cool September morn,
The clustered spires of Frederick stand,
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.
Round about them orchards sweep,
Apple and peach trees fruited deep,
Fair as a garden of the Lord
To the eyes of the famished rebel horde, [71]
On that pleasant morn of the early fall
When Lee marched over the mountain-wall--
Over the mountains winding down,
Horse and foot, into Frederick town.
Forty flags with their silver stars,
Forty flags with their crimson bars,
Flapped in the morning wind: the sun
Of noon looked down, and saw not one.
Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then,
Bowed with her fourscore years and ten;
Bravest of all in Frederick town,
She took up the flag the men hauled down;
In her attic-window the staff she set,
To show that one heart was loyal yet,
Up the street came the rebel tread,
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead.
Under his slouched hat left and right
He glanced; the old flag met his sight.
“Halt!” --the dust-brown ranks stood fast,
“Fire l” --out blazed the rifle-blast.
It shivered the window, pane and sash:
It rent the banner with seam and gash.
Quick, as it fell, from the broken staff
Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf;
She leaned far out on the window-sill,
And shook it forth with a royal will.
“Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,
But spare your country's flag,” she said.
A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of the leader came;
The nobler nature within him stirred
To life at that woman's deed and word; [72]
“Who touches a hair of yon gray head
Dies like a dog! March on!” he said.
All day long through Frederick street
Sounded the tread of marching feet:
All day long that free flag tost
Over the heads of the rebel host.
Ever its torn folds rose and fell
On the loyal winds that loved it well;
And through the hill-gaps sunset light
Shone over it with a warm good-night.
Barbara Frietchie's work is o'er,
And the Rebel rides on his raids no more
Honor to her I and let a tear
Fall, for her sake, on Stonewall's bier.
Over Barbara Frietchie's grave,
Flag of Freedom and Union, wave
Peace and order and beauty draw
Round thy symbol of light and law;
And ever the stars above look down
On thy stars below in Frederick town


Mrs. Hettie M. McEwen.

  • Of revolutionary lineage
  • -- her devotion to the Union -- her defiance of Isham Harris' efforts to have the Union flag lowered on her house -- Mrs. Hooper's poem

Mrs. McEwen is an aged woman of Nashville, Tennessee, of revolutionary stock, having had six uncles in the revolutionary war, four of whom fell at the battle of King's Mountain. Her husband, Colonel Robert H. McEwen, was a soldier in the war of 1812, as his father had been in the revolution. Her devotion to the Union, like that of most of those who had the blood of our revolutionary fathers in their veins is intense, and its preservation and defense were the objects of her greatest concern. Making a flag with her own hands, she raised it in the first movements of secession, in Nashville, and when through the treachery of Isham Harris and his co-conspirators, Tennessee was dragged out of the Union, and the secessionists demanded that the flag should be taken down, the brave old couple nailed it to the flag-staff, and that to the chimney of their house. The secessionists threatened to fire the house if it was not lowered, and the old lady armed with a shot-gun, undertook to defend it, and drove them away. She subsequently refused to give up her fire-arms on the requisition of the traitor Harris. Mrs. Lucy H. Hooper has told the story of the rebel efforts to procure the lowering of her flag very forcibly and truthfully:

Hetty McEwen.

Oh Hetty McEwen! Hetty McEwen!
What were the angry rebels doing,
That autumn day, in Nashville town,
They looked aloft with oath and frown, [74]

And saw the Stars and Stripes wave high
Against the blue of the sunny sky;
Deep was the oath, and dark the frown,
And loud the shout of “Tear it down!”

For over Nashville, far and wide,
Rebel banners the breeze defied,
Staining heaven with crimson bars;
Only the one old “Stripes and Stars”
Waved, where autumn leaves were strewing,
Bound the home of Hetty McEwen.

Hetty McEwen watched that day
Where her son on his death-bed lay;
She heard the hoarse and angry cry-
The blood of “76” rose high.
Out-flashed her eye, her cheek grew warm,
Up rose her aged stately form;
From her window, with steadfast brow,
She looked upon the crowd below.

Eyes all aflame with angry fire
Flashed on her in defiant ire,
And once more rose the angry call,
“Tear down that flag, or the house shall fall!”
Never a single inch quailed she,
Her answer rang out firm and free:
“Under the roof where that flag flies,
Now my son on his death-bed lies;
Born where that banner floated high, 'Neath its folds he shall surely die.
Not for threats nor yet for suing
Shall it fall,” said Hetty McEwen.

The loyal heart and steadfast hand
Claimed respect from the traitor band;
The fiercest rebel quailed that day
Before that woman stern and gray.
They went in silence, one by one-
Left her there with her dying son,
And left the old flag floating free
O'er the bravest heart in Tennessee, [75]

To wave in loyal splendor there
Upon that treason-tainted air,
Until the rebel rule was o'er
And Nashville town was ours once more.
Came the day when Fort Donelson
Fell, and the rebel reign was done;
And into Nashville, Buell, then,
Marched with a hundred thousand men,
With waving flags and rolling drums
Past the heroine's house he comes;
He checked his steed and bared his head,
“Soldiers I salute that flag,” he said;
“And cheer, boys, cheer!-give three times three
For the bravest woman in Tennessee!”


Other defenders of the flag.

Barbara Frietchie and Hettie McEwen were not the only women of our country who were ready to risk their lives in the defense of the National Flag.

Mrs. Effie Titlow, as we have already stated elsewhere, displayed the flag wrapped about her, at Middletown, Maryland, when the Rebels passed through that town in 1863. Early in 1861, while St. Louis yet trembled in the balance, and it seemed doubtful whether the Secessionists were not in the majority, Alfred Clapp, Esq., a merchant of that city, raised the flag on his own house, then the only loyal house for nearly half a mile, on that street, and nailed it there. His secession neighbors came to the house and demanded that it should be taken down. Never! said his heroic wife, afterwards president of the Union Ladies' Aid Society. The demand was repeated, and one of the secessionists at last said, “Well, if you will not take it down, I will,” and moved for the stairs leading to the roof. Quick as thought, Mrs. Clapp intercepted him. “You can only reach that flag over my dead body,” said she. Finding her thus determined, the secessionist left, and though frequent threats were muttered against the flag, it was not disturbed.

Mrs. Moore (Parson Brownlow's daughter) was another of these fearless defenders of the flag. In June, 1861, the Rebels were greatly annoyed at the sturdy determination of the Parson to keep the Stars and Stripes floating over his house; and delegation after delegation came to his dwelling to demand that they should be lowered. They were refused, and generally went off 76 [77] in a rage. On one of these occasions, nine men from a Louisiana regiment stationed at Knoxville, determined to see the flag humbled. Two men were chosen as a committee to proceed to the parson's house to order the Union ensign down. Mrs. Moore (the parson's daughter) answered the summons. In answer to her inquiry as to what was their errand, one said, rudely:

We have come to take down that d-d rag you flaunt from your roof — the Stripes and Stars.

Mrs. Moore, stepped back a pace or two within the door, drew a revolver from her dress pocket, and leveling it, answered:

Come on, sirs, and take it down!

The chivalrous Confederates were startled. “Yes, come on!” she said, as she advanced toward them. They cleared the piazza, and stood at bay on the wall.

“We'll go and get more men, and then d-d if it don't come down!”

“Yes, go and get more men-you are not men!” said the heroic woman, contemptuously, as the two backed from the place and disappeared.

Miss Alice Taylor, daughter of Mrs. Nellie Maria Taylor, of New Orleans, a young lady of great beauty and intelligence, possessed much of her mother's patriotic spirit. The flag was always suspended in one or another of the rooms of Mrs. Taylor's dwelling, and notwithstanding the repeated searches made by the Rebels it remained there till the city was occupied by Union troops. The beauty and talent of the daughter, then a young lady of seventeen, had made her very popular in the city. In 1860, she had made a presentation speech when a flag was presented to one of the New Orleans Fire Companies. In May, 1861, a committee of thirteen gentlemen called on Mrs. Taylor, and informed her that the ladies of the district had wrought a flag for the Crescent City (Rebel) regiment to carry on their march to Washington, and that the services of her daughter Alice were required to make the presentation speech. Of course [78] Mrs. Taylor's consent was not given, and the committee insisted that they must see the young lady, and that she must make the presentation address. She was accordingly called, and after hearing their request, replied that she would readily consent on two conditions. First, that her mother's permission should be obtained; and second, that the Stars and Stripes should wave around her, and decorate the arch over her head, as on the former occasion. The committee, finding that they could get no other terms, withdrew, vexed and mortified at their failure.

Mrs. Booth, the widow of Major Booth, who fell contending against fearful odds at Fort Pillow, at the time of the bloody massacre, a few weeks after presented the blood-stained flag of the fort which had been saved by one of the few survivors, to the remnant of the First Battalion of Major Booth's regiment, then incorporated with the Sixth United States Heavy Artillery, with these thrilling words, “Boys, I have just come from a visit to the hospital at Mound City. There I saw your comrades, wounded at the bloody struggle in Fort Pillow. There I found the flag-you recognize it! One of your comrades saved it from the insulting touch of traitors. I have given to my country all I had to give-my husband-such a gift! Yet I have freely given him for freedom and my country. Next to my husband's cold remains, the dearest object left to me in the world, is that flag — the flag that waved in proud defiance over the works of Fort Pillow! Soldiers! this flag I give to you, knowing that you will ever remember the last words of my noble husband, ‘never surrender the flag to traitors!’ ”

Colonel Jackson received from her hand — on behalf of his command — the blood-stained flag, and called upon his regiment to receive it as such a gift ought to be received. At that call, he and every man of the regiment fell upon their knees, and solemnly appealing to the God of battles, each one swore to avenge their brave and fallen comrades, and never, never surrender the flag to traitors.


Military heroines.

  • Those who donned the male attire not entitled to a place in our pages
  • -- Madame Turchin -- her exploits -- Bridget Divers -- “Michigan Bridget” or “Irish Biddy” -- she recovers her captain's body, and carries it on her horse for fifteen miles through rebel territory -- returns after the wounded, but is overtaken by the rebels while bringing then off and plundered of her ambulance horses -- others soon after provided -- Accompanies a regiment of the regular army to the plains after the war -- Mrs. Kady Brownell -- her skill as a sharp-shooter, and in sword exercise -- color Bearer in the Fifth Rhode Island Infantry -- a skillful nurse -- her husband wounded -- discharged from the army in 1863

The number of women who actually bore arms in the war, or who, though generally attending a regiment as nurses and vivandieres, at times engaged in the actual conflict was much larger than is generally supposed, and embraces persons of all ranks of society. Those who from whatever cause, whether romance, love or patriotism, and all these had their influence, donned the male attire and concealed their sex, are hardly entitled to a place in our record, since they did not seek to be known as women, but preferred to pass for men; but aside from these there were not a few who, without abandoning the dress or prerogatives of their sex, yet performed skillfully and well the duties of the other.

Among these we may name Madame Turchin, wife of General Turchin, who rendered essential service by her coolness, her thorough knowledge of military science, her undaunted courage, and her skill in command. She is the daughter of a Russian officer, and had been brought up in the camps, where she was the pet and favorite of the regiment up to nearly the time of her marriage to General Turchin, then a subordinate officer in that army. When the war commenced she and her husband had been for a few years residents of Illinois, and when her husband was commissioned colonel of a regiment of volunteers she prepared at once to follow him to the field. During the march into Tennessee in the spring of 1862, Colonel Turchin was taken seriously ill, and for some days was carried in an ambulance on the route. [80] Madame Turchin took command of the regiment during his illness, and while ministering kindly and tenderly to her husband, filled his place admirably as commander of the regiment. Her administration was so judicious that no complaint or mutiny was manifested, and her commands were obeyed with the utmost promptness. In the battles that followed, she was constantly under fire, now encouraging the men, and anon rescuing some wounded man from the place where he had fallen, administering restoratives and bringing him off to the field-hospital. When, in consequence of the “Athens affair,” Colonel Turchin was court-martialed and an attempt made by the conservatives to have him driven from the army, she hastened to Washington, and by her skill and tact succeeded in having the court-martial set aside and her husband promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General, and confounded his accusers by bringing his commission and the order to abandon the trial into court, just as the officers comprising it were about to find him guilty. In all the subsequent campaigns at the West, Madame Turchin was in the field, confining herself usually to ministrations of mercy to the wounded, but ready if occasion required, to lead the troops into action and always manifesting the most perfect indifference to the shot and shell or the whizzing minie balls that fell around her. She seemed entirely devoid of fear, and though so constantly exposed to the enemy's fire never received even a scratch.

Another remarkable heroine who, while from the lower walks of life, was yet faithful and unwearied in her labors for the relief of the soldiers who were wounded and who not unfrequently took her place in the ranks, or cheered and encouraged the men when they were faltering and ready to retreat, was Bridget Divers, better known as “Michigan Bridget,” or among Sheridan's men as “Irish Biddy.” A stout robust Irish woman, she accompanied the First Michigan Cavalry regiment in which her husband was a private soldier, to the field, and remained with that regiment and the brigade to which it belonged until the close [81] of the war. She became well known throughout the brigade for her fearlessness and daring, and her skill in bringing off the wounded. Occasionally when a soldier whom she knew fell in action, after rescuing him if he was only wounded, she would take his place and fight as bravely as the best. In two instances and perhaps more, she rallied and encouraged retreating troops and brought them to return to their position, thus aiding in preventing a defeat. Other instances of her energy and courage are thus related by Mrs. M. M. Husband, who knew her well.

“ In one of Sheridan's grand raids, during the latter days of the rebellion, she, as usual, rode with the troops night and day wearing out several horses, until they dropped from exhaustion. In a severe cavalry engagement, in which her regiment took a prominent part, her colonel was wounded, and her captain killed. She accompanied the former to the rear, where she ministered to his needs, and when placed in the cars, bound to City Point Hospitals, she remained with him, giving all the relief in her power, on that fatiguing journey, although herself almost exhausted, having been without sleep four days and nights. After seeing her colonel safely and comfortably lodged in the hospital, she took one night's rest, and returned to the front. Finding that her captain's body had not been recovered, it being hazardous to make the attempt, she resolved to rescue it, as” it never should be left on rebel soil. “So, with her orderly for sole companion, she rode fifteen miles to the scene of the late conflict, found the body she sought, strapped it upon her horse, rode back seven miles to an embalmer's, where she waited whilst the body was embalmed, then again strapping it on her horse, she rode several miles further to the cars in which, with her precious burden she proceeded to City Point, there obtained a rough coffin, and forwarded the whole to Michigan. Without any delay Biddy returned to her Regiment, told some officials, that wounded men had been left on the field from which she had rescued her Captain's body. They did not credit her tale, so she said,” Furnish [82] me some ambulances and I will bring them in. “The conveyances were given her, she retraced her steps to the deserted battlefield, and soon had some eight or ten poor sufferers in the wagons, and on their way to camp. The roads were rough, and their moans and cries gave evidence of intense agony. While still some miles from their destination, Bridget saw several rebels approaching, she ordered the drivers to quicken their pace, and endeavoured to urge her horse forward, but he baulked and refused to move. The drivers becoming alarmed, deserted their charge and fled to the woods, while the wounded men begged that they might not be left to the mercy of the enemy, and to suffer in Southern prisons. The rebels soon came up, Bridget plead with them to leave the sufferers unmolested, but they laughed at her, took the horses from the ambulances, and such articles of value as the men possessed, and then dashed off the way they came. Poor Biddy was almost desperate, darkness coming on, and with none to help her, the wounded men beseeching her not to leave them. Fortunately, an officer of our army rode up to see what the matter was, and soon sent horses and assistance to the party.”

When the war ended, Bridget accompanied her regiment to Texas, from whence she returned with them to Michigan, but the attractions of army life were too strong to be overcome, and she has since joined one of the regiments of the regular army stationed on the plains in the neighborhood of the Rocky Mountains.

Mrs. Kady Brownell, the wife of an Orderly Sergeant of the First and afterwards of the Fifth Rhode Island Infantry, who, like Madame Turchin was born in the camp, and was the daughter of a Scottish soldier of the British army, was another of these half-soldier heroines; adopting a semi-military dress, and practicing daily with the sword and rifle, she became as skillful a shot and as expert a swordsman as any of the company of sharp-shooters to which she was attached. Of this company she was the chosen color-bearer, and asking no indulgence, she marched with the [83] men, carrying the flag and participating in the battle as bravely as any of her comrades. In the first battle of Bull Run, she stood by her colors and maintained her position till all her regiment and several others had retreated, and came very near falling into the hands of the enemy. She was in the expedition of General Burnside to Roanoke Island and Newbern and by her coolness and intrepidity saved the Fifth Rhode Island from being fired upon by our own troops by mistake. Her husband was severely wounded in the engagement at Newbern, and she rescued him from his position of danger and having made him as comfortable as possible attempted to rescue others of the wounded, both rebel and Union troops. By some of the rebels, both men and women, she was grossly insulted, but she persevered in her efforts to help the wounded, though not without some heart-burnings for their taunts. Her husband recovering very slowly, and being finally pronounced unfit for service, she returned to Rhode Island with him after nursing him carefully for eighteen months or more, and received her discharge from the army.

There were very, probably, many others of this class of heroines who deserve a place in our record; but there is great difficulty in ascertaining the particulars of their history, and in some cases they failed to maintain that unsullied reputation without which courage and daring are of little worth.


The women of Gettysburg.

Those who have read Miss Georgiana Woolsey's charming narrative “Three weeks at Gettysburg,” in this volume, will have formed a higher estimate of the women of Gettysburg than of the men. There were some exceptions among the latter, some brave earnest-hearted men, though the farmers of the vicinity were in general both cowardly and covetous; but the women of the village have won for themselves a high and honorable record, for their faithfulness to the flag, their generosity and their devotion to the wounded.

Chief among these, since she gave her life for the cause, we must reckon Mrs. Jennie Wade. Her house was situated in the valley between Oak Ridge and Seminary Hill, and was directly in range of the guns of both armies. But Mrs. Wade was intensely patriotic and loyal, and on the morning of the third day of the battle, that terrible Friday, July 3, she volunteered to bake bread for the Union troops. The morning passed without more than an occasional shot, and though in the midst of danger, she toiled over her bread, and had succeeded in baking a large quantity. About two o'clock, P. M., began that fearful artillery battle which seemed to the dwellers in that hitherto peaceful valley to shake both earth and heaven. Louder and more deafening crashed the thunder from two hundred and fifty cannon, but as each discharge shook her humble dwelling, she still toiled on unterrified and only intent on her patriotic task. The rebels, who were nearest her had repeatedly ordered her to quit the 84 [85] premises, but she steadily refused. At length a shot from the rebel batteries struck her in the breast killing her instantly. A rebel officer of high rank was killed almost at the same moment near her door, and the rebel troops hastily constructing a rude coffin, were about to place the body of their commander in it for burial, when, in the swaying to and fro of the armies, a Union column drove them from the ground, and finding Mrs. Wade dead, placed her in the coffin intended for the rebel officer. In that coffin she was buried the next day amidst the tears of hundreds who knew her courage and kindness of heart.

Miss Carrie Sheads, the principal of Oak Ridge Female Seminary, is also deserving of a place in our record for her courage, humanity and true womanly tact. The Seminary buildings were within a few hundred yards of the original battle-field of the first day's fight, and in the course of the day's conflict, after the death of General Reynolds, the Union troops were driven by the greatly superior force of the enemy into the grounds of the Seminary itself, and most of them swept past it. The Ninety-seventh New York volunteer infantry commanded on that day by Lieutenant-Colonel, afterwards General Charles Wheelock, were surrounded by the enemy in the Seminary grounds, and after repeated attempts to break through the ranks of the enemy, were finally compelled to surrender. Miss Sheads who had given her pupils a holiday on the previous day, and had suddenly found herself transformed into the lady superintendent of a hospital, for the wounded were brought to the Seminary, at once received Colonel Wheelock and furnished him with the signal for surrender. The rebel commander demanded his sword, but the colonel refused to give it up, as it was a gift of friends. An altercation ensued and the rebel officer threatened to kill Colonel Wheelock. Mr. Sheads, Miss Carrie's father, interposed and endeavored to prevent the collision, but was soon pushed out of the way, and the rebel officer again presented his pistol to shoot his prisoner. Miss Sheads now rushed between them and remonstrated [86] with the rebel on his inhumanity, while she urged the colonel to give up his sword. He still refused, and at this moment the entrance of other prisoners attracted the attention of the rebel officer for a few moments, when Miss Sheads unbuckled his sword and concealed it in the folds of her dress unnoticed by the rebel officer. Colonel Wheelock, when the attention of his foe was again turned to him, said that one of his men who had passed out had his sword, and the rebel officer ordered him with the other prisoners to march to the rear. Five days after the battle the colonel, who had made his escape from the rebels, returned to the Seminary, when Miss Sheads returned his sword, with which he did gallant service subsequently.

The Seminary buildings were crowded with wounded, mostly rebels, who remained there for many weeks and were kindly cared for by Miss Sheads and her pupils. The rebel chief undertook to use the building and its observatory as a signal station for his army, contrary to Miss Sheads' remonstrances, and drew the fire of the Union army upon it by so doing. The buildings were hit many times and perforated by two shells. But amid the danger, Miss Sheads was as calm and self-possessed as in her ordinary duties, and soothed some of her pupils who were terrified by the hurtling shells. From the grounds of the Seminary she and several of her pupils witnessed the terrible conflict of Friday. The severe exertion necessary for the care of so large a number of wounded, for so long a period, resulted in the permanent injury of Miss Sheads' health, and she has been since that time an invalid. Two of her brothers were slain in the war, and two others disabled for life. Few families have made greater sacrifices in the national cause.

Another young lady of Gettysburg, Miss Amelia Harmon, a pupil of Miss Sheads, displayed a rare heroism under circumstances of trial. The house where she resided with her aunt was the best dwelling-house in the vicinity of Gettysburg, and about a mile west of the village, on Oak or Seminary Ridge. During [87] the fighting oh Wednesday (the first day of the battle) it was for a time forcibly occupied by the Union sharp-shooters who fired upon the rebels from it. Towards evening the Union troops having retreated to Cemetery Hill, the house came into possession of the rebels, who bade the family leave it as they were about to burn it, in consequence of its having been used as a fort. Miss Harmon and her aunt both protested against this, explaining that the occupation was forcible and not with their consent. The young lady added that her mother, not now living, was a Southern woman, and that she should blush for her parentage if Southern men would thus fire the house of defenseless females, and deprive them of a home in the midst of battle. One of the rebels, upon this, approached her and proposed in a confidential way, that if she would prove that she was not a renegade Southerner by hurrahing for the Southern Confederacy, he would see what could be done. “Never!” was the indignant reply of the truly loyal girl, “burn the house if you will! I will never do that, while the Union which has protected me and my friends, exists.” The rebels at once fired the house, and the brave girl and her aunt made their way to the home of friends, running the gauntlet of the fire of both armies, and both were subsequently unwearied in their labors for the wounded.


Loyal women of the South.

  • Names of loyal Southern women already mentioned
  • -- the loyal women of Richmond -- their abundant labors for Union prisoners -- loyal women of Charleston -- the Union league -- food and clothing furnished -- loyalty and heroism of some of the negro women -- loyal women of New Orleans -- the names of some of the most prominent -- loyal women of the mountainous districts of the south -- their ready aid to our escaping prisoners -- Miss Melvina Stevens -- malignity of some of the rebel women -- heroism of loyal women in East Tennessee, Northern Georgia and Alabama

We have already had occasion to mention some of those whose labors had been conspicuous, and especially Mrs. Sarah R. Johnson, Mrs. Nellie M. Taylor, Mrs. Grier, Mrs. Clapp, Miss Breckinridge, Mrs. Phelps, Mrs. Shepard Wells, and others. There was however, beside these, a large class, even in the chief cities of the rebellion, who not only never bowed their knee to the idol of secession, but who for their fidelity to principle, their patient endurance of proscription and their humanity and helpfulness to Union men, and especially Union prisoners, are deserving of all honor.

The loyal women of Richmond were a noble band. Amid obloquy, persecution and in some cases imprisonment (one of them was imprisoned for nine months for aiding Union prisoners) they never faltered in their allegiance to the old flag, nor in their sympathy and services to the Union prisoners at Libby and Belle Isle, and Castle Thunder. With the aid of twenty-one loyal white men in Richmond they raised a fund of thirteen thousand dollars in gold, to aid Union prisoners, while their gifts of clothing, food and luxuries, were of much greater value. Some of these ladies were treated with great cruelty by the rebels, and finally driven from the city, but no one of them ever proved false to loyalty. In Charleston, too, hot-bed of the rebellion as it was, there was a Union league, of which the larger proportion were women, some of them wives or daughters of prominent rebels, who dared everything, even their life, their liberty and 88 [89] their social position, to render aid and comfort to the Union soldiers, and to facilitate the return of a government of liberty and law. Had we space we might fill many pages with the heroic deeds of these noble women. Through their assistance, scores of Union men were enabled to make their escape from the prisons, some of them under fire, in which they were confined, and often after almost incredible sufferings, to find their way to the Union lines. Others suffering from the frightful jail fever or wasted by privation and wearisome marches with little or no food, received from them food and clothing, and were thus enabled to maintain existence till the time for their liberation came. The negro women were far more generally loyal than their mistresses, and their ready wit enabled them to render essential service to the loyal whites, service for which, when detected, they often suffered cruel tortures, whipping and sometimes death.

In New Orleans, before the occupation of the city by the Union troops under General Butler, no woman could declare herself a Unionist without great personal peril; but as we have seen there were those who risked all for their attachment to the Union even then. Mrs. Taylor was by no means the only outspoken Union woman of the city, though she may have been the most fearless. Mrs. Minnie Don Carlos, the wife of a Spanish gentleman of the city, was from the beginning of the war a decided Union woman, and after its occupation by Union troops was a constant and faithful visitor at the hospitals and rendered great service to Union soldiers. Mrs. Flanders, wife of Hon. Benjamin Flanders, and her two daughters, Miss Florence and Miss Fanny Flanders were also well known for their persistent Unionism and their abundant labors for the sick and wounded. Mrs. and Miss Carrie Wolfley, Mrs. Dr. Kirchner, Mrs. Mills, Mrs. Bryden, Mrs. Barnett and Miss Bennett, Mrs. Wibrey, Mrs. Richardson, Mrs. Hodge, Mrs. Thomas, Mrs. Howell, Mrs. Charles Howe of Key West, and Miss Edwards from Massachusetts, were all faithful and earnest workers in the hospitals throughout the war, and Union women [90] when their Unionism involved peril. Miss Sarah Chappell, Miss Cordelia Baggett and Miss Ella Gallagher, also merit the same commendation.

Nor should we fail to do honor to those loyal women in the mountainous districts and towns of the interior of the South. Our prisoners as they were marched through the towns of the South always found some tender pitying hearts, ready to do something for their comfort, if it were only a cup of cold water for their parched lips, or a corn dodger slyly slipped into their hand. Oftentimes these humble but patriotic women received cruel abuse, not only from the rebel soldiers, but from rebel Southern women, who, though perhaps wealthier and in more exalted social position than those whom they scorned, had not their tenderness of heart or their real refinement. Indeed it would be difficult to find in history, even among the fierce brutal women of the French revolution, any record of conduct more absolutely fiendish than that of some of the women of the South during the war. They insisted on the murder of helpless prisoners; in some instances shot them in cold blood themselves, besought their lovers and husbands to bring them Yankee skulls, scalps and bones, for ornaments, betrayed innocent men to death, engaged in intrigues and schemes of all kinds to obtain information of the movements of Union troops, to convey it to the enemy, and in every manifestation of malice, petty spite and diabolical hatred against the flag under which they had been reared, and its defenders, they attained a bad pre-eminence over the evil spirits of their sex since the world began. It is true that these were not the characteristics of all Southern, disloyal women, but they were sufficiently common to make the rebel women of the south the objects of scorn among the people of enlightened nations. Many of these patriotic loyal women, of the mountainous districts, rendered valuable aid to our escaping soldiers, as well as to the Union scouts who were in many cases their own kinsmen. Messrs. Richardson and Browne, the Tribune correspondents so long imprisoned, [91] have given due honor to one of this class, “the nameless heroine” as they call her, Miss Melvina Stevens, a young and beautiful girl who from the age of fourteen had guided escaping Union prisoners past the most dangerous of. the rebel garrisons and outposts, on the borders of North Carolina and East Tennessee, at the risk of her liberty and life, solely from her devotion to the national cause. The mountainous regions of East Tennessee, Northern Alabama and Northern Georgia were the home of many of these loyal and energetic Union women-women, who in the face of privation, persecution, death and sometimes outrages worse than death, kept up the courage and patriotic ardor of their husbands, brothers and lovers, and whose lofty self-sacrificing courage no rebel cruelties or indignities could weaken or abate.


Miss Hetty A. Jones.

By Horatio G. Jones, Esq.
  • Miss Jones' birth and lineage
  • -- she aids in equipping the companies of Union soldiers organized in her own neighborhood -- her services in the Filbert Street Hospital -- death of her brother -- visit to Fortress Monroe -- she determines to go to the front and attaches herself to the Third Division, Second Corps, Hospital at City Point -- has an attack of pleurisy -- on her recovery resumes her labors -- is again attacked and dies on the 21st of December, 1864 -- her happy death -- mourning of the convalescent soldiers of the Filbert Street Hospital over her death

Among the thousands of noble women who devoted their time and services to the cause of our suffering soldiers during the rebellion there were few who sacrificed more of comfort, money or health, than Miss Hetty A. Jones of Roxborough, in the city of Philadelphia. She was a daughter of the late Rev. Horatio Gates Jones, D. D., for many years pastor of the Lower Merion Baptist Church, and a sister of the Hon. J. Richter Jones, who was Colonel of the Fifty-eighth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, and who was killed at the head of his regiment, near Newbern, N. C., in May, 1863, and grand-daughter of Rev. Dr. David Jones, a revolutionary chaplain, eminently patriotic.

At the commencement of the war Miss Jones freely gave of her means to equip the companies which were organized in her own neighborhood, and when the news came of the death of her brave oldest brother, although for a time shocked by the occurrence, she at once devoted her time and means to relieve the wants of the suffering. She attached herself to the Filbert Street Hospital in Philadelphia, and thither she went for weeks and months, regardless of her own comfort or health. Naturally of a bright and cheerful disposition, she carried these qualities into her work, and wherever she went she dispensed joy and [93] gladness, and the sick men seemed to welcome her presence. One who had abundant means of observing, bears testimony to the power of her brave heart and her pleasant winning smile. He says, “I have often seen her sit and talk away the pain, and make glad the heart of the wounded.” Nor did she weary in well-doing. Her services at the hospital were constant and efficient, and when she heard of any sick soldier in her village she would visit him there and procure medicine and comforts for him.

In the fall of 1864 she accompanied a friend to Fortress Monroe to meet his sick and wounded son, and thus was led to see more of the sufferings of our brave patriots. On returning home she expressed a wish to go to the front, and although dissuaded on account of her delicate health, she felt it to be her duty to go, and accordingly on the 2d of November, 1864, she started on her errand of mercy, to City Point, Va., the Headquarters of General Grant. The same untiring energy, the same forgetfulness of self, the same devotion to the sick and wounded, were exhibited by her in this new and arduous field of labor. She became attached to the Third Division Second Corps Hospital of the Army of the Potomac, and at once secured the warm affections of the soldiers.

She continued her work with unremitting devotion until the latter part of November, when she had an attack of pleurisy, caused no doubt, by her over exertions in preparing for the soldiers a Thanksgiving Dinner. On her partial recovery she wrote to a friend, describing her tent and its accommodations. She said: “When I was sick, I did want some home comforts; my straw bed was very hard. But even that difficulty was met. A kind lady procured some pillows from the Christian Commission, and sewed them together, and made me a soft bed. But I did not complain, for I was so much better of than the sick boys.” The italics are ours, not hers. She never put her own ease before her care for “the sick boys.” [94]

She not only attended to the temporal comforts of the soldiers, but she was equally interested in their spiritual welfare, and was wont to go to the meetings of the Christian Commission. Her letters home and to her friends, were full of details of these meetings, and her heart overflowed with Christian love as she spoke of the brave soldiers rising in scores to ask for the prayers of God's people.

She continued her labors, as far as possible, on her recovery, but was unable to do all that her heart prompted her to attempt. She was urged by her friends at home to return and recruit her strength. In her brief journal she alludes to this, but says, “Another battle is expected; and then our poor crippled boys will need all the care that we can give. God grant that we may do something for them!”

Two days after writing this, in her chilly, leaking tent, she was prostrated again. She was unwilling at first that her family should be made uneasy by sending for them. But her disease soon began to make rapid and alarming progress. She consented that they should be summoned. But on the 21st of December, 1864, the day after this consent was obtained, she passed away to her rest. Like a faithful soldier, she died at her post.

She was in early life led to put her trust in Christ, and was baptized about thirty years ago, by her father, on confession of her faith. She continued from that time a loved member of the Lower Merion Baptist church. In her last hours she still rested with a calm, child-like composure on the finished work of Christ. Though called to die, with none of her own kindred about her, she was blessed with the presence of her Lord, who, having loved his own, loves them unto the end.

Her remains were laid beside those of her father, in the cemetery of the Baptist church at Roxborough, Pa., on Friday, the 30th of December, 1864. A number of the convalescent soldiers from the Filbert Street Hospital in the city, with which she was connected, attended her funeral; and her bier was borne by four [95] of those who had so far recovered as to be able to perform this last office for their departed friend.

Her memory will long be cherished by those who knew her best, and tears often shed over her grave by the brave soldiers whom she nursed in their sickness.

The soldiers of the Filbert Street Hospital, on receiving the intelligence of her death, met and passed resolutions expressive of their high esteem and reverence for her who had been their faithful and untiring friend, and deep sympathy with her friends in their loss.

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