In Sarah’s War, Seeking Michigan pointed us to Michigan in Letters where they have a feature on Sarah Emma Edmonds Seelye, born in 1841 in New Brunswick, Canada. Sarah ran away from home at age 15 to escape her tyrannical father and an arranged marriage. After two years of living on her own, she disguised herself as a man and a Bible salesman. She was living in Flint at the start of the Civil War in 1861. After the fall of Fort Sumter, she volunteered for the Union army as Franklin (Frank) Thompson and was assigned to Flint’s Union Greys, a militia unit. Here’s the beginning of her letter to a friend regarding the accident that ultimately laid her low:
I herein give you a Statement of facts in regard to the accident referred to in my letter. Said accident occurred on the day of the 2nd battle of Bull Run, while on my way with the mail, from Washington, to our troops near Centerville.
I was trying with all my might to reach Berry’s Brigade before the battle commenced, and in order to do so, I took advantage of every near cut that I possibly could, by leaping fences and ditches instead of going a long way round.
When I had accomplished about half the distance between Washington and Centerville, I saw a chance to cut off a mile or more, by leaving the road and taking a short cut, which I thought best to take advantage of, but after having gone a considerable distance from the road, I found myself confronted by a very wide ditch, which I attempted to cross; but instead of leaping across it my mule reared and fell headlong into it, and I was thrown with such force against the side of the ditch, that I was stunned and unable to escape further injury from the frantic efforts of the mule to extricate himself from such an unpleasant position.
There was some water, and deep mud at the bottom of said ditch, and where the mule tried to get up, his feet stuck fast in the mud, and he would fall back and try again. Finally he succeeded in getting out, but how long I remained there I never knew, but the first sound that struck my ear was the booming of cannon, and the first thought that flashed across my brain was â€œThe mail! The mail!â€
Read on at CMU.