Women War Workers 1861 - 1865

Women War Workers 1861 - 1865 (HMJTW)

Location: Washington, DC 20319
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 51.938', W 77° 0.958'

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During the Civil War the Washington Arsenal was both the largest Federal arsenal and the one closest for shipping its war materials to the various fighting fronts in Virginia. Here thousands of caissons and limbers, wagons and ambulances, cannon balls and mortar shells were built and stored. This heavy work was done mostly by male members of the Ordnance Department and civilian contract employees.

The Civil War saw the first large scale employment of women outside the home. Because of their superior finger dexterity hundreds of women were employed here to hand make small arms cartridges. By June of 1864 they were turning out 120,000 cartridges per day.

On Friday, June 17, 1864, a tragic accident occurred when a spark flew through an open window and ignited an open bin of gunpowder. Twenty-one women war workers were killed. Others were saved due to the heroism of Storekeeper E.M. Stebbins and officers and soldiers of the 16th and 19th US Infantry Regiments.

The roaring noise of the tragic explosion came like the shock of an earthquake. Despite all the suffering of the war this catastrophe sent a pall of intense sorrow over Washington.

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton notified the Commandant of the Arsenal that all expenses for the funeral and internment would be paid for by the government. He further stated: "You will not spare any means to express the respect and sympathy of the government for the deceased and their surviving friends."

The funeral cortege was led by President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of War Stanton. It numbered 150 carriages and took half an hour to pass. They died doing their duty for their country.

The remains of four victims were interred in Mt. Olivet Cemetery under Catholic auspices. They were: Johanna Connors, Bridget Dunn, Margaret Horan, and Rebeca Hull.

The remaining seventeen victims were buried at Congressional Cemetery near the Middle Gate close to the Western Wall. Their 25-foot tall marble monument is adorned by the figure of a young woman.

Women War Workers Killed June 17, 1864
1. Melissa Adams
2. Annie Bache
3. Emma Baird
4. Lizzie Brahler
5. Bettie Branagan
6. Kate Brosnaham
7. Mary Burroughs
8. Emily Collins
9. Johanna Connors
10. Bridget Dunn
11. Susan Harris
12. Margaret Horan
13. Rebecca Hull
14. Eliza Lacey
15. Louisa Lloyd
16. Sallie McElfresh
17. Julia McEwen
18. Ellen Roche
19. Pinkey Scott
20. W.E. Tippett
21. Margaret Yonson
Placed ByFort Myer Military Community
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, October 6th, 2014 at 1:40pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 325096 N 4303797
Decimal Degrees38.86563333, -77.01596667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 51.938', W 77° 0.958'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 51' 56.28" N, 77° 0' 57.48" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)202
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 408 4th Ave, Washington DC 20319, US
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