The men of the Union Army suffered deprivations we can only imagine. The women and children left behind, some forever, struggled as well with meeting their basic needs for food, clothing and shelter. Our ancestors were a determined people, or we would not be here today.
Some women heard the call to duty on the battlefields themselves. From Scipio and surrounding areas, some women became nurses and gave the men comfort and care during the midst of sometimes horrible circumstances.
Many of us know of the work done by local legend Harriett Tubman, a woman of valor and courage rarely surpassed. You may be surprised to learn of some other local women who followed our troops into battle and helped many survive the cruel wounds and unsanitary conditions of battlefield hospitals and emergency surgeries.
One such woman was "Mother" Mary Brown Newcomb. Born in Scipio, she was totally untrained but chose to serve as a nurse for about 4 years. When her husband Hiram signed up with the 11th Illinois Volunteers, Mary accompanied him. Hiram died of his wounds early in the war, and after seeing to his burial, Mary returned to the battlefields and continued as a nurse.
She did receive a nurse's pension, and she wrote a book about her experiences that provides much detail to the conditions she and our patriots endured titled "Four Years Experience in the War." There is a copy of this book at the Scipio Town Offices.
A book has also been written about her, titled "Mother Mary Ann Brown Newcomb: Effingham Civil War Nurse" by Linda Hatke Ruhall RN PhD. Linda had contacted me when I was doing some research on "Mother Mary" and shared that Effingham IL was the final resting place for this brave woman.