Lorinda Anna “Annie” Blair Etheridge (May 3, 1839– January 23, 1913 ) was a Union nurse and vivandière who served during the American Civil War. She was one of only two women to receive the Kearny Cross. She was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 2010.
Anna Etheridge was born Lorinda Anna Blair in 1839 in Wayne County, Michigan. In 1860, Anna married James Etheridge. At the outbreak of the American Civil War, Etheridge enlisted in 2nd Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment, serving as a nurse and Vivandiere (Daughter of the Regiment). She had wanted to nurse, having cared for her father before his death. Before the war, Etheridge worked in a hospital with a poor reputation for patient care, which she had attempted to improve.
Etheridge was famous for her courageous work under fire. She was noted for removing wounded men from combat. Etheridge embodied the ideal daughter of the union. She was “brave, constant, tender possessed nerves of steel, and willing to join the fight as necessary, encourage[d] the men to greater valor, or remain[ed] in the rear treating wounds” In 1862 all women were ordered out of camp by General George B. McClellan temporarily. “Gentle Annie” then worked for the Hospital Transport Service, a subcommittee of the U.S. Sanitary Commission. Assigned to the Knickerbocker, under Amy M. Bradley, she aided in the transportation of wounded men from the ports of Alexandria, VA to Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington. By early 1863, she had returned to Vivandiere duties in the Army of the Potomac. For her work and courage, she received the Kearny Cross.
After the war she married and worked in the United States Treasury Department, eventually receiving a monthly pension of $25 for her unpaid military service. She died in 1913 and was buried with veteran’s honors in Arlington National Cemetery.
Gentle Annie: The True Story of a Civil War Nurse, a children’s book written by Mary Francis Shura, is a “fictionalized biography” of Anna Etheridge. Available through MelCat.
For further reading, see:
- Eggleston, Larry G. (2003). Women in the Civil War: Extraordinary Stories of Soldiers, Spies, Nurses, Doctors, Crusaders, and Others. McFarland. p. 134.
- Hall, Richard (2003). Patriots in Disguise: Women Warriors of the Civil War. New York: Paragon House.
- Leonard, Elizabeth D. (1999). All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
- Canon, Jill (2000). Civil War Heroines. Santa Barbara, CA: Bellerophon Books. On order.