Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Women in the Civil War

I stumbled upon a unique blog today concerning a segment of the 19th century population about whom I am embarrassed to say I know very little. The blog "Civil War Women" seems well worth the read, containing stories of a wide variety of well and not-so-well known women from that era. The author deserves a great deal of credit for the time spent to pay the respect due to the women who gave what they could and, along with the men of the time, suffered for their cause.

One of the unique heroines of the Civil War, Elizabeth Thorn lived in Gettysburg and experienced the horrors of war first hand. Her husband Peter had enlisted one year prior to the battle leaving her as the Evergreen Cemetery's sole caretaker, a position the two had shared until the 1862. Before the Battle of Gettysburg, Elizabeth had averaged about 5 burials a month. Her charge would increase dramatically when the Armies of General Robert E. Lee and General George Gordon Meade collided in the fields around her home. The human wreckage was indescribable. About 10,000 dead lay upon the newly christened battlefield.

Monument to Elizabeth Thorn in Gettysburg's Evergreen Cemetery,
holding a shovel in her right arm.

Elizabeth would work very hard to put her home back together and to bury a number of the dead. She would later state, "Well, you may know how I felt, my husband in the army, my father an aged man. Yet for all the foul air, we started in. I struck off the graves and while my father finished one, I had another one started." The soon exhausted Elizabeth sought help among her friends. None endured for long however, all leaving for their homes within days due to illness. Elizabeth and her elderly father found themselves alone facing this exhausting work. She said of her predicament, "By that time we had forty graves done. And then father and I had to dig on harder again."

Elizabeth's efforts proved truly remarkable given that, during this time, she was six to seven months pregnant. A short time later, Elizabeth Thorn gave birth to precious little "Rose Meade Thorn", named in part for the commanding general of the victorious Union Army.



Please visit my primary site at www.brotherswar.com

All original material Copyright © 2006. All Rights Reserved

Source: Beyond the Gatehouse. Gettysburg's Evergreen Cemetery. Brian A. Kennell, Evergreen Cemetery Association, 2000


regina said...

This is a strange coincidence. I was just reading about this woman today in a book called "Images of America Gettysburg" by Dolly Nasby. I also love the human-interest stories in and around the battles.

Randy said...

You are a person after my own heart.

Judi said...

Thank you, thank you Randy. One day a few months ago I found and devoured Rachel's blog and then couldn't find it again...probably owing to my lackluster computer skills. What a service you all perform by sharing your knowledge and research.
The photo is wonderful too.

JennaLee said...

I read your blog for a class assinment and would like to thank you it was wonderful! i really enjoyed it i even clicked the link and read the full version of women in the civil war...thanks for your great writings and interesting subjects!