Mary Catherine Wren Upton Sharp

Nurse, Company F, 7th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry

"In Her Own Words"

Here is an article published by the St. Louis Post Dispatch and judging by the dates in the article must have been published about 1927, It ia about my gr-grandmother, Mary Catherine Wren Upton Sharp, it is rather long, but cannot see anyway to shorten it without leaving out important information. It mentions the Union, I think that refers to the Vandalia Union, and may have been originally published by them.

A very interesting story was recently published by a reporter of the St. Louis Post-
Dispatch, who had interviewed Mrs Catherine Sharp, now residing in Vera. As this aged lady is well known here, we publish most of the story. Mrs Sharp gave the Union a pleasant call a week or two ago, though she is 88 years old, she is still in good health and in possession of her faculities.

Hardships of a calvary unit in the civil War were borne as valiantly by Mrs Catherine Sharp of Vera during her service of 2 years and seven months as a war nurse, as by her husband, Thomas Upton, who was a member of the Seventh Illinois Cavalary, Co. F.

Mr Upton preceded her into the service, but not yet her husband. He enlisted in August 1861, obtaining a furlough, he returned home and was married November 14, 1861 at Salem Ill. A month later she enlisted and joined the same regiment as a nurse. They remaine at Camp Butler until Dec. 19 and then went to Cape Girardeau, Mo. The campaign led them through Mo., Miss Al.,Ga., and the Carolinas.

While her husband was paid $13 a month and furnished equipment and clothing. Mrs Upton recieved $12 amonth and furnished her own horse and eqipment, as well as clothing, although she had little extra wearing apparel. She carried only that which could be packed in the saddle bags strapped behind her side saddle. Once a new dress was sent to her from Mo., but she never wore it. A Confederate attack cut the unit off from its source of supply and it seemed that starvation was imminent,"Even the usual hardtack and sowbelly would have tasted good then" Mrs Sharp recalls. The confederate officers came to the hospital unit when she refused to heed the advice of her Colonel to "run for your life," and ordered he to make them coffee. this she refused tod and they went away without molesting her, even after she refused to assist in burning the tents of the Union soldiers.

But the returning Union soldiers told of seeing fragments of her new dress she had used as bandages for the wounds of the enemy. So she went without a new dress for sometime.
Being the only woman with the regiment she went into active campaigns and did not see another woman for 6 months. Meanwhile she rode thousands of miles under the same conditions as were encountered by the soldiers, of whicvh her husband was one, who was cooking for the hospital unit. Among the major engagements in which her regiment participated was at Cornersville, Miss and the battle of Corinth, at the latter place the Confederates captured a large number of Union soldiers, but the hospital unit was not molested. Two northern women who were visiting their husbands were taken prisioner and sent to Savannah, Ga. where they were released later, their husbands were sent to Liberty Prision.

"It was hard work," Mrs Sharp said. she suffered no lasting effects. She is now 88 years old and is in good health. She is one of fewer than 25 women who nursed the Northern soldiers and who are now living in the U.S. She recieves $50 a month pension(was $30 in 1924) although she did not apply for the pension until the death of her second husband. Mr. Upton died 40 years ago (1878) she married James Sharp in 1898. "There was but one doctor to a regiment," she said I was the only nurse, except when the hospital was full, then men were detailed to help me. " I didn't mind it though, I weighed 180 lbs. in those days and I fared well."

Her brother, Gideon Wren, was a member of the same company as her husband, but he died of measels. there was no Red Cross service during the Civil War. The volunteer nurses were the only women accompaning the invading army.

"Abraham Lincoln visited us after the "Battle of Corinth" she recalls, I believe he was the homliest man I ever saw, but the kindliest. He came to the hospital and shook hands with all the boys, seemed so sad over the war.

General Grant sat outside our tent on a stump and directed the battle. I remember his white horse that was shot out from under him. We served a long time under Gen Pope but came in contact with Gen. Grant often. I did some laundry work for Gen. Pope a few times."You know the General had to be dressed cleaner than the men." "I rarely ever heard an oath," she said, the soldiers were gentlemen. Uptons 3 year enlistment, having expired the pair returned to their Southern Ill. home, where they lived until his death


They were the parents of four children.

Thomas Upton, Elk Point, S.D.
Samuel Upton, St. Elmo, IL
Wren Bozette, Spokane Wash.
Jennie Williams, Aurora, Neb.

Many thanks to Joyce E. Hamilton who submitted this article.

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