Friday, March 1, 2013

1913 - Only Woman Veteran of the Civil War in Need

The Appeal (St. Paul Minn)
March 1 1913

Kady Brownell Only One of Sex
to fight for Union

Photo from the Tacoma Times
May 30 1911
Went to Front with Husband When a Bride of Three Years--Now Custodian of Famous Jumel Mansion in New York--Once Headquarters of Washington.

New York--Kady Brownell, born on a battlefield, the only woman member of the G.A.R. and custodian of the historical Jumel mansion, has broken down and is now confined to her bed.  Her faculties are failing, and effort is being made to get her husband's consent to have her removed to some institution.

He is Robert S. Brownell and, like her, a wounded veteran of the civil war.  He was quite badly hurt, and she always has been the responsible head of the family.  Since 1895 she has been an employee of the park department but is now incapacitated for duty.  She is the recipient of a pension, passed by special act of congress.

Her father was Colonel George Southwell, a British officer, who was stationed in the year 1842 in Caffraria, South Africa.  His greatest friend, another officer, was Sir James Kady, who had been married at about the same time as Colonel Southwell.  The two men agreed that whoever had the first child should name him after the other.  Colonel Southwell's wife was proud in the knowledge that she was soon to let him fulfill his part of the bargain.

There was fighting near the station in those days, and the colonel's wife drove out with some friends to observe the fighting from a distance.  It was while she was there that she was taken ill.  An army tent was hastily pitched, and her child was born, a girl child.

A few days later the little girl's mother died, and when her father could get away he took her back to england.  Then he was ordered out with his regiment again, and he gave her into the hands of another friend, Cameron McKenzie, who was coming to America.

She met Robert Brownell when they both lived in Central Falls, R.I. There they were married three days before the first shot of the civil war.  He had been one of the charter members of the Mechanics Rifles of Providence, where his mother lived.  He took his bride to see his mother, and the evening of their arrival a call was issued for a meeting of his company. Governor William Sprague was raising troops and the Rifles were called upon.  More than 200 men were there when they were asked to step forward if they had nothing to keep them from volunteering.  There was just one man who didn't step forward, and he was promptly thrown down two flights of stone stairs.

Robert Brownell went home and told his bride that he was going to war.  She said that he shouldn't go without her.  At first he laughed, then he forbade her to go, and finally he begged her not to go.  he told her that a regiment made up of men of all sorts was not a place for a woman.

"If a woman wants to she can be a good woman in hell." she answered.

When he embarked with the rest of his regiment he was dismayed to find her on board.  It was only after the hardest kind of work that she was taken ashore, and she immediately began her pleadings with Governor Sprague.  She urged to such good effect that the governor escorted her to Washington and allowed her to take her place beside her husband.

She never disguised herself as a man.  She didn't carry a rifle, but she had a light saber and a revolver, with which she could shoot so well that she became known as one of the most expert sharpshooters of her regiment.

The only wound which she received was a shot in the leg at the battle of Bull Run.  One day she plodded along beside her husband over thirty miles of hard roads.

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