A Military Genius - Life of Anna Ella Carroll of Maryland
by Sarah Ellen Blackwell
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"Mr. Wise thereupon asked for a reconsideration of the motion. The final result was that a unanimous vote allowed me to present my appeal.

"After this generous action I found the presentation of the case a pleasure rather than a duty. It was rather a conversation with liberal-minded gentlemen. When they learned that President Lincoln, his Secretaries, and Senators and Representatives whose names are famous vouched for Miss Carroll's work, the integrity of her claim more surely revealed itself to them.

"The case was ordered to Mr. Wise for special consideration, which he cordially promised to give.

"As I left the committee-room I could not help congratulating myself over the ill-omened beginning, since it had resulted toward a relation of the work far more complete than had otherwise been the case.

"That day I saw the aged invalid for the first time. She is a most remarkable woman still. I heard from her own lips the story I knew so well, but rendered more thrilling than ever as thus repeated; and I had the happiness of telling her that I believed her case was now in safe hands.

"Not long after, through the unseating of Mr. Wise, of Virginia, Hon. Francis W. Rockwell, of this State, received the case as sub-committee. In view of this we ought to be even more hopeful, since his colleagues, Messrs. Hoar and Lodge, have put forth so many efforts in its furtherance.—Boston Sunday Herald, February, 1890.


The Century magazine, which had been publishing an exhaustive account of "the men who fought and planned our battles," was appealed to in the name of historical verity to give an account of Miss Carroll's work. Having had the matter under consideration for more than a year and having convinced themselves of the truth of the claim, they published, in August of 1890, an open letter bringing the case to the attention of their readers. A public-spirited lady of Washington purchased copies and laid the marked article on the desks of Senators and Representatives, with the same invariable result. But though Congress disregarded the matter, not so the reading public, and inquiries began to be made for further information, which it was difficult to furnish for want of an easily attainable printed account. It was therefore determined to meet this demand, and the present relation is the result.

In consequence of the petitions continually received, friendly Senators and Representatives have again and again brought in bills asking for $10,000, or even $5,000, for Miss Carroll's relief (invariably neglected).

Such bills, though very kindly meant, seem to me a mistake. It is not a question of $5,000 or $500,000. It is—it always has been—a question of recognition.

Granted that this wonderful woman by the intense labor of heart and brain, by her whole-souled devotion of life and fortune, has saved the national cause—for the thousands upon thousands of precious lives laid down would have been of no avail had the plan adopted at the crisis of fate been an unwise one—this granted, a noble bill might be acted upon by Congress, but an ignoble one—never. Whatever may be our faults, we are at heart a proud and self-respecting people, and no paltry bill would be endured, and no bill which did not award military honor for pre-eminent military services could meet the case with justice and with dignity.

Although weighed down with an immense mass of obsolete law and custom, shall we say that England leads the van in integrity of principle and devotion to human rights? Although the doctrine of divine right was exploded long ago, England loyally holds to her Queen.

As long as it pleases the English people to maintain a royal line, it makes no difference to them whether its representative be a man or a woman. England never had a salic law. But America—when a grand woman comes to her for her deliverance at the crisis of her fate, crowned with heaven's own prerogative of genius, what America does for her in return for her accepted services is to stamp her under foot and bury her out of sight, that her well-earned glory may fall by default upon the ruling class.

Can America continue to be so unjust to women? Can it continue to hold them down as a disfranchised class?

Owing to continued petitions, Military Committees were appointed during this last Congress to investigate Miss Carroll's claim.

I have not heard the result, but again Congress has adjourned without taking action. About March 27 I had the opportunity of looking over the file which had just come back from the Senate Committee. First of all came a surprising number of petitions sent in during this past year; then the documents in evidence of the claim. They were a meager lot compared to what they should have been. In a case of this importance one would suppose that a copy of every memorial and of every report should have been on the file. Not at all. Quite early in the history of the case "supply exhausted" was the answer given to every request for these documents, and Miss Carroll herself was unable to obtain them.

The reprint of a few of the earlier ones by no means represents them, and owing to the universal exclusion from the Congressional indexes of the later and more important ones, especially the memorial of 1878 and Bragg's report thereon, much important evidence was wanting. Still considering that all that has been printed by "order of Congress" is guaranteed, I should have thought that the evidence given before the Military Committee of 1871 would have been sufficient. Certain I am that if a woman had been on that committee the matter would have assumed more prominence, and there would have been a research for the additional documents that have been omitted. It is the old, old story that every intelligent woman is coming to understand, that you cannot leave to others the interests of a disfranchised class.

In looking over the file at the War Department I noted that there had been inquiries from committees asking if there was a letter of Miss Carroll's there of November 30, 1861, and others mentioned, and the answer returned was "no." It would be in place here to call attention to the fact that they had once been on file there, and the reason that they are there no longer is given in the memorial of 1878, on the evidence of Wade, Hunt, and others.

On April 16, 1891, at the file-room of the House, I saw the file that had come back from the House Committee of this past Congress, whose attention also had been called to the subject in consequence of the many petitions received by the House as well as by the Senate. I counted twenty-five petitions with numerous signatures, as well as some detached letters. An interesting petition was from one of the Army Posts, signed by soldiers and by officers, asking for award to their great coadjutor. I noted a statement in one of them that the widow of one of the Generals employed in carrying out the Tennessee campaign had been in receipt, ever since her husband's death, of a pension of $5,000 a year, while the great projector of the campaign had been left neglected. Asking if there was anything more, another bundle of petitions was handed to me, each package containing a paper, with extracts from the memorials and reports, neatly arranged, giving some of the remarkable letters of Scott, Wade, and Evans, and the decisions of the Military Committees fully endorsing the claim. It would seem that the committees were appointed to receive the petitions, not to consider evidence, as the documentary evidence was not here on the file. And why should they consider it, when the case had been at the first examined carefully, tried, and a unanimous vote had endorsed the claim, and succeeding reports, including the one mistakenly marked as "adverse," all bore witness to the incontestable nature of the evidence. To go on trying a case so established over and over for twenty years would be a manifest absurdity.

And thus the case stands.

In reading these records a sorrowful thought must come into every woman's soul as she recognizes how deep must have been the feeling against women to prevent Congress, in all these years, from coming to a fair and square acknowledgment of the truth.

But a different spirit is coming over the world: A spirit of justice, a spirit of brotherly kindness towards women, shown in innumerable ways and recognized by them with gratitude and joy.

The active men of to-day were children when the Union was saved. Helpless children, when Miss Carroll, in the prime of her life and fullness of her powers, with clearness of perception, with firmness of character, with the light of genius upon her brow, devoted her time, her strength, her fortune, and her great social influence to the national cause that the men of to-day might have a country, proud, prosperous, and peaceful, to rejoice in themselves and to hand down in unbroken unity to their children.

It should be not only a duty but a blessed privilege—still possible—to see that all that earth can give to brighten the latter days of our great benefactress shall be given her. That she shall be crowned with the undying love and gratitude of a great and a united nation.

And let us remember, too, what it would have been for our country if the noble daughter of Governor Carroll had thought it her duty to keep out of politics while her country was perishing, and to regard the military movements, upon which its life depended, as something outside of a woman's province.

The nation belongs to its women as surely as it belongs to its men. All that concerns its welfare concerns them also, and nature has gifted them with especial attributes of heart and intellect to aid in its guidance and to aid in its salvation.


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