Say What Saturday: Celebrating “Women’s History Month” as we Remember the Women in President Lincoln’s Life


2nd Lieutenant
Aug 6, 2016


Thomas Nast Illustration of Crowd awaiting Lincoln's arrival in Baltimore, February 23, 1861

Kate Warne (1833–1868) was at the offices of Allan Pinkerton in 1856 in search of employment never knowing how her position would make her a part of history. Not only was she America’s first detective she would also become the woman who became a part of Abraham Lincolns escape from an alleged assassination plot as he traveled through Baltimore on his way to the White House.

Warner met up with the President-Elect in Philadelphia. The plan: she was a sister traveling to take her sick brother (Abraham Lincoln) home. She made all the arrangements for their travel making sure to request sleeper cars for her “brother” needed “complete peace and quiet”. She stayed with him while the sleeper car was transported via horse through Baltimore. It was thanks to the bravery and the intelligence gathering of Kate Warne as she did her part to keep Abraham Lincoln safe during his stay in volatile Baltimore. ​


Drawing by Marguerite Martin published in The St. Louis-Post Dispatch February 14, 1918

Anna Ella Carroll (1815-1893) lived in a time when politics was never a career choice for those of the fairer sex but that never stopped the determined Maryland native. A difficult, outspoken and sly woman as the daughter of a one-time Governor gained the trust of President Lincoln. A female cabinet member she’d never be but she was invited to the Lincoln White House for a confidential interview. She became an unofficial adviser. However when this headstrong lady decided to take credit for bringing Union soldiers into the Tennessee River Campaign, long before Lincoln’s own advisers contemplated this (as she claimed), it was too much for the President to accept. She did not stop there as she claimed it was due to her, that the Union Army had “success” for any of their victories and demanded recognition and fought for the rest of her life for a pension. She lost this battle.

Eliza P. Gurney (1801-1881) found herself in the company of President Lincoln on October 26, 1862. Arriving in a driving rain storm she accompanied three other Quakers: John M. Whithall, Hannah B. Mott, and James Carey. During a time of prayer and meditation she offered:

“May this be thy blessed experience! May our Father in heaven guide thee by His own unerring counsel through the remaining difficulties of thy wilderness journey, bestow upon thee a double portion of that wisdom which cometh down from above, and, finally, when thou shalt have served thy generation according to the will of God, through the fullness of His atoning, pardoning love and mercy in Jesus Christ our Lord, receive thy ransomed spirit into that rest which remaineth for the people of God, unite it to the glorious company of victors whom the apostle saw standing on the sea of glass mingled with fire, having the harps of God in their hands ! And they sang the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty, just and true are all Thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear before Thee and glorify Thy name, for Thou only art holy!” {3}

He told her ““I am glad of this interview”, and he followed with a correspondence to Eliza Gurney in which he wrote:​


Currier and Ives Battle of Fredericksburg
(Library of Congress Illustration)

Louise Rodgers Paul (birth unknown-death 1898) was the second wife of Gabriel Rene Paul. Gabriel Paul was serving in the Union Army assigned to the defenses of Washington and more importantly was ranked a Major in the Regular Army. Mrs. Louise Paul was not happy with this. She decided that his many years of service warranted a higher rank and decided to visit the Commander-in-Chief to remedy this wrong. The President was well acquainted with visitors seeking favors, jobs or officer commissions but there was something in Louise that impressed Lincoln. In late of August of 1862 when she visited, Lincoln noted: Today Mrs. Major Paul cals and urges appointment of husband as a Brigadier General.” [then he observes]​


Gabriel Paul (1813-1886)

[and then he adds] “she will keep tormenting me until I may have to do it. {4}” In less than two weeks, Major Gabriel Paul was not Brigadier General General of volunteers.

Rebecca Pomroy (1817-1884) was acquainted with tragedy. Her sea captain father died when she was ten years old and times were financially challenging for her mother and her four siblings. She married at nineteen, was the mother of three children and in the years before the war she cared for her asthmatic husband. During the 1850’s she lost two of her children and by 1860 her husband joined them in death. When the war began, her only surviving son enlisted in the Union army. She is now alone.

She decided to write Dorothea Dix and offer her services as an army nurse. She excelled in this position and in time came to serve at Columbian College Hospital in Washington where she wrote her sister on October 12, 1861;

“Many of our patients are dying of typhoid. Their tongues are black and their breath is extremely offensive. . . Though the work was difficult and ceaseless [Pomroy nevertheless] felt ‘very happy in mind, still have hold of my Savior's hand, and believe he has yet a great work for me’.” {5}

She was correct in her faith believing a great work was coming to her. In the early days of February 1862 she stepped into history. Willie and Tad Lincoln were both ill. Although a prior note from Nurse Dix offering to send a nurse to the White House had been politely declined, after the death of the Lincoln’s son Willie, the president requested a nurse be sent to “look after Taddy”. Rebecca was that nurse.

Not only did she worked tirelessly tending to Tad as he gradually recovered from his illness, she also became one of a team of ladies (Elizabeth Keckley Mary Welles, Eliza Browning and Elizabeth Todd Edwards) providing emotional support and comfort to Mary Lincoln. Rebecca became a dear family friend. She returned to her nursing duties but kept in close contact with the family. She wrote a friend her remembrances of the President during the difficult days in 1862:​


William “Willie” Lincoln (December 21, 1850 – February 20, 1862)

Nearly one hundred and fifty-seven years ago on Friday, March 18, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln stopped in to visit the Sanitary Fair held in Washington. He was quite impressed with what he saw. At one point he was given the opportunity to speak - - and he did - -​


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All Photos Public Domain/Illustrations No Known Copyright Restrictions
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Ole Miss

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Dec 9, 2017
North Mississippi
Kate Warne's Obituary
“In her career while she lived she developed that her sex could do much more than had ever before been ascribed to their sphere,” the obituary reads. “She leaves a void in the female detective department which it will be difficult ever to fill. As she lives, so she died, a strong, pure, devoted woman.”

What an incredible thrived during of nature this woman was! She thrived during a time when most women struggled to live and make it one more day. Ms. Warne was a brave and talented woman who lived a life of intrigue and adventure that would have been the envy of many men!

Thank you for bringing this woman back to life to receive the acclaim she earned!