Letter: Three Civil War Nurses Buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

June 16, 2023

As Noreen Chase pointed out in her Opinion letter, many know Louisa May Alcott was a nurse during the Civil War; however, Annie Eliza Kimball Brown and Louisa Jane Whiting Barker, two other Civil War nurses, are buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

There is little written about Annie Eliza Kimball Brown. What is known is she met her husband while she was a nurse at a hospital in Washington, D.C., during the war. Her husband was from Concord, predeceased her, and was buried in his hometown. When Brown died, she joined her husband in Sleepy Hollow.

Conversely, much is written about Concord native Louisa Jane Whiting Barker. She spent most of her life in Concord but spent some time living in the South before the Civil War. Her experience there led her to write and publish a pamphlet entitled Slavery Upon the White Population, which is part of the pamphlet collection in the William Munroe Special Collections at the Concord Free Public Library. Barker addressed complex subjects in her pamphlet, including that of enslavement. 

Finally, a chapter in a book is devoted to her work as a nurse in the Civil War. She accompanied her husband, chaplain to the 14th Mass. Heavy Artillery, to war and devoted herself to nursing. Eventually, she was assigned nine hospitals to visit by the Sanitary Commission. Additionally, she kept a hospital for her husband’s regiment. Notably, Barker refused a salary from the Sanitary Commission. She asked only for her room and board.

Since all three nurses lived past the end of the war, they are ineligible for their names to be read on Memorial Day. Nevertheless, you can pay your respects to the nurses by visiting their graves. The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery map on the Town of Concord website can provide directions: https://concordma.gov/1956/Sleepy-Hollow-Cemetery

Beth van Duzer

Granite Post Road