Discussion Did Wives and Family Follow Soldiers to War?

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DBF

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John Brown Gordon's wife Fanny traveled with her husband through out the war.
My favorite story of John Brown Gordon’s wife Fanny “traveling with him” was her actions during the confederate retreat at the third battle of Winchester, as his troops were running through the street, she was in the street while shells and balls were flying around, “demanding” they turn around and fight the enemy. General Gordon was "horrified" (I bet he was!)

Then there were some generals that sent their families away. I believe General Hancock’s wife stayed in St. Louis with the children and only came out after his wounding at Gettysburg.
 

TimJeffers

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Ophelia Amigh, wife of Private Oscar Amigh (Company I), accompanied her husband traveling with the 3rd Iowa Infantry. They brought along a daughter born in 1859, and Ophelia was pregnant with a son when the regiment was deployed to Missouri. The son, Benton, was born in Oct 1861 and named for his place of birth: the Benton Barracks, St Louis.
Ophelia functioned as a nurse. She was a strong willed women, to the point that she appealed to Annie Wittenmyer (mentioned in a previous post) for help in attempting the removal of the regimental Surgeon whom she deemed was not caring properly for the men.
Oscar was wounded at Shiloh, and discharged not long after. Ophelia may have continued caring for the sick and injured after Oscar's discharge. Sadly, their young son did not survive the war:

"Died - 8 June [1863] Benton B. Amigh, youngest child of Oscar M. and Ophelia Amigh, died in St. Louis, Mo, of whooping cough, aged 1 yr. 9 mos. 8 days [that would put the birth c.10/10/1861, 6 months before Shiloh]. This little one was born in Camp Benton, St. Louis, and has ever been the petted child of the 3rd Ia. Inf. Regt. of which both parents were members at the time of his birth. Many brave soldiers mourn his death, for they had wished to see him, like themselves, a true hearted defender of his country."

The death information was obtained from the binder "Heddens' Birth-Marriages-Deaths, Charles City Intelligencer, Years 1859-61, 1863, 1868-1870, 1874-1878", by Lois R. Heddens, date unknown, located at the Floyd County Museum, Charles City, Iowa.

Tim
 
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Marti Moser

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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.
My my @JPK Huson 1863 , you know I'm not going to let the horse get cut out of this pic :giggle:
View attachment 314343
Are you sure that's not a camel? Lol. I've ridden a side saddle once. Trying to prove I could ride anything, any way, any time. Once was enough.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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My my @JPK Huson 1863 , you know I'm not going to let the horse get cut out of this pic :giggle:
View attachment 314343

Ha! I should have known! That squirmy baby has always delighted me so much, I ( shockingly ) forgot all about the gigi and rider.

Do your skirts extend as far as hers? They worry me- it looks like it'd be wayyyy to easy to get a hoof caught. Heck, kicking a fly on the belly , going down a good steep hill, any number of things. I see she's not using the usual assortment of reins and martingales although that's vicious looking curb set-up, one rein on what should be a Pelham, two rein affair.What do you use, please? Just curious/interested!
 
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Belle Montgomery

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Ha! I should have known! That squirmy baby has always delighted me so much, I ( shockingly ) forgot all about the gigi and rider.

Do your skirts extend as far as hers? They worry me- it looks like it'd be wayyyy to easy to get a hoof caught. Heck, kicking a fly on the belly , going down a good steep hill, any number of things. I see she's not using the usual assortment of reins and martingales although that's vicious looking curb set-up, one rein on what should be a Pelham, two rein affair.What do you use, please? Just curious/interested!
That's why they invented the safety skirt in 1875 which evolved into an apron. My tack is nothing fancy. All saddles were hand made back then and many were a combo or whatever the rider liked. My first and favorite horse years ago was from the King Ranch so I bought a western side saddle and tack back then and even had horse from a Texas cattle ranch later on. Never got around to an English side saddle like I planned but I figured with all of my "contraband" it would be better to have the extra leather for more security. In fact the western saddle was designed to provide security and comfort to the rider when spending long hours on a horse, traveling over rugged terrain. Hence...perfect for smuggling.
I like to say the Yankees stole my horse and English saddle/tack from me and had a Western one my cousin gave me when I was visiting out West hidden in my hay loft. See my skirt in the avatar...that's how long I wanted it to be to be period correct. There are ways one can hike up the length like buttons (I have one) but more were concerned with propriety over safety. Buttons were used on the ground for walking but too much, Heaven forbid, would be shown once in the saddle. You can see part of my saddle in this pic.
The skirt in the CW pic amazes me...looks like she had a hoop pulled up on her right side to keep the skirt fanned out like that on her left. Most just wore a ton of petticoats.

Me Slick side saddle half crop.jpg
 
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diane

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Forrest's wife was with him as much as possible. He had planned on her staying safely with his mother near Memphis, but after Shiloh he came in shot up pretty seriously, and their 14 year old son had gone missing. During the same period, Forrest's step-father was shot dead near Mariam's plantation just above Memphis, his crippled brother had gotten beat up and Memphis fell to the Union. He sent Mom down to Texas but the wife would not go - so she was with him most of the time. Sometimes it was in a nice house, sometimes it was in a tent that left much to be desired, but she insisted. She frequently tended to wounded or sick men and was much loved by them - they called her Old Missus. She also served another peculiar function, which might well have been peculiar to Forrest! She could calm him when he was in a fury or couldn't wind down from battle - in either case he was extremely dangerous to everybody around him! - and she could take the edge off his harshness. Some troopers who might have been executed without Mrs Forrest present owed her their lives. Mary Ann came with her personal servant, Catharine, who was devoted to her. Anybody wanted to get at Mary Ann had to get past Catharine, and that wasn't easy! Catharine, as it happened, was also close to her own husband, who was in the war with Forrest.
 

johan_steele

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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.
The 4th MN VI left Minnesota with right around 20 laundresses. All told about 50 women would serve the Regiment as Laundresses throughout the war. About half were "contraband;" many who would come to Minnesota after the war. Of the laundresses that left Minnesota with the Regiment almost all were family members of men in the Regiment.

Minnesota had between 350-400 women who served as laundresses in the assorted Regiments. Minnesota had a half dozen laundresses killed and about a dozen who died of various disease or wounds. After the fighting at Corinth the laundresses were seen in a small column making for the hospitals to help as they could.

A large part of the reason the 4th was so harsh towards guerrillas and partisans was that on the way home for furlough their train was attached to the rear of a hospital train. The Stewards and most of the laundresses went forward to help in the hospital train. The train was fired into; they didn't wait for the troop portion of the train but fired into the clearly marked hospital train. Several of the laundresses were badly wounded and IIRC two were killed. The train did not stop. As a result upon return to duty after the furlough the Regiment would not suffer a Rebel guerrilla to live instead hanging them from the nearest tree, usually running them up so their feet dangled a few inches from the ground and leaving them.

Laundresses were viewed as family to the Regiment and God help the man who spoke poorly of them. The idea that many or even any were actually prostitutes is patently false.

In another incident a Brigade was marching through Chattanooga on the way to the front. A local woman was heard to make repeated loud and disparaging comments about the quality of visitors to her fair city. The men ignored the unlady like comments about them, their politicians and President but when she lit into the laundresses and started in on them a Sgt was seen to step from the column and take hold of the woman. He tore her dress off of her and tossed it to the passing laundresses. He then put her over his knee and gave her a round spanking with the ramrod from his rifle. He then sent her running home. Those men could be rather blunt when needed.

There are several recent books on the subject of women laundresses that have come out in the last few years. It is a subject oft ignored. I have seen and handled a laundresses ledger and it is quite detailed in the minutia of the monies earned by the woman. She was certainly bringing in more money on payday than the typical private. FWIW from what she was charging the chaplain for his laundry she did NOT like the man. She was married to a Sergeant who later earned a commission in a USCT unit. The Colonel of that Regt paid her an extra $5 a month to teach men how to read and write.

For actual families, I doubt many followed the army for very long. The pace of movement on active campaign and inherent danger made such unwise. Winter camps many wives visited but I suspect few stayed for very long.
 
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Belle Montgomery

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DUBUQUE HERALD, May 1, 1862, p. 2, c. 3
A Woman Appointed Major. From the Peoria Transcript. Governor Yates has paid a rather unusual but well merited compliment to Mrs. Reynolds, wife of Lieut. Reynolds, of Co. A, 17th Illinois, and a resident of this city. Mrs. Reynolds has accompanied her husband through the greater part of the campaign through which the 17th has passed, sharing with him the dangers of a soldier's life. She was present at the battle of Pittsburg Landing, and like a ministering angel, attended to the wants of as many of the wounded and dying soldiers as she could, thus winning the gratitude and esteem of the brave fellows by whom she was surrounded. Gov. Yates, hearing of her heroic and praiseworthy conduct, presented her with a commission as Major in the army, the document conferring the well-merited honor being made out with all due formality, and having attached the great seal of the State. Probably no lady in America will ever again have such a distinguished military honor conferred upon her. Mrs. Reynolds is now in this city, and leaves to join her regiment in a day or two.

CHICAGO TIMES, May 19, 1862, p. 1, c. 5
Mrs. Major Belle Reynolds, whose portrait we publish above, from a photography by Cole, of Peoria, Ill., is the wife of Lieutenant Reynolds, of Company A, Seventeenth Regiment Illinois Volunteers, and the daughter of W. K. Macumber, Esq. Her native place is Shelbourne Falls, Massachusetts. The Seventeenth, to which herhusband belongs, is one of the most popular regiments in our western army, being one of the earliest in the field, and during the whole war has been in active service. They met the enemy in a terrible encounter, and vanquished him, at Frederickstown, Missouri. They early took possession of Cape Girardeau; they also bore a prominent part, and were terribly cut up at the battle of Fort Donelson, and were in the thickest of the fight at the battle of Shiloh or Pittsburg Landing. In these last two battles Lieutenant Reynolds was Acting Adjutant. During the greater part of the campaign Mrs. Reynolds has shared with her husband a soldier's fare in camp; many a night, while on long marches, sleeping upon the ground in the open air, with no covering other than her blanket, and frequently drenched with rain; and oftimes, to the order "Fall in," she has hurriedly mounted her horse in the darkness of the night, and made long marches without rest or food except such as she might have had with her. She has at all times exhibited a degree of heroism that has endeared her to the brave soldiers of the Seventeenth and other regiments that have been associated with them and to the officers of the army with whom she is acquainted. Gov. Yates, of Illinois, and his staff were at Pittsburg Landing to look after the Illinois troops, who suffered so severely in that fearful struggle, and learning of Mrs. Reynolds' heroic conduct on the field, and untiring efforts in behalf of the wounded soldiers, he commissioned her Daughter of the Regiment, to take rank as a Major, "for meritorious conduct on the bloody battle-field of Pittsburg Landing." Mrs. R. left Pittsburg Landing a few days after the battle to attend some wounded soldiers to their homes by the rivers, leaving the last one at Peoria--Capt. Swain, of Illinois, who died as the boat touched the wharf at Peoria. She remained at Peoria a few days to recover from her fatigue, and has left again to rejoin the army. The following letter has been addressed to Gov. Yates by citizens of Peoria: "Peoria, April 27, 1862.
To his Excellency Richard Yates, Governor, etc. Springfield, Illinois. Dear Sir--Permit us to thank you for the honor conferred upon Peoria by your voluntary act in commissioning Mrs. Belle Reynolds, of this city, to take rank as Major of Illinois State Militia, showing your appreciation of valuable services so nobly rendered by a lady on the bloody battle-field of Pittsburg Landing. And we take pleasure in bearing testimony to the high moral and Christian character of the Major, believing that in whatever circumstances she may be placed she will ever honor her commission and the worthy Executive who gave it. Respectfully yours,
 
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