The Secret Weapon in the American Civil War

Anna Ella Carroll was the oldest of 8 children in a politically active family. Her father, who would become Governor of Maryland when she was in her teens, nurtured her education and political interests. She became influential in the administrations of Presidents Taylor and Fillmore but had little confidence in Abraham Lincoln when he became President.

Anna was anti-slavery and celebrated the election of President Lincoln by freeing her slaves. As the succession of southern states appeared imminent, she fought to keep Maryland in the Union. Her efforts led to her defending the President in a powerfully constructed political pamphlet. This drew the attention of the President, who asked to meet with her.

The result of the meeting with the President was an invitation to serve as an advisor to him. She was asked to observe and analyze the war effort on the western front. She strongly urged the President to change strategies from engaging the Confederate army along the Tennessee River as opposed to the Mississippi River. The President agreed and General Ulysses Grant carried out the campaign. The result was a series of important victories for Union forces.

Anna’s role in formulating the strategy was kept secret and General Grant was credited with the strategy. Anna continued to advise the President on political and military matters. She had been asked to develop plans for the reconstruction after the war, but her plans were largely ignored after President Lincoln was assassinated.

When Grant became President, Anna’s advice was again sought out. Up to this time, Anna had never been paid for her service or expenses. Her requests for compensation were never honored, and Anna’s personal financial resources were drained. She eventually received a pension of $50 per month.

Hidden heroes often devote themselves to their life’s work even though they may never receive the compensation they deserve. To them, the causes they espouse are more important than money. Unfortunately, their lack of concern for compensation can often lead to personal financial ruin. As was the case with Anna, fame is not what they pursue. Their reward is seeing that their beliefs and values have an impact.

* * *

“Some people obtain fame, others deserve it.” – Doris Lessing (Novelist)

How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.