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File:Kady Brownell CDV.jpg

Kady Brownell

Kady Brownell helped the Union army during the American Civil War. She went with her husband when he joined a Rhode Island regiment. Kady trained with the soldiers. She fought in battle and helped the injured. At the First Battle of Bull Run, she held the flag high even as Confederate bullets were flying.[1]


  1. Canon, Jill. Civil War Heroines. Santa Barbara: Bellerphon Books, 2000.

Kady Brownell was born in 1842 in a tent on a British army camp in Caffraria, South Africa of a French mother and Scottish father. Her father, Col. George Southwell, was on maneuvers at the time. She was named after her father's friend, Sir James Kady. Her frail mother died shortly after her birth. She was adopted raised by a couple until they immigrated to Providence, Rhode Islahiii paintnd where she was then raised by family and friends. In the early 1860s, Kady worked as a weaver in the mills of Providence, where she met and fell in love with Robert Brownell. With the start of the Civil War in April 1861, Robert joined the 1st Rhode Island Infantry. Kady was determined to enlist with him. She approached Governor Sprague who agreed to take her along to Washington and there met up with Robert. Colonel Burnside appointed her a Daughter of the Regiment and color bearer. She was an active participant in the battles of First Bull Run (1861) and after re-enlisting into the 5th RI Regiment with her new husband Robert Brownell, at New Bern (1862).

Following the Civil War, Kady was the only female to receive discharge papers from the Union Army. She became a member of the GAR, Grand Army of the Republic in Sept, 1870. She applied for a pension in 1882, and did receive her $8.00 per month allotment starting in 1884. She died in New York City in 1915. She is buried in Providence, RI at the North Burial Ground. However, her husband is buried in an unmarked grave site in East Harrisburg Cemetery, in Pa.

For more information on Katy Brownell see: Kady Brownell, a Rhode Island legend Minerva: Quarterly Report on Women and the Military, Summer, 2001 by Sara Bartlett