Kady brownell

Kady Brownell
Born 1842
Kaffraria, South Africa
Died 1915 (aged 72–73)
New York City
Place of burial North Burial Ground, Providence, Rhode Island
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch Union Army
Years of service 1861–1865
Unit 1st Rhode Island Infantry
5th Rhode Island Infantry
Battles/wars American Civil War

Kady Brownell (1842 – January 14, 1915)[1] was a vivandière[2] who 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.[3]


Kady Brownell was born in 1842 in a tent on a British army camp in Kaffraria, 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 Island, 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 First Battle of Bull Run (1861), and after re-enlisting into the 5th Rhode Island Infantry with her new husband Robert Brownell, at the Battle of 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 Grand Army of the Republic in September 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 Pennsylvania.[4]


  • Grefe, C. Morgan. "Sourcing a Rhode Island Legend." Rhode Island History 70, no. 1 (Winter/Spring 2012): 31–42.
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