Vengeance at Okolona

Cavalry Battle in the Mississippi Backwoods Standing at six feet two inches tall, broad-shouldered, athletic and powerful, General Nathan Bedford Forrest towered over most men of his era. As his personal weapons, Forrest carried a Colt 36 caliber revolver and an 1840 model cavalry saber, which he sharpened to a razor’s edge. Forrest did not send men into battle; he led them. Image: Vengeance at Okolona by John Paul Strain Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest Battle of Okolona, Mississippi February 22, 1864 Backstory In late January 1864, General Ulysses S. Grant sent General William Tecumseh Sherman with 20,000 troops to Meridian, Mississippi, an important railroad center. On February 1, Grant ordered seven thousand cavalry under General William Sooy Smith to…

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Mary Anna Cooke Thompson

Portland’s First Woman Physician An advocate for women’s rights throughout her life, she first broke through the barriers to women in medicine while she was raising a family in Illinois. Later honored as one of Oregon’s pioneer doctors, Mary Anna Cooke Thompson practiced medicine in Oregon for more than forty years. Image: Dr. Mary Anna Cooke Thompson Courtesy Joseph Gaston Portland: Its History and Builders Early Years Mary Anna Cooke was born February 14, 1825 in New York City. Her parents, Horatio and Anna Bennett Cooke, were both from England. The Cooke family moved to Chicago, Illinois when Mary was twelve.

Madame Turchin

A Russian Princess in the American Civil War Nadine Lvova Turchin was the wife of Union General John Basil Turchin. During the American Civil War, she traveled with her husband throughout the war and became widely known in the Union Army as Madame Turchin. Early Years Princess Nadezhda Lvova was born in Russia in 1826. Her father was a colonel in the Russian Army, and she grew up in army camps but received an excellent education. She read extensively and became proficient in four languages. Ivan Turchaninov was born into a Cossack family in Russia and attended the Imperial Military School in St. Petersburg; he fought in Hungary and in the Crimean War. Marriage On May 10, 1856, when Nadezhda…

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Black Women Writers of the 19th Century

African-American Women Authors in Antebellum America Image: Middle-class black women who loved to read did not have many role models. Credit: Jeffrey Green Prior to the Civil War, the majority of African-Americans living in the United States were held in bondage. Although law forbade them, many found a way to learn to read and write. More African-Americans than we could have imagined published poetry, biographies, novels and short stories.

Emma Green

Young Nurse in a Large Military Hospital Image: Nurse Emma Green as played by Hannah James in the PBS film, Mercy Street. Mansion House Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia Mercy Street In January 2016, PBS broadcast Mercy Street, a six-part series about the James Green family who lived in Alexandria, Virginia during the Civil War. The Greens owned several properties in the area, including the opulent Mansion House Hotel. James’ teenaged daughter Emma Green served as a nurse there. The producers of the film also used the writings of nurse Mary Phinney who worked with Emma at the Mansion House Hospital. Early Years Emma Frances Green was the daughter of James Green, the wealthiest man in Alexandria, Virginia. Green owned several…

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Fidelia Bridges

She Painted the Art in Nature Fidelia Bridges was one of the most renowned artists of her time and one of the very few women artists who supported herself with her work. She was known for her delicately detailed nature paintings, which were published in books and magazines. Her paintings convey the joy she felt in birds and flowers. Image: Fidelia Bridges Dressed for a painting excursion c. 1864 She wore black in the winter, gray linen in the summer. Note the shorter dress with pants underneath. This style of dress is called the Bloomer costume, named for its designer, feminist Amelia Bloomer. Early Years Fidelia Bridges was born May 19, 1834, the daughter of sea captain Henry Gardiner Bridges…

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Black Women After the Civil War

African American Women in Postbellum America Image: A freed family on a plantation gathered for a photograph After the Civil War, African American women were promised a new life of freedom with the same rights provided to other American citizens. But the newly freed women in the South had little or no money, limited or no education and little access to it, and racism impacted every area of their lives. The transition from enslavement to freedom was a difficult and frightening one for most black women who emerged from enslavement knowing “that what they got wasn’t what they wanted; it wasn’t freedom, really.” The Civil War promised freedom to African American women, but as the Confederate Army and slaveowners fleeing…

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First Feminists in the United States

First American Feminists Feminism in the United States is often divided chronologically into first-wave (1848-1920), second-wave (early 1960s to 1980s), and third-wave (1990s-present). As of the most recent Gender Gap Index measurement of countries by the World Economic Forum in 2014, the United States is ranked 20th in gender equality. Image: Amelia Bloomer (center) introduces Anthony (left) to Stanton. Bloomer and Stanton are wearing the Bloomer costume (shorter dresses). Seneca Falls, New York Anthony and Stanton: Always at the Forefront In the spring of 1851, William Lloyd Garrison conducted an anti-slavery meeting in Seneca Falls. Susan B. Anthony attended, staying at the home of Amelia Bloomer. They met Elizabeth Cady Stanton on the street and immediately began their historic friendship.

Mary Cunningham Logan

Wife of Union General John A. Logan Image: John and Mary Cunningham Logan With children John Alexander Logan and Mary Logan Tucker Early Years Mary Simmerson Cunningham was born August 15, 1838 in Petersburgh, Boone County, Missouri, the daughter of Captain John and Elizabeth La Fontaine Cunningham. Her parents were of Irish-French ancestry. Mary’s maternal grandfather, La Fontaine, owned large tracts of land in Missouri that were farmed by slave labor, and her paternal grandfather was a slave owner in Tennessee. Shortly after her birth, Mary’s parents moved to southern Illinois where her father became registrar of the land office as well as an army officer. John Alexander Logan was born February 9, 1826 in what is now Murphysboro, Illinois….

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Mary Ann McClintock

Pioneer of the Women’s Rights Movement Mary Ann McClintock was one five women who met for tea in Waterloo, New York, but the conversation soon turned to women’s rights, or rather the lack thereof. The result of this meeting, and another the following day at the McClintock House, was the First Women’s Rights Convention, which was held at Seneca Falls on July 19-20, 1848. Born Mary Ann Wilson in Burlington, New Jersey of Quaker parents, she attended Westtown School in 1814 for one year. She married Thomas McClintock in 1820 and moved with him to 107 South Ninth Street, his store in Philadelphia. They had five children: Elizabeth (1821), Mary Ann (1822), Sarah (1824), Charles (1829) and Julia (1831). They…

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