Black History Month, Women Of The War

JPK Huson 1863

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#1
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Susie King Taylor's
memoirs , only known published recollection of the experiences of an African American nurse during the Civil War. In a letter to Taylor, reproduced in her book, Lt. Colonel Trowbridge, commander of the regiment, praises her "unselfish devotion and service through more than three long years of war in which the 33d Regiment bore a conspicuous part in the great conflict for human liberty and the restoration of the Union."

Ann Stokes, formerly enlaved. ' Adopted ' by the Sisters of the Holy Cross on the U.S.S. Red Rover, hospital ship. Stokes was first black nurse ( I think- am taking much of these short bios on faith, hope the subjects are done justice to )

Lizzie Hoffman, enlisted in the 45th U.S. Colored Infantry, single black regiment from western Virginia Lizzie was arrested along with her entire company while aboard a steamer. She was sent finally to the Central Guard House in Washington, found out to be a woman.

Martha Lewis disguised as a white man and served for eight months in the 8th New York Cavalry.
She is reported to have ridden and fought alongside her male counterparts.
In April, 1865 ( was post-Appomattox ) read she worked continuing to free enslaved, not sure the story.

Four black nurses Red Rover
Alice Kennedy
Sarah Kinno
Ellen Campbell
Betsy Young.
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Mary Elizabeth Bowser famously, spy, Confederate White House in Richmond. She was able to pass herself off as an illiterate enslaved woman while using her photographic memory to gain access to important information.
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Marie Touvestre was a free black woman who worked for a Confederate engineer near the harbor in Norfolk, Virginia. She overheard plans being made for the building of the iron side C.S.S. Virginia and risked her life to take that information to the Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles in Washington.

Cathay Williams enlisted and served in the 38th U.S. Infantry . She may have been the first black woman to serve in the U.S. Regular Army and as a Buffalo Soldier.

Charlotte Forten (1837-1914)

Charlotte Forten - teachers were needed to teach, and now, the black population too long denied an education. woman, she brought intense As a black woman, she hoped to find kinship with the freedmen, though her own education set her apart from the formerly enslaved. She stayed on St. Helena Island for two years, succumbed to ill health and had to return north. In 1864, she published "Life on the Sea Islands" in The Atlantic Monthly, which brought the work of the Port Royal Experiment to the attention of Northern
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readers.


Sojourner Truth , abolitionist and women’s rights activist. Born enslaved in New York State, she suffered the loss of three children ‘ sold away ‘ . Freeing herself, Truth embraced religion and became involved in reform and abolitionist work. She collected supplies for black regiments during the Civil War and immersed herself in advocating for freedpeople during the Reconstruction period. Truth was a powerful and impassioned speaker whose legacy of feminism and racial equality still resonates today. “Ain’t I a Woman?”, from the Ohio, 1851 convention continues to be her best known, most loved speech and a gift to the ages.
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Elizabeth Keckleyborn enslaved in Dinwiddie, Virginia, February 1818. Purchasing her freedom from a down-at-the heels family who made her buy herself, her mother and her son at great expense, she became a dressmaker for Washington’s elite. Keckley was a confidante to Mary Todd Lincoln- their friendship shattered after Keckely included Mary in her 1868. A brilliant designer, Keckley was intensely private herself. She died in 1907 in Washington, D.C.

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman became famous as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad during the turbulent 1850s. Born a slave on Maryland’s eastern shore, she endured the harsh existence of a field hand, including brutal beatings. In 1849 she fled slavery, leaving her husband and family behind in order to escape. Despite a bounty on her head, she returned to the South at least 19 times to lead her family and hundreds of other slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad. Tubman also served as a scout, spy and nurse during the Civil War.
http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/harriet-tubman
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I'm sorry, one of my favorite photographs. Have always felt the dogs became so bored waiting for the photo to be taken they went to sleep!

Boy, tough to encompass all the roles if we wish to commemorate contributions made by black women during the Civil War. The thing is, single threads tend to be little bios- most here have threads but so what? This is a comprehensive celebration, If white women had extreme lengths to go, achieving their purposes black women not only had those same extremes but first ran the equivalent of 5 marathons just to catch up to ' Go '.

No apologies, they did it then showed up in places like Beaufort, South Carolina, for instance. I'm using it as an example. Displaced by war, taking their futures into their own hands these women and their families found Union lines there. Their own freedoms. What's very cool about Beaufort? When told to once again toil for free? The answer was no, thank you. Er, just came from there, happy to help. Here's the deal. You Northerners are clueless about running plantations. We know an awful lot. If you would like to pay us, we will run these places, work the fields, everyone will be benefit. "
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Some insisted on pushing beyond into teaching, nursing, fighting ( for Heaven's sake ), earning what was possible as laundresses with the army, cooks and seamstresses. They went ' pop '. Some starved. When men enlisted with the USCT no provisions were made for wives and children. I can't find where they would have found a roof- possibly the Freedmen's villages so quickly constructed. Still, a huge contribution for a woman, her husband.
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Hopefully this will not be a scant thread, apologize if it is inadequate. Obviously will miss so, so many!


cont.........
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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#2
Apologize if this seems poorly put together. The thing is, when a topic is extremely huge it is difficult, gluing it together? SO, many black women who made themselves heard during those years- and thousands, hundreds of thousands whose voices were not heard but shaped History. Impossible! This is a small representation, to be sure.

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Hospital, Nashville. Terrific photograph, hospital workers inclusive of black nurses.

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Post war, as are a few, " Rhoda Ray "

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Since she has been posted ( Pinterest ) as being Creole, have no reason to disbelieve this but also no source.

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She is in a group of photos in National Archives, with Sanitary Commission workers delivering coffee and food to soldiers.

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There was a huge distance between the Christian Commission and Sanitary Commission, according to a few sources.

Photos LoC, National Archives and Pinterest
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#6
So many women, so many voices. Cannot believe I did not include Harriet. One of the most harrowing days I've ever spent, reading her words. Still haunts me.

Harriet Jacobs. Makes me wish I wore a plethora of hats so I could take all of them off to you;

Her words tell the story better than any bio.' Enslaved ' tells nothing. Hid from an abusive white man/alleged ' owner ' of human beings for seven years, seven, in a crawl space mere feet away from discovery, she finally escaped. Her story of pursuit into free air by this- whateverhewas is horrendous, assisted by the abysmal FSA. Harriet claimed her dignity, worked to ensure other ex-enslaved were able to claim theirs, throughout. She become a tireless voice of black women, ex-enslaved, racial equality and grace.
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http://docsouth.unc.edu/fpn/jacobs/jacobs.html
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#7
Black women in History July, 1863

Lydia Hamilton Smith

She belonged to a downtrodden race, for she was a colored woman… She was poor, yet she had a little money saved up, a trifle at a time, by years of labor. From a white neighbor she hired a ramshackle wagon with which she did hauling, and a horse (who) was a pile of bones, else probably he would not have been in Adams County at all but mounted by a Confederate cavalryman. Lydia circled widely through the farm section around Bendersville and York Springs. Eloquently she told of the tens of thousands of suffering men: “ I thank de good Lawd that put it in my heart to try to do something for these poor creatures.” When she could get donations of delicacies and suitable clothing, she accepted them. When donations failed, she bought till she had spend the very last penny of her little hoard… But now the wagon was heaped high to its full capacity, and she turned toward the hospital miles away… And then Lydia, feeling no the weariness from many miles of travel, began to distribute the articles she had brought-to Union soldiers, of course? No! Union and Confederate lay side by side, and that noble colored woman saw not in the latter the warriors who were striving to perpetuate the slavery of he race. She saw only suffering humanity

J. Howard Wert at Gettysburg, Adams County PA, reporter, Harrisburg Telegraph

Lydia Hamilton Smith is one of my favorite Gettysburg people, hands down.



Elizabeth Butler was captured by Confederates as so many fled the invasion. While being herded like so many cattle out of town Elizabeth took a wild chance and ran into her church, as the captives were forced past. She huddled in the belfry, the battle raging beneath and around her, only coming to safety when the Southern army withdrew days later.

Elizabeth Brien,
wife of Abraham, of the famous little farm Pickett's Charge managed to run straight over had her happiness further impeded in July, 1863. Why further impeded? It was a very marriage, Abraham resenting Elizabeth's son, refusing to live amicably with him. Elizabeth faced losing home, marriage and being taken back to a captive state in July, 1863. We know she was not captured- and we know she also found the further strength to resist another kind of captivity.

Maggie Palm

She lived up Long Lane, back of the old fair grounOn this occasion she was attacked by a group of men who made the attempt to kidnap her and take her south where they expected to sell her and derive quite a profit. She was a powerful woman, and they would have, from the sale, derived quite a profit. These men succeeded in tying Mag’s hands…She was fighting them as best as she could with her hands tied. She would attempt to slow them and succeeded in one instance in catching [an attackers] thumb in her mouth and bit the thumb off. John Karseen, who was crippled and ran a novelty shop on Baltimore Street, happened along at just the right time and by using his crutch was able to assist Mag in her fight with these kidnappers and drove them off and freed her from her bonds.

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Mrs. Basil Biggs,
wife of the man hired to disinter remains, and thousands of them, of Union soldiers, Mrs. Biggs-whose name must please be somewhere- was his helpmate and solemn partner as he performed this last service in Pennsylvania heat for those who would never leave that town. Basil had fled the invasion but returned.
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Rebecca Johnson,
another name we have from History, a black wife, mother and witness to the black community's terror that July, 1863. And their resistance, those who found the ability to flee, hide and return.

Mrs. Isaac Smith,
left an account of being the only ' colored ' person in a cellar, hiding from the Confederate army as it flooded the town, desperately hoping no one gave her up to the enemy. No one did, in fact helping her to remain hidden until after all danger was past.

By no means are these all the accounts in existence from black women living in and around Gettysburg, Adams County, Pennsylvania in June and July, 1863. There will be more, will surely find them.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#8
Abby Fisher
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born in the 1830’s in South Carolina, flamingly talented cook, turned her gifts into the first cookbook authored by a black woman- and a huge success. From 1870, Mobile Alabama through Missouri to San Fransico, California Abbey raised 11 children, wrote a cookbook to enormous acclaim,was a caterer and business woman with her husband, making pickles and preserves- and became a legend.



Edmonia Lewis,
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the first professional African-American sculptor, was born in Ohio or New York in 1843 or 1845. Her father was a free African-American and her mother a Chippewa Indian. She is the first woman of African-American and Native American heritage to achieve international fame and recognition as a sculptor in the fine arts world

“ There is nothing so beautiful as the free forest. To catch a fish when you are hungry, cut the boughs of a tree, make a fire to roast it, and eat it in the open air, is the greatest of all luxuries. I would not stay a week pent up in cities, if it were not for my passion for art “


Dr. Eliza Ann Grier
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“ Eliza Grier wrote to the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania in December of 1890 to inquire about the cost of medical school there, and whether there would be any work she could do that would not interfere with her studies. "I have no money and no source from which to get it," she said, "only as I work for every dollar." Grier had spent seven years working and studying to become a teacher at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, but she believed she could be of most benefit to her race by getting a medical education. She asked the dean of the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania whether "any possible way...might be provided for an emancipated slave to receive any help into so lofty a profession." She was admitted to the college, and alternated coursework with periods of working to earn tuition. She completed her studies in 1897, and later that year was licensed to practice medicine in Fulton County, Georgia. “

https://www.nlm.nih.gov/changingthefaceofmedicine/physicians/biography_132.html
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#11
Please excuse me taking shameless advantage of the thread to bring some children into the conversation. Not famous and parted from their names these young women would have had a front-row seat to History as a tsunami of change over took our country. Aren't they dear? My daughter is in her 20's- I haven't recovered and it shows.

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JPK Huson 1863

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#12
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I've often wondered who she is. The books piled on her table, precise as a pin dress, starched and blindingly clean cap- she's sweet, too. I think this is a ' person of consequence ' photograph, orphaned. Please excuse my lack of History- if anyone knows, feel free to give her a name.
 

luinrina

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What a wonderful thread, Annie - so many courageous women of color in difficult times. I can only take off my hat to their contributions before, during and after the war.

Thanks for compiling these short bios and pictures. A monument for all the nameless who fought and/or gave their all for their freedom.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#16
You can learn a lot in 2 years- since this thread have come across so many terrific images, stories and biographies it's clear there's around 10 pages of thread. And that's just the women whose names we know.

What you have to love is quite a few of these images pre-date the war by 10 years.
 
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#17
This is awesome! So many beautiful, intelligent, brave women, and they should never ever be forgotten. Here is another image of Sojourner Truth, one of my favorites. What gentle strength in her face.
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