Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Harriet Patience Dame.

Harriet P. Dame.
Taken in the field.
 Harriet Patience Dame, was bron 1815, North Barnstead, New Hampsphire, she was a nurse in Concord (NH) when the Civil War began. The Second Regiment of Volunteer Infantry began forming in April 1861, in response to President Lincoln's call for ninety-day enlistments. By May the administration had changed its mind about the duration of the War, and the majority of the Second Regiment's men reenlisted for the requested three-year period, during the first week of June 1861.

Harriet Dame wanted to accompany the Second Regiment as nurse to the unit. The doctors in Concord said she could not leave her position there, and the Regiment completed training at Portsmouth (NH) and headed for the troop train on June 20, 1861. A month later on July 21, 1861, the Second Regiment was fighting in The First Battle of Bull Run, within sight of Washington, D.C. It was a rude introduction to the carnage of the Civil War, for both the spectators who had come down from Washington for the day, as well as the combatants. The Second Regiment of New Hampshire Volunteers' Colonel, Hon. Gilman Marston, who had resigned his seat in the United States Congress for the glory of war, was severely wounded. Overall, the losses to the Second New Hampshire that day were 7 killed, 56 wounded and 46 missing. Nurse Harriet Dame, who had by now caught up with "her boys", had a sudden immersion in the catastrophe of battlefield medicine.

Harriet Dame stayed with the Second Regiment throughout the Civil War, except when on duty at field hospitals. Between 1861 - 1865 the Second Regiment marched more than 6,000 miles, fought in more than 20 pitched battles, and lost more than 1,000 of the 3,000 men who signed up or were assigned to the Second. Harriet Dame's fame as nurse on the front lines spread far and wide. She repeatedly declined high government office to recruit more nurses; twice captured in battle, she was promptly released with apologies and high praise by her captors.

Harriet P. Dame.
Taken in later life.

After the War the New Hampshire Legislature voted $500 to Miss Dame for extraordinary public service. She used the funds to build a summer cottage for the Second New Hampshire's veterans at The Weirs, a resort town on Lake Winnipesaukee. In 1867 the federal government awarded Miss Dame a job as a pension clerk in The Treasury, Washington, D.C., and she held that position for twenty-eight years until she broke both legs during 1895 and became an invalid.

Returning to Concord for her last years, Harriet Dame died April 24, 1900. Governor Frank Rollins and long lines of state militia participated in her funeral ceremony. In 1901 the State Legislature appropriated money so that the State House portrait might be painted. Harriet Dame's portrait is the first portrait of a woman to be hung in the State House. The City of Concord also named a school in her honor.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am teaching the Civil war in NH and wanted to link NH to the Civil War for my middle school studnets. Thank you so much for your article.