Welcome to the Falmouth Library's page designed to shed light on the role women played in the American Civil War. As we approach the Sesquicentennial of the War, we will be sharing resources and information about this topic, focusing specifically on the role Maine women played during the war.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mary Brown: Female soldier?

Mary Ann Berry from Lewiston, Maine, was 21 years old when she met Ivory Brown from Parsonsfield, Maine and married him in 1861, the year the Civil War began. He decided to enlist with the 31st Maine Infantry Regiment in 1864 and Mary decided she would go with him. Not surprisingly, Mary was rejected by the army. She persisted, however, and took on clerical jobs for the regiment and eventually she went south with the regiment as a field nurse. Records of her service cannot be found, but in 1930 she was interviewed by a reporter and she told her story to him. Besides nursing and caring for the soldiers, she told the reporter that she also fought beside them. When asked, "Did you carry a musket and fight with the Union men?" she replied, "Yes, sir. I carried a musket - a 16 shooter [possibly a Henry Repeater rifle] and a sword and a dirk, too, to fight my way through like the rest of them." Mary was standing right next to her brother-in-law at the siege of Petersburg when he was killed. It is possible that Mary was disguised as a soldier, since General Grant had issued orders that no women be allowed at the front. Ivory was also injured at Petersburg and Mary was there to care for him - first at the field hospital and then later, at Harewood Hospital, where she also cared for other soldiers. Ivory was discharged in June of 1865 and the couple went home to Brownfield, Maine. Ivory died in 1902. Mary outlived him by 34 years, dying in 1936 at age 96.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Battle of Gettysburg brings a brother and sister together

Mary Hunt from Gorham, Maine, married and moved with her banker husband, T. Duncan Carson, to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1856. On the eve of the famous battle of Gettysburg, Mr. Carson was busy moving the assets of the Gettysburg National Bank (shown here) to safer grounds. Mary, on her part, gathered 19 women and children, 2 dogs and a cat and moved into the bank's vault for safety.

She was unaware that, as she was seeking safety from shelling, her brother, Charles, was marching through town with his regiment, the 5th Maine Battery. Supposedly, as they passed near the bank he said to his comrades, "If ever I am to be wounded, it should be here, for my sister lives over there." He indicated the bank building and it's nearby residence. The battle was fiercely fought during the first day and did not go well for Union troops. Lt. Hunt was indeed injured and his companions brought him to the bank. He was taken into the vault where a neighbor/doctor operated on him, removing a bullet from his leg. Mary took care of him and many other wounded soldiers for weeks after the battle. Charles recovered and went home to Maine. After the war he studied to become a doctor and was later appointed the first director of the Maine General Hospital (now known as Maine Medical Center) in Portland, Maine.