A Determined Lady, She Assisted in Healing the Sick and Wounded
By John T. Marck
Ella Palmer was born in Tennessee in 1829. When the war began, she was widowed with a five-year-old daughter. When the Confederate Government asked for help from its citizens, she and her daughter responded to Chattanooga, where they found sick and wounded soldiers lying on the floor in a makeshift hospital, having no blankets to keep them warm. With her daughter, she gathered all her own worldly goods and took them to this hospital where she also took charge as the head matron.
Although staffed by only men, they welcomed her help. While the Battle of Shiloh was raging, she traveled to Corinth and worked tirelessly day and night in a church tending to the sick and wounded. Following this she went to Lauderdale Springs, Mississippi to help those suffering from typhoid fever. During the war, Palmer was forced to constantly stay on the move, either because the Union army neared, or another hospital was needed elsewhere.
During one of these moves, the male surgeons were planning on leaving behind seven wounded soldiers that they believed were near death. Not hearing of this, Palmer insisted that they be brought along, and got her way, returning six of them to good health. During her travel to Auburn, Alabama she was involved in a train accident and injured when the train in which she was traveling went over a trestle. Through her own determination, after three weeks of recovery, she went to Auburn to continue her work.
At war's end, she and her daughter returned to Tennessee, moving to Colorado in 1873. Here she studied mineralogy and became an expert assayer. Not long before she died on November 7, 1909 at the age of eighty, she discovered gold near Lake City, Colorado.
Copyright © 1990-2022 by John T. Marck. All Rights Reserved. This article and their accompanying pictures, photographs, and line art, may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author.