March 13, 2018
The Southern Maryland Civil War Round Table is pleased to announce that its next meeting will take place on Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at 7:00pm at the College of Southern Maryland’s Center for Business and Industry, Chaney Enterprises Conference Center, Room BI-113, at 8730 Mitchell Road in La Plata, MD.
Guest Speaker: Kimberly Schwatka
We invite you to join us this evening, as Ms. Kimberly Schwatka takes us into the world of nursing during the Civil War by introducing us to Ms. Harriet Patience Dame. Ms. Dame is one of small number of army nurses who “roughed it” in the field with the men. Harriet was in the field with her “boys” the Second New Hampshire Infantry during the entire war. When the Civil War broke out, Miss Dame was operating a boarding house for students in Concord, New Hampshire. She answered the call for volunteers when the regimental surgeon of the Second New Hampshire Infantry requested two matrons. Harriet Dame applied, was quickly accepted, and traveled south to join the regiment. Harriet received her introduction to battlefield at the First Battle of Manassas, where she met up with the Second New Hampshire as the battle was beginning.
In 1862, during the retreat from the James during the Peninsula campaign, she demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership. General Hooker gave the orders that all of the sick and wounded who could not travel be left behind. Harriet organized the sick and wounded so they could help each other during the 120 mile trek. During the retreat from the Peninsula, Miss Dame was captured for the first time. At the Second Battle of Bull Run, Harriet was taken prisoner for the second time at the old stone church at Centreville, Virginia. During the unit’s furlough, instead of accepting a much-deserved furlough of her own, Harriet took charge of the New Hampshire Soldiers Aid Society rooms in Washington DC.
Harriet rejoined unit when they returned to active duty. She was present for the battle of Gettysburg and it is believed she may have been at the Trostle barn caring for the wounded. Miss Dame stayed at the Corps hospital until the sick and wounded were transferred to general hospitals.
Harriet would again rejoin the 2nd New Hampshire at Point Lookout, Maryland where it was assigned guarding prisoners of war. While the Second was assigned to Point Lookout, she was sent to investigate the sanitary conditions of the New Hampshire troops stationed near Charleston, South Carolina and St Augustine, Florida. Miss Dame would later be appointed matron of the 18th Corps Hospital at Broadway Landing during the Petersburg campaign in 1864.
After the war, the New Hampshire Legislature voted Harriet $500 for her wartime work. She donated the funds to help build a cottage at The Weirs for veterans of the Second New Hampshire. Over 600 veterans signed the petition that resulted in a private pension bill being passed granting Harriet a pension for her wartime service as a nurse. She was granted a pension as a result of $25 per month in 1884. Her invalid claim states that she was disabled by rheumatism.
Unknown to Miss Dame, then Assistant Secretary of the Treasury William E. Chandler secured an appointment for her as a clerk in the treasury department. She held the position until 1896, when she was dismissed from her post due to prolonged absence due to breaking her leg first in February 1865, and then when she broke her other leg on the evening of November 27, 1895 after being knocked down by a female bicyclist.
She served as the second president of the Army Nurses Association which had lobbied Congress for passage of a bill to grant pensions to nurses of the Civil War. Harriet was a welcome guest at veterans’ reunions and an honored guest at the annual encampment at The Weirs. Miss Dame was entitled to wear the cross of the Eighteenth Corps, the diamond of the Third Corps of Hooker’s division, and the heart of the Twelfth corps. She also received a special badge from the Second New Hampshire Infantry.
Harriet Patience Dame died April 24, 1900 in Concord, New Hampshire. She was buried in Blossom Hill Cemetery with full military honors. Surviving members of the regiment had the monument erected in the cemetery in her honor. In 2002, she was inducted posthumously into the American Nursing Association Hall of Fame for her work during the American Civil War.
Kimberly Schwatka is a customer service representative with General Dynamics IT. This fall she is returning to school to pursue her Master of Arts in Military History at Norwich University. Ms. Schwatka is a graduate of Depaul University. Ms. Schwatka became interested in Civil War history while still in junior high school. She is a reenactor and living historian with both the 20th Maine Company E and the 17th Corps Field Hospital. Ms. Schwatka is also a member of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. Her interest in Harriet Patience Dame grew as a result of a brief biography that was brought to her attention.
Please come out as we celebrate Women’s History Month with this informative presentation. Attendance is free, but membership is recommended. For more information, please call Round Table President Ben Sunderland at 443-975-9142 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.