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.

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