A Real Civil War Female Soldier

It is estimated that about 500 women actually fought as soldiers in the Civil War. Most disguised themselves as men to be able to do this. There was one major exception, Kady Brownell.

Following is an excerpt about her from my book, “Civil War Women” Underestimated and Indispensable.” Below the article is a photo of the book cover. Kady is there at the top right. The book is available via amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HV4SSWK

“Unlike just about every other woman who fought in the Civil War, Kady Brownell was recognized as a full member of her First Rhode Island Infantry, as a color guard.  She even designed her own uniform so that she could fit in with the other soldiers.  The fact that her husband was in the same group made the decision by Governor Sprague to give her that status that much easier.

“During their training she joined the men in rifle drills, and she always carried a short sword at her side.  At the First Battle of Bull Run “wearing a red sash with big tassels and letting her long hair flow freely over her shoulders and back, the color-bearer of the 1st Rhode Island advanced boldly with her men.”   Despite the Union defeat, Kady was not one of the many Union troops who panicked and fled from the battlefield. 

“Their 90 day enlistment over, the Brownells returned to Rhode Island.  They then re-enlisted to serve again under Burnside, this time in North Carolina, although Kady would no longer be permitted to be an official member of the troupe.  Reportedly, during the campaign at New Bern, she prevented a “friendly fire” incident by waving her bonnet to tell advancing Union troops that they were not moving toward the enemy.  Later, while tending to the wounded, she learned that her husband had been shot.  When he was sent home to recuperate, she went with him, and later they were discharged.  Thereby Kady became the only woman to be officially discharged from the army.  She later became a member of the major Union veterans group, Grand Army of the Republic, and in 1884 was granted a military pension.”


Author: geneofva

Author of "Citizen-General: Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era," and of seven more Civil War books -- with more to come!!

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