Neither Heroine nor Fool: Anna Ella Carroll of Maryland

Neither Heroine nor Fool: Anna Ella Carroll of Maryland

Neither Heroine nor Fool: Anna Ella Carroll of Maryland

Neither Heroine nor Fool: Anna Ella Carroll of Maryland

Excerpt

I began my research on Anna Ella Carroll in 1982, certain I had discovered a much-maligned, forgotten heroine of American history, a woman who claimed responsibility for formulating the Union military strategy that culminated in the successful invasion of Tennessee in 1862, whom I would redefine and properly, place into the historiography of the Civil War period. Her claims were so extravagant that they had to be resolved and, curiously enough, had not been, despite the overwhelming number of works on the Civil War period in American history.

To try to find the truth about a woman surrounded by so much legend has been an enlightening and educational experience, not to mention a humbling one. Sorting out her story has made me aware of how complex our past is and how difficult biography as a craft is. The late Distinguished Teaching Professor of History at the Stale University College of New York, College at Cortland, Ralph Adams Brown, biographer of John Adams, had taught me that in my, sophomore year at college. He was right. To him I render thanks, as well as to Professors Ellis Johnson and Donald Stewart, who introduced me to history and to Anna Ella Carroll as the author of the Tennessee Campaign.

Carroll was one of the few women discussed in the Civil War course Stewart and Johnson taught at Cortland State. She was a legendary figure, and like all good legends, there was at least some sense and some truth to her claims to fame. Discovering the factual basis for the legend, however, turned out to be difficult. In part, the difficulties lay with source materials. Some of Carroll's papers had been preserved, but many had been lost dur-

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