Military Biography Civil War Hero Anna Ella Carroll Part 2

About the lesser-known Civil War hero Anna Ella Carroll, history and biography of the woman whose military tactics helped win the war.



President Lincoln dispatched a note to the War Dept. recommending that Anne be put in its amploy. By verbal agreement, she was hired to write for the government and to scout out the dire military situation in the West. So confidently did national leaders look to her that Secretary of State William H. Seward assigned Lemuel Evans, former congressman and future military governor of Texas, to be her aide. Few of the enlisted men whom she interviewed and none of the officers, including Generals Sherman and Grant, thought the Union could be saved.

Union preparations for a gunboat assault on the Mississippi fortresses were an obvious necessity. Although the Confederates were poised to meet the attack, Anne surmised correctly that at Fort Henry on the Tennessee River they had lowered their guard. Anne set about gathering military information. She knew that the Union's armored boats were scorned by river pilots. They could scarcely move against the Mississippi current, and in retreat their guns would be pointed the wrong way. There must be a better plan to divide the South, a way to reach the Memphis and Charleston Railroad and cut the Southern supply line.

Anne's military and legal mind swung into high gear. She had learned much from military tactician Winfield Scott, whom she knew as "Uncle Win." She had listened to him expound endlessly on how to win wars. Now was the time to put that knowledge to work. Brooding over a map of the Mississippi for long hours, Anne finally fell to her knees and prayed. Then she looked at the map again, and in a flash of inspiration she saw the Tennessee River. By it, men and gunboats could reach the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. A short distance overland and then the Tombigbee River could float them to Mobile, driving a wedge through the South. Mississippi fortresses could be taken from the exposed side. Anne wrote up her plan, had Evans read it over, then sent it to Lincoln.

Word reached Ben Wade, chairman of the Committee on the Conduct of the War. Wade rushed to President Lincoln, who admitted that there was a feasible plan which, however, did not originate with the military, "Damn!" exploded Wade. "If it is a good plan, let us have it!"

"But it is not only the work of a civilian. It is the work of a woman," countered Lincoln. Wade overrode Lincoln's objections and demanded the appointment forthwith of Edwin Stanton as secretary of war and the immediate implementation of the Tennessee River plan.

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