"Two young officers walked up on the other side of the street. One of them evidently was wounded as his throat was bandaged and he walked very feebly. They sat on the porch steps of a house. My mother's sympathies were excited and she sent my brother, who was fourteen years old, across the street to ask him if she could do anything for him.
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"He came over to thank her, said he had been wounded by a ball, which had gone through his throat just missing the spine. He was from Boston and was waiting to feel well enough to make the journey home."
It seems the "tall and very good-looking" gentleman was forced to stay in "wretched quarters" as no hotel or hospital space was available in Hagerstown. Mrs. Kennedy offered him a room and care in her home until he was able to travel.
On making his formal introduction as Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., the family realized he was the son of Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, the well-known author. Of course, this young man went on to greatness of his own as a justice of the United States Supreme Court. A short stay under the care of Mrs. Kennedy made him well enough to begin his journey home.
Mrs. Findlay's father, Dr. Kennedy, who died in 1855, was a son of Thomas Kennedy, a Scottish immigrant resident of Washington County and the Maryland legislator who authored what has long been called the Jew Bill, possibly the first piece of civil rights legislation in the country. This legislation removed the impediment to Jews of holding either military or political office in the state.
The Kennedy family maintained a long correspondence with Capt.Holmes and other dignitaries of the times. These letters and a number of documents are part of a large archival collection kept by the Washington County Historical Society as resource materials in its Simms Jamieson Research Library.
A mural depicting the Rochester House is shown on the wall around the parking lot that the City of Hagerstown created by tearing down the Rochester House at that corner. A painting of the house is located within the Miller House Museum and photos are in the archival collection.
Clara Barton discovers Mary Galloway
Mary Galloway might not have achieved fame through her life after the Battle of Antietam, but her presence there fits into an interesting aspect of the Civil War, that of women masquerading as men to serve as soldiers. Most of these women remained in disguise until they had been killed or received serious wounds.
The latter was the case when Clara Barton, who went on to found the American Red Cross, literally uncovered the correct gender of the "soft-faced" boy with a chest wound. The patient's reluctance to have "his" wounds treated and "his" overall appearance first aroused Barton's suspicions. Galloway had concealed her identity in order to follow her husband-to-be into battle.
Barton shielded Galloway, helped her to locate her true love in a Washington Hospital and then coaxed her to return to her home for recuperation. Barton later learned that the couple named a daughter after her.
According to the National Archives, at least four women were identified at Antietam. Other records put the number at eight, seven Union and one Confederate.
Linda Irvin-Craig is executive director of the Washington County Historical Society. For more information, go to www.washcomdhistoricalsociety.org.