Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Mary Kneeland - A Spy in the enemy's Midst
Mary Austin was a both a nurse and spy during the Civil War. Born in Byron, Maine, she married Dr. John Kneeland of New Hampshire in 1854. The couple moved to eastern Tennessee, hoping the warmer climate would be good for his health. Unfortunately, he died the following year, anyway. Mary remained in Tennessee, and soon found herself in a contested area - occupied by both Union and Confederate forces. She took it upon herself to inform Union forces of the movements and plans of the Confederates when she could, riding miles through enemy held territory. She also cared for and hid Union soldiers separated from their units or escaped from the Confederates, from time to time. At one point Confederate General Vaughan came to arrest her, but she entertained him with some fine blackberry wine. He said, "Madam, I came here to have you arrested but you have been so kind I shall not do it."