The 2012 celebration of Maryland’s Anna Ella Carroll Day is set for Saturday, August 25th in Dorchester County, Maryland. At the request of the national organization, Women in Military Service for America, and in partnership with the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center, The Friends of Anna Ella Carroll, a volunteer group dedicated to preserving and publicizing the extraordinary accomplishments of this unique 19th century woman, have set aside that day to celebrate her. The Sesquicentennial Observance of the Civil War also celebrates Ms. Carroll, often referred to as “The Woman Who Saved the Union” and “the unrecognized member of President Lincoln’s Cabinet.”
Anna Carroll, born at Kingston Hall in Somerset County and buried at Old Trinity Church in Church Creek, Dorchester County, Maryland was the well-educated daughter of Maryland Governor Thomas Carroll. Taught by her attorney father and well-versed in law and politics, Anna might have been a lawyer herself or held political office if times were different. She researched and wrote methods that would change policies on railroads, shipping, the Navy, and acted as unofficial advisor to President Abraham Lincoln in an age when women were supposed to “know their place.” That place did not include the male dominated halls of government.
At the onset of the Civil War, she aided then governor Thomas Holliday Hicks in ways that kept Maryland in the union. She provided Lincoln with legal interpretations which convinced him he had the right to declare war and issue the Emancipation Proclamation that ended slavery.
A contemporary said she could “scheme, connive, and maneuver as well as any man.” As a military strategist in the Civil War, her role was controversial. Her reports on the western front produced major tactics that helped doom southern secession. Typical of 19th century attitudes, however, her role was kept secret. The public could not know that the Union used plans created by a civilian; and, a woman at that.
When Anna Carroll died in 1894, deprived of honor, title, pension, and acknowledgement for her accomplishments, her life story was already considered a model by the Women’s Suffrage Movement. Unfortunately, she was not recognized by a Congress that refused to accept her achievements, reimburse her for money spent on printing on their behalf, and resented her potential place in history.
Until the 1970’s Carroll’s contributions were taught in Dorchester County schools along with other local history and was unique in preserving her memory as both legend and folklore. A goal of the Friends group is to re-establish her important place in the Dorchester County curriculum and on the national stage.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
11:00am: Opening ceremony at Spring Valley Bandstand, 206 High Street adjacent to the historic county courthouse. State delegate Addie Eckardt, county councilman Rick Price, and representatives from Senator Barbara Mikulski’s office will present proclamations to the Friends group. The program includes not only guest speakers but a few “bells and whistles” to add to the festivities.
11:00am – 3:00pm: R&D Carriage Service offers horse drawn carriage rides highlighting Cambridge and its waterfront. Pre-registration at 443-521-659.
1:00pm: Graveside memorial service, Old Trinity Church, 1716 Taylors Island Road, Church Creek, Maryland. Cannon salute by Civil War re-enactors Bill Smith and Jerry Horney; wreath laying procession; presentation of the colors.
4:00pm: Bethel AME Church, 623 Pine Street, Cambridge. An historical presentation by FREED (Female RE-Enactors of Distinction) features true stories of prominent Civil War era African Americans told by 21st century women dressed in 1863 garb. An auxiliary organization of the African American Civil War Museum in Washington, DC, the women will arrive by carriage. Wave to them as they progress through town. FREED’s mission is “…to educate the public and to promote the accomplishments of the African American Civil War soldiers and the women who supported their fight for freedom.” To accomplish their goal, they appear in schools, libraries, community groups, and programs of government agencies, social institutions, conferences and parades.
6:00pm: Showing of Lost River, the first film based on the life story of Anna Ella Carroll, at the Dorchester County Historical Society, 1003 Greenway Drive, Cambridge. The movie, produced and written by Arizona historian Bruce Bridegroom and generously donated to the Friends group, premiered in 2010 at the Hyatt Resort in Cambridge for an audience of 1,200. Movie only, $8; movie and finger sandwiches, liquid refreshments, cash bar, $18 with reservations only. For reservations, call 410-228-7953.
For general information, call 410-943-8833 or visit www.friendsofannaellacarroll.org