Anna Etheridge: A Civil War Heroine

Anna Etheridge (Image from

A Heroine.

There is in the 3d Michigan Infantry a real heroine of the war, Anna Etheridge by name. Her father was formerly a man of wealth and influence in Detroit, and Anna in early youth was reared in the lap of luxury, but misfortune overtook him, and broken down in fortune and spirit, he removed to Wisconsin, where he died, leaving our heroine, at the age of 12 years, penniless and almost friendless. At the outbreak of the rebellion she was in Detroit on a visit, and with nineteen other girls volunteered to accompany the 2d and 3rd Michigan Regiments to the seat of war, as nurses. All the others have long since abandoned the field, but she manifests her determination to remain with her regiment until it returns home. She has been with it in nearly every fight — not to the rear, but to the front, under fire, where she assists the wounded as they fall, and has doubtless been the means of saving many valuable lives.

She is provided with a horse, and when the battle commences, gallops to the front, and there remains until it is ended. when the regiment or brigade to which she is attached moves, she rides with the surgeons, or ambulance train, and at the bivouac takes her blanket and sleeps on the ground like a true soldier. So far she has made several narrow escapes — at one time while engaged dressing a man’s wounds on the field, a shell striking him and tearing his body to atoms.

At Bull Run, unaided, she removed a number of our wounded, under a cross fire, to a place of safety, staying by them until after our rear guard of cavalry had left, when she made her way on foot to Centreville, walking in the night, and evading the enemy, who were all around her. General Birney, at one time her commander, mentions her for distinguished bravery in general orders, and cause her to be decorated with the Cross of Honor, which she prominently wears. Gen. Berry, at on time commanding a brigade to which she was attached, spoke of her as having been under as hot a fire from the enemy as himself. She is scarcely ever absent from the command, where she is in camp, usually superintending the cooking, &c., at brigade or division headquarters.

From her association of the last three years it would be natural to suppose she would lose much of her femininity of character, which she has not. She is quiet, modest, and unreproachable in deportment, and exemplary in character — no vulgar word passes her lips. She is 24 years of age, 5 feet 3 inches in height, complexion fair, though now much bronzed, hair light and cut short, and altogether decidedly good looking. She has numerous tokens and letters of acknowledgment from those she has assisted at perilous times, one of which, just shown to me, is a letter from a dying private of an Ohio regiment, containing expression of the most heartfelt gratitude for her efforts to save his life at a time when surgeons and others passed him by, refusing him assistance. It contained a pressed flower, which, he remarked, was all he had to give, “precious to him as the gift of a sainted mother.”

The Adams Centinel (Gettysburg, PA)- Aug 23, 1864

NOTE: In the above 1963 article, it states Anna received a clerkship in Washington D.C.,  to help care for her aged father, while in the first article, it states he was dead. I located her in the 1870 and 1880 censuses, which show her living with Charles Hooks, her husband, and listed as a housewife. She did receive a pension for her work during the war. I suppose she could have had the clerkship before she married,  while taking care of her father, as oftentimes some of the details in articles turn out to be incorrect.


After one of the numerous skirmishes Annie was missed. The boys who loved her so well, immediately reported to Sheridan that Annie must have been taken prisoner. Sheridan answered “No, I do not think so, she must be attending to our wounded;” but immediately mounted his horse and rode as near the enemy’s lines as possible; using his field-glass he discovered Annie in their camp.

He rode back to the boys, and, pointing in the direction from which he had come, said, “Boys, Annie is there.” Without further command or order there was a general rush to the rescue. A triumphant rescue it was, for they returned not only with Annie, but the boys who had been taken prisoners with her.

Title: Our Army Nurses
Author: Mary Gardner Holland
Publisher: B. Wilkins & Co., 1895
pages 596-600 (Google book LINK)


Hail, heroine of the battle-field!
Sweet angel of a zeal divine!
Hail, maiden, whose device and shield,
Sculptured in tears and prayers, will shine,
On Love’s eternal column reared
In memory of the martyred dead,
To be, through coming time, revered,
And sacred to the pilgrim’s tread!

Hail, dauntless maid! whose shadowy form,
Borne like a sunbeam on the air,
Swept by amid the battle-storm,
Cheering the helpless sufferers there,
Amid the cannon’s smoke and flame,
The earthquake roar of shot and shell,
Winning, by deeds of love, a name
Immortal as the brave who fell.

Hail, angel! whose diviner spell
Charmed dying heroes with her prayer,
Stanching their wounds amid the knell
Of death, destruction, and despair.
Thy name by memory shall be wreathed
Round many desolate hearts in prayer;
By orphan lips it shall be breathed,
And float in songs upon the air.

And History’s pages shall embalm
The heroine’s deeds in lines of fire;
Her life shall prove a hallowed charm,
And every loyal heart inspire.
Press on, press on! in glory move!
Unfading laurels shall be thine
To gem the victor-crown of Love,
And sparkle in the realms divine!

Also from the same book:

Many and many a soldier owes his life to “gentle Anna’s” intrepidity. More than once, when the troops showed signs of retreating, she rushed to the front, seized the colors, and rallied them to a charge, shaming many into doing their duty.

Published: 1866
pages 513-518 (Google book LINK)

Title: Session laws
Author: United States
Publisher: G.P.O., 1887 (Google book LINK)

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