Discussion Did Wives and Family Follow Soldiers to War?


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Viper21

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#3
I'm aware of instances of wives and family following officers, for example my avatar Martin Green, his wife was at Vicksburg and his son an aide on his staff. Think his wife volunteered some at one of the hospitals
Was this a thing on both sides..? How prevalent was it..?

Seems odd to me. Would think overall a negative to the military cause.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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#4
Don't look at it with modern eyes, @Viper21. They didn't see see it they same way as a negative to the military cause.

It did happen but, and it's a big BUT, the women had to have the money to come. In most instances, unless you were a Grant or Stuart or one of the other Gods of War, the officers had to find a house with a room for rent near the camp. A captain's wife was not going to wash laundry for the camp.

Many men longed for the wives so if the wife could travel and come, they did, but they had to be able to travel. If it had been my great-grandmother, she would have been too busy overseeing a huge farm here in the northeast to have traveled. And then their were weather conditions. They wouldn't have traveled as much in the winter.

The hospitals units were set quite a distance from the army and I haven't read of any nurses with living husbands working as nurses in the hospitals. Anything is possible and we certainly have very incomplete histories of the nurses.

Then, except for the most high-level women, think Julia Grant (and maybe even she was included), or the most high-level nurses like Mother Bickerdycke, when battle or siege was imminent, ALL women were ordered away or completely to the rear which might be 4 or 5 miles at least.
 
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#5
I was wondering if there are any cases of family members of soldiers, such as wives or sisters, travelling with their units?
Yes... Brig. General Samuel Wragg Ferguson had his wife, Catherine Sarah "Kate" (Lee) Ferguson, brought to him at every Campaign in which he fought. He makes reference to it numerous times in his daily journal and later in his memoirs. While he would be in the field he would have her in a nice hotel in the nearest town, or staying with personal friends as they moved from place to place. His men would stay at their base camp and certain nights he would meet his wife in town for dinner or to stay the night with her. Some of the men who served under his command, such as the 2nd Regiment Alabama Cavalry, would speak of her always being near them as they moved from campaign to campaign in their journals and letters home. I would say that she was with him or near him for the vast majority of the war after being married on 25 Aug 1862. She was a relation of General Robert E. Lee.
 
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#7
Not only did wives travel with some of the officers but those who had "body-servants" travelled with them as well. Even regarding privates and corporals who were housed at camp with them. One such case was Pvt. Hardin Perkins Cochrane ("D" Troop) , 2nd Regiment Alabama Cavalry, his "body-servant" was named Claiborne and he was in camp throughout the war preparing meals and performing various chores for Pvt. H. P. Cochrane. When he would write his letters home he would always mention how Claiborne was doing to his mother, brothers and sisters. When his mother would need something extra done around the house Pvt. H. P. Cochrane would send Claiborne home to Alabama to help with what needed to be done and then he would return to camp after he had finished. There were times when Capt. Josiah J. Pegues, Pvt. H. P. Cochranes Company Commander needed something done he would loan him Claiborne to assist him with what ever thing it was. Or send him to town to purchase stores or food. The way that Claiborne was spoken of in Pvt. H. P. Cochrane`s letters home, he was very much a beloved member of the family.
 
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AUG

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#9
I'm aware of instances of wives and family following officers, for example my avatar Martin Green, his wife was at Vicksburg and his son an aide on his staff. Think his wife volunteered some at one of the hospitals
Likewise, Josephine, the wife of Col. Eugene Erwin of the 6th Missouri Infantry (CS), was with him at Vicksburg. He was killed in the battle of the crater there on June 25. After the siege, Josephine brought the 6th Missouri's former flag through Federal lines and back to Missouri. IIRC, Gen. John Bowen's wife may have been with him at Vicksburg as well.
 
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#10
I was wondering if there are any cases of family members of soldiers, such as wives or sisters, travelling with their units? I had thought a number had done so, serving as cooks, washerwomen, or nurses, but I wanted to check.
So, I know that this was the wrong army and the wrong war, but I’m mentioning it as an example of 19th century culture: do a google search on General Harry Smith or Sir Harry Smith from the British army and his wife Juana from the Napoleonic Wars. Smith later became the governor of British South Africa. However, when Smith was a captain or something during the war on the Spanish Penninsula, he met his Spanish wife Juana and she followed him through the rest of the war against Napoléon. He barely had enough money from his army pay to feed both of them, and she slept in his tent. She stayed in a nearby town for safety during Waterloo. Even then, she had to evacuate due to a potential threat from the French. Smith wrote all about this in his memoirs, which I found for free online. Harry Smith asked his wife to add to his memoirs several pages about her personal experiences during the Battle of Waterloo. Also, the classic romance novel “The Spanish Bride” by Georgette Heyer was based on Harry Smith’s memoirs. Smith was famous when he died. However, back during the Napoleonic Wars, when he met and married Juana, he was an impoverished Captain.

Edited to add: The city of Ladysmith in South Africa was named after Juana Smith.
 
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#11
Then, except for the most high-level women, think Julia Grant (and maybe even she was included), or the most high-level nurses like Mother Bickerdycke, when battle or siege was imminent, ALL women were ordered away or completely to the rear which might be 4 or 5 miles at least.
I read part of Julia Grant’s memoirs. Grant sent her away before any troop movement or any impending battles. Even then, she had just barely left Holly Springs when Earl Van Dorn raided it.
 
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#12
Was this a thing on both sides..? How prevalent was it..?

Seems odd to me. Would think overall a negative to the military cause.
Again, I am going to be replying in this particular post about a different army and a different war, but I am mentioning this just to illustrate something that happened in the 19th century:

Based on my enjoyment of historical fiction geared towards women, I am under the impression that one "popular theme" in historical romance fiction about the British regency era are fictional stories about the wives of British officers who follow their husbands on campaign during the Napoleonic Wars. As I mentioned above, Georgette Heyer's classic romance novel "The Spanish Bride" is based upon the real-life experiences of Juana Smith as she followed her husband, British Captain Harry Smith, around on campaign in Spain. (Harry Smith also fought for the British during the Battle of New Orleans, but Juana wasn't with her husband during that battle.) Juana was living with Harry when he was sent off to fight in Waterloo. She stayed in a nearby town, but then she had to evacuate that town just before the battle started. This was long, long before Harry Smith became General Harry Smith or Sir Harry Smith or Governor Harry Smith, so the young couple had to subsist on Smith's meager army pay.

I can name several other authors who write fiction about army wives (officer's wives) following around their husbands during the Regency period.

I personally don't know if this was really common in the British army during the Regency period, or if all of these writers were merely inspired by Georgette Heyer's work.

I did read someplace that during the French and Indian War, British General Braddock's campaign included about 50 women who followed the army as maids and cooks. Braddock was ambushed and defeated a few miles from present-day Pittsburgh. Only a few of the women returned with the British army when they retreated. A bunch of the women were killed, and a bunch of them were taken captive by the French and / or Native Americans, and probably taken to Canada.
 

wbull1

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#13
Some women, dressed as men, not only accompanied husbands and brothers but fought beside them in battles as soldiers on both sides of the conflict. We will never know how many, but casualties and deaths revealed the gender of some of the soldiers. One sergeant was discovered to be female when she gave birth to a baby.
 
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#14
Some women, dressed as men, not only accompanied husbands and brothers but fought beside them in battles as soldiers on both sides of the conflict. We will never know how many, but casualties and deaths revealed the gender of some of the soldiers. One sergeant was discovered to be female when she gave birth to a baby.
Not trying to derail the thread, but I'm reading Decision in the West at the moment, and it mentions Union soldiers finding a woman in uniform among the dead at Atlanta, killed with the other men.
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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#15
Yes, they did. I wish we knew the names of some women whose photos we have. Recently did a thread on " Yellow " hospital, Manassas. The wives and children of the 10th NY Cavalry are there but it's the date that gets you- 1862 when Russell got there. The Duncan House ( name at the time ) had already been overrun and was about it be yet again.

Tons of images from Brandy Station, Lookout Mountain, Arlington and a few others. I've read orders sending them away and forbidding them front line camps- but some camps could become a front line in a big hurry.

I personally don't know if this was really common in the British army during the Regency period, or if all of these writers were merely inspired by Georgette Heyer's work.
No way! First person I've ' met ' to bring up Heyer. Her book on Waterloo has some terrific stuff on the topic too. She gets dismissed as a romance novelist but really wasn't. Research is incredible.

Annie Wittenmeyer, while not following her husband was still under fire several times. She was a ' relief worker ' ( meaning nurse and anything else you do in a shambles ). She was a riot, describing what she called a ' wild ride ' at Vicksburg.

annie wild ride.JPG


These are out of order, sorry.

aniie a safe place.JPG


aniie safe place 2.JPG


It goes on like this, the reassuring officer finding them another ' safe place ' to cross that wasn't and Whistling Dick brought into the narrative.

annie whistling dick.JPG
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#16
Arlington, although no, not a threatened position. Baby!
baby in camp horse flag.jpg


Building a cabin in winter camp for someone's wife.
camp building wife cabin.jpg


One of my favorites although I've never found an ID. I ' think ' Tennessee- same family appears in front of a bridge that must have been a big deal.
kids camp officers wife brand new big.jpg


officers ladies again.jpg

There is an ID for this one, Ramsey? Forget from the top of my head.
 
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#17
Clara Gear Hobbs [full name Clarissa Emily Gear Hobbs] was living in Galena, Illinois when she married. She vowed to go with her husband, Dr. J.C. Hobbs, when he enlisted with the 12th Iowa Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. J.C. Hobbs enlisted in September 1861 and was discharged in April, 1862 at St. Louis, Missouri. He also served regiments from Tennessee and Wisconsin. Her memoir contains great descriptions of conditions at Ft Donelson and Shiloh.

At the conclusion of the war the couple settled in Andrew, Iowa and then Maquoketa, Iowa where J.C. Hobbs continued to practice medicine until deciding to become a Methodist missionary minister in southwest Missouri. Both are buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Omaha, Neb.

Carbon copy of transcription of the original manuscript is available at the State Historical Society of Iowa. .
Original manuscript donated to the Smithsonian by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

An edition of the manuscript was published in the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, v. 17, no. 4 (January 1925), p. 611-714.
 
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#18
I have Julia Grant's memoirs open on my kindle right now.

In the section in which she recounted the running of the blockade at Vicksburg in April 1863, she also wrote:

"The ladies I alluded to as having accompanied me on the Henry von Phul the night of the running of the blockade were Mrs. General McClernand of Illinois, who was also on a short visit to her husband, and Mrs. Major Belle Reynolds, wife of Lieutenant Reynolds of McClernand's staff, a second Florence Nightingale, who so often cared for and cheered the sick and wounded of the regiment that when Governor Yates of Illinois visited the army he conferred on her (in jest, of course) the title of major, thus making her outrank her husband, who now no longer had the right to officially order her back from the front. We called her our Nightingale."

The footnote for this said:
"For Belle Reynolds, wife of Second Lieutenant William S. Reynolds, 17th Illinois, see Frank Moore, Women of the War: Their Heroism and Self-Sacrifice (Hartford, 1866), pp. 254-77. Her commission as honorary major, not issued in jest, recognized her services in caring for the wounded."
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#19
Yes, Belle's honorary commission can still cause an argument and it's a shame. She did incredible work.

Hang on. One of my hand's down favorite photos pertaining to women in camp is here somewhere.

b  officers wife hat.jpg

There's a meal on the table, two chairs next to each other and a bonnet on a bed featuring two pillows.

officers wife hat2.JPG

I'm less clear on this one, not a tent but beyond the bonnet on the bed, there's officer's head wear hanging above the crocheted shawl ( @ami, it's a great piece of era work! ), a binochular case and swords hanging over the bed. Home Sweet War.
 



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