Catherine Stratton Ladd

Civil War Nurse and Educator Catherine Stratton was born in Richmond Virginia on October 28, 1808. While she was still an infant, her father, James Stratton, an Irish immigrant, fell off a boat and drowned. Catherine was educated in Richmond at the same school attended by poet Edgar Allen Poe and they were playmates. Catherine Stratton Ladd At the age of 20, Catherine married George Williamson Livermore Ladd, an artist who had studied with Samuel F. B. Morse in Boston. The Ladds first lived in Charleston, South Carolina, where George painted portraits. It was there that Catherine began to write stories, poems and essays, particularly about art and education. These were published in Southern periodicals, under such pseudonyms as Minnie…

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Cathay Williams

Buffalo Soldier in the American West Cathay Williams is the first African American female to enlist, and the only documented to serve in the United States Army, posing as a man under the pseudonym William Cathay. Orders were soon given to transfer the new recruits to the west, where they would join the army’s fight against the Indians. Cathay and her fellow black comrades were named Buffalo Soldiers by the Plains Indians because they were fierce fighters, and they had short curly hair like the buffalo. Image: Female Buffalo Soldier William Jennings, Artist Cathay Williams’ story is as unique as they come. She was born a slave near Independence, Missouri, in 1842. Her father was free, but her mother was…

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Florena Budwin

Female Prisoner in the Civil War With the Civil War raging around the country, Philadelphian Florena Budwin decided not to let her husband go off to war without her. She disguised herself as a man and enlisted alongside him in the Union Army, and maintained her disguise throughout her active service. Unfortunately, both the Budwins were captured during fighting by the Confederate Army and sent to Andersonville Prison in southern Georgia, the Confederacy’s most notorious prisoner of war camp. Andersonville was built in early 1864 after Confederate officials decided to move the large number of Federal prisoners in and around Richmond, Virginia to a place of greater security and more abundant food. The first prisoners were brought to Andersonville in…

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Laura Ratcliffe

Confederate Spy in Virginia Known as a local beauty, Virginian Laura Ratcliffe saved the life of the Grey Ghost, Colonel John Singleton Mosby, in 1863. Among her many admirers was the famous cavalry general J.E.B. Stuart. She was also the sixth cousin of General Robert E. Lee. As a Confederate spy, Ratcliffe is a prime example of the brave women on both sides of the conflict who put themselves at risk to help their cause. Laura Ratcliffe was born May 28, 1836 at Fairfax City, Virginia to Francis Fitzhugh and Ann McCarty (Lee) Ratcliffe. Following the death of her father, Laura moved with her mother and two sisters to Frying Pan (later Herndon) in Fairfax County, just south of Washington,…

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Abigail Hopper Gibbons

Civil War Nurse and Social Reformer Abigail Hopper Gibbons (1801–1893) was a schoolteacher, abolitionist and social reformer, who assisted in founding numerous programs and societies during and following the Civil War. She grew up in a Quaker family, and her father Isaac Hopper spent much of his time and money aiding runaway slaves. Gibbons spent much of her life working for social reforms, including prison reform, welfare and civil rights, and a nurse during the Civil War. Image: Gibbons is in the center of the front row Abigail Hopper was born in Philadelphia in 1801, the third of ten children. Her father, Isaac Hopper, spent much time and money harboring runaway slaves on their way to freedom. Her father was…

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City of Charleston

Hello, my name is Charleston, and I live in the beautiful state of South Carolina, one of the thirteen original colonies in America, and I want to tell you my story. Some of it is not pleasant, but it is my history, and I must tell it true. I’m a rather large woman, but I like to think I’m well-proportioned. The Bombardment of Fort Sumter Fort Sumter burning in Charleston Harbor on April 12, 1861 My history is long and complicated, so I will try to hit the high spots. And I will break it down into time periods, so as not to give you a great big dose at one time. My language may be a little “home-fried” at…

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Lucy Nickolson Lindsey

Of all the spunky ladies I love to write about, Lucy Nickolson Lindsey of Missouri was one of the spunkiest. She was difficult to research. I could find nothing about her birth and death, but I did find lots of information about one incident in her life. And I just have to tell you about it. During the Civil War, Missouri was a border state. Yankees and Rebels commingled all over the state, and it was difficult to tell friend from foe. Missouri was under martial law, and the Provost Marshals ruled absolutely. All legal processes and civil rights we think of as normal today no longer existed. In August 1861, Confederate General Sterling Price occupied Springfield, Missouri. There existed…

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Jennie Wade

Civilian Killed at the Battle of Gettysburg Seamstress Jennie Wade (1843–July 3, 1863) was the only Gettysburg civilian killed directly during the Battle of Gettysburg. Jennie and her mother were visiting her sister, Georgia Anna Wade McClellan, at 528 Baltimore Street to assist her and her newborn child. On July 1, 1863, during the first day’s fighting, more than 150 bullets hit the McClellan house. But it was not until July 3 that tragedy struck. Mary Virginia Wade was born in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in May 1843. When Jennie was a child, her father worked for a man named Johnston Hastings Skelly, who had a son of the same name. He was called Jack. Jack and Jennie were always friends, but…

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Emma Sansom

Confederate Heroine from Alabama Emma Sansom was living on her family’s farm near Gadsden, Alabama in the spring of 1863. the Sansom household consisted of Emma’s widowed mother, sister Jennie, 24, brother Rufus, 22, recuperating from wounds he had received in battle, and Emma, 15. She was described as an attractive young girl, with blue eyes and auburn hair. Image: To the Lost Ford By John Paul Strain Emma Sansom and General Forrest In April 1863, Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his cavalrymen entered northern Alabama to pursue Union General Abel Streight, who was on a raid to destroy the Confederate railroad near Chattanooga, the only source of supply and communications to General Braxton Bragg’s army in middle Tennessee….

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Solomon Northup

Solomon Northup was a free Black who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. I will allow him to tell parts of the story from his memoir that was published in 1853. Though the language – his or the editor’s – is stilted, it was the writing style of the times. Please excuse my cobbling together quotes that aren’t necessarily in succession, because I don’t want to interrupt the flow of the story. Solomon was born in 1808 in Minerva, New York. His father had been a slave, but had been freed upon the death of his master. As a boy, Solomon worked on his father’s farm, and spent his free time reading and learning to play the violin. In 1829,…

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