Kate Cumming

Civil War Nurse from Alabama Kate Cumming is best known for her dedicated service to sick and wounded Confederate soldiers. She spent much of the latter half of the Civil War as a nurse in field hospitals throughout Georgia. In 1866 she published A Journal of Hospital Life in the Confederate Army of Tennessee from the Battle of Shiloh to the End of the War, a record of her day-to-day nursing experiences on the battlefields of Tennessee and Georgia. Cumming was born in 1835 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her family moved to Mobile, Alabama, when she was still a child. Kate quickly adapted to the Southern way of life. Her father was a wealthy Mobile merchant. She and her family were…

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Susan Margaret Chancellor

Witness to the Battle of Chancellorsville From the viewpoint of 16-year-old Susan Margaret Chancellor, one of the inhabitants of the Chancellor House, the war brought some excitement to her quiet life in rural Virginia. During the winter of 1862–1863, Confederate soldiers on outpost duty supplied Susan and her family with welcome entertainment. His Supreme Moment Mort Kunstler, Artist Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Chancellorsville, his greatest victory The Chancellor house, aflame in the background, is based on drawings of the house done before the war which were made available to Mort Kunstler by Janice Fry, librarian at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. From Susan Chancellor’s diary: Chancellorsville was not a village but a large country home….

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Mary Bedinger Mitchell

Mary Bedinger Mitchell was born August 3, 1850. Her father, Henry Bedinger, served as America’s first ambassador to Denmark. In 1858, the family went to Shepherdstown, Virginia (now West Virginia), where Henry had grown up. In the 1840s, he came down with pneumonia after giving a speech to a cheering crowd. He died two weeks later. Mary Bedinger Mitchell The family lived for a while with her father’s sister, Henrietta Bedinger Lee, and her husband, Edmund Jennings Lee, the first cousin of Robert E. Lee. In 1859, Mary’s mother bought “Poplar Grove,” near Shepherdstown and had an addition built onto the house. She also hired a tutor to teach her children at home. After the Battle of Antietam, which occurred…

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Jane Howison Beale

Civil War Diarist and Educator Image: Widow Jane Howison Beale, Fredericksburg’s most prominent woman, lived in this home at the corner of Lewis and Charles Streets, and left a vivid account of the town during the Civil War. She was among the many who fled during the shelling from Federal artillery. Early Years Jane Howison was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in 1815, one of twelve children. Her parents, Samuel and Helen Moore Howison, were prominent members of the community. At the age of nineteen, Jane married William Churchill Beale. In 1846, William bought a large brick home in Fredericksburg. William died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack in 1850, leaving Jane to cope with their large family alone. And…

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Rachel Cormany

Civil War Diarist from Pennsylvania Rachel Bowman was born in Canada in 1836. During a time when few women had the opportunity for a formal education, Rachel received the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree from Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. Image: Samuel and Rachel Cormany To pay Rachel’s tuition, the family had moved to Westerville and opened a boarding house for students. One of those students was Samuel Cormany. Rachel graduated from Otterbein in 1859 and moved to eastern Pennsylvania to teach in the Quakertown Schools. Samuel Cormany followed her there and asked her to be his wife. She accepted, and they were married in November 1860. On their wedding trip, the couple visited Rachel’s relatives in Canada, and they…

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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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Cornelia McDonald

Civil War Diarist of Winchester, Virginia Cornelia McDonald (1822–1909) was the author of A Diary with Reminiscences of the War and Refugee Life in the Shenandoah Valley, 1860-1865 in which she records her experiences during the Civil War as a woman living in Winchester, Virginia. The town changed hands numerous times during the war, and life there was uncertain at best. McDonald was among the group of women who became known as the “Devil Diarists of Winchester.” Cornelia Peake was born in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1822, the youngest child of a doctor. Her father’s debts forced him to move his large family several times during Cornelia’s childhood. The family and their slaves ended up in Palmyra, Missouri, where several family…

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Dolly Lunt Burge

Civil War Diarist Dolly Lunt was born in Maine in 1817. As a young woman, she moved to Georgia to join her recently married sister. While teaching school there, she met Thomas Burge, whose wife had died in 1848, leaving him with five children. 1848, Dolly began to keep a diary. In 1850, at the age of 33, Dolly married Thomas Burge and moved to his plantation near Covington, Georgia, about 35 miles east of Atlanta. She helped Thomas run the farm and became a mother to his children. In 1855, she gave birth to a daughter, Sarah. For some reason, they called her Sadai. Dolly’s diary is filled with news about her slaves, whom she called servants. Some of…

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