She was called “Gentle Annie” and “Michigan Annie” by wounded soldiers during the Civil War. She is often referred to as a 'Civil War Nurse' but she was much more than that.

Born Lorinda Anna Blair in Wayne County, Michigan in 1839, Anna realized the profession she was suited for was in the medical field. She came to this conclusion while caring for her father until he died. She became a nurse in one of Michigan's hospitals until the Civil War flared up in 1860. That same year, at the age of 21, Anna married James Etheridge.

James joined the 2nd Michigan Infantry and Anna decided to serve as well. Not long afterward, her husband deserted, not expecting the amount of carnage he was witness to. Anna stayed, however, and became the opposite of her husband: “brave, constant, tender possessed nerves of steel, and willing to join the fight as necessary”.

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She entered as a laundress but gained notoriety as a combat medic, providing instant care to wounded soldiers. Many times she was right there in the midst of bloody battles, with bullets & cannons going off all around her.....and one time a soldier exploded from a shell as she held him in her arms. Not just medical attention, but many times, she would pull the wounded to safety and kept a steady supply of water to the ones who didn't have long to live.

Union Major General Philip Kearney promoted her to sergeant and was killed in battle shortly afterward.

Anna had some close calls: she was almost captured during battles at Manassas and Bull Run. She was wounded in the hand at the Battle of Chancellorsville, thanks to a soldier who tried to hide behind her horse and was shot at by the enemy troops. It was at this battle that she brought coffee and hardtack for the officers and men to enjoy, refusing to leave the scene until all had been fed and the coffee was gone. She boosted morale wherever she went, including the battles at Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Potomac, and Williamsburg.

She was one of twenty women in the 2nd Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment and later became one of just two (some say three) women to receive the Kearny Cross Medal of Honor, reserved for the ones who "most distinguished themselves in battle”.

When the war was over in 1865, she returned to Detroit. By this time, she was free to marry again; whether her husband died, or was shot for desertion, or they divorced.....the reason hasn't been found. She married Charles E. Hooks the year she returned. From there, she began working for the U.S. Treasury.

Her husband Charles passed away in 1910 and Anna died in 1913 in Washington D.C. They were both buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia with full honors.

You can read MUCH more about Anna Etheridge with more intricate details here.


Annie Etheridge Blog


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