Years of service
1st Rhode Island Infantry, 5th Rhode Island Infantry
Battles and wars
1842 (age 72–73) Kaffraria, South Africa
1915 (aged 72–73) Oxford, New York
Anna Etheridge, Frances Clayton, Pauline Cushman
Kady brownell exhibit at the graveyard of the atlantic april 28th 2012
Kady Brownell (1842 – January 5, 1915) was a vivandière who helped the Union Army during the American Civil War. She went with her husband when he joined a Rhode Island regiment. Brownell 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.
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 and married him in April 1861.
With the outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861, Robert joined the 1st Rhode Island Infantry. Brownell was determined to serve with him. She approached Governor Sprague who agreed to take her along to Washington and there met up with Robert. Colonel Ambrose Burnside, the regiment's commander, 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). Brownell remained in New Bern after the battle, aiding her injured husband. Upon his recovery, he was deemed unfit for battle, and not wanting to fight without her husband, both Brownells were discharged.
Following the Civil War, Brownell was the only female to receive discharge papers from the Union Army. In September 1870, she became a member of Elias Howe Jr. Post #3 of the Grand Army of the Republic in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She applied for a pension in 1882, and received her $8.00 per month allotment starting in 1884, compared to her husband's pension of $24.00 a month.
Brownell died on January 5th, 1915 at the Women's Relief Corps home in Oxford, New York. A funeral service was held for her in New York City on January 7, then her body was shipped to Providence by steamboat for a second funeral service. She is buried in Providence's North Burial Ground.
However, her husband is buried in an unmarked grave site in East Harrisburg Cemetery, in Pennsylvania.