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Recommended Readings

Co. Aytch, Sam Watkins

Diary of a Confederate Soldier, John S. Jackman

Manassas to Appomattox, Edgar Warfield

Johnny Green of the Orphan Brigade: The Journal of a Confederate Soldier

Four Years in the Stonewall Brigade

Women Soldiers

Mrs. Mary Sawyer, who now lives at Sawyer's Springs, on Walden's Ridge, a short distance from Chattanooga, Tenn., has been a most remarkable woman in business as well as the social life of Rhea County, Tenn., where she was born and reared, and has an interesting history, During the war Mrs. Sawyer raised and equipped a company of young girls, which was mustered into the Confederate army. Mrs. Sawyer was Miss Mary McDonald, of Ross county. She was at the outbreak of the war, a young woman, in her teens, and the belle of Rhea county. As the Federal forces began encroaching Southward the original idea entered into the mind of Miss McDonald to raise a company of young girls for the Confederacy. This was in 1862, and she lost no time in carrying this idea into practical effect, organinzing a company of something over 100 girls. She was elected Captain of the company which was actually mustered into the service at Washington, Rhea county, Tenn., by Capt. W. T. Darwin, of General Bragg's army.

Most of the young women realized that the company was organized more as a bit of a pastime, but Capt. McDonald's foresight had long before seen a practical value, and no sooner were they mustered in than she began putting them through drills, teaching how to dress wounds, and was beginning to receive equipment from the Confederacy, the use of which she was setting about to teach her company, when the Federals entered Chattanooga.

Gen. Steadman sent a certain Capt. Wild up to Rhea county, who very ungallantry arrested the entire company, including the Captain, and brought them to Chattanooga where they were arranged before Gen. Steadman in his headquarters in what is now the local guards armory. Here the young women were requested to take the oath of allegiance to the Federal Government. Some of them were a trifle unruly, and Gen. Steadman was given more than one sample of Rhea county "sass," but when he finally threatened to send the entire company to Ohio the girls, urged by anxious relatives, all took the oath, and after dinner at the old Planter's House, returned to their homes.

A number of women now residing in Chattannoga were members and officers in this comapny, and entertain pleasant recollections of the time when the girls of Rhea county started to turn the tide of war in favor of the Confederacy.

SOURCE: The Adair County News, February 27, 1901.

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