Celebrating the True Life Story of Anna Ella Carroll, Eastern Shore Native, Military Strategist and Adviser to President Abraham Lincoln.

Her Involvement in the Civil War was Kept a Secret . . . Until Now!

(CAMBRIDGE, Md.)  More than a century following her death, after being ignored, oppressed, and—literally—erased from history, Anna Ella Carroll is finally getting the last word. Carroll was an intriguing and atypical 19th century woman who emerged from the male-dominated realm of war, politics, and diplomacy. As a key military strategist, Presidential advisor, and “unofficial” member of Abraham Lincoln’s Cabinet, Carroll was probably the most powerful woman in American during the Civil War. Biographers note that she could “scheme, connive, and maneuver as well as any man.”

Carroll was born at Kingston Hall in Somerset County, and later lived in Dorchester County. She was a war spy, politician, Unionist writer, pamphleteer, author and legal expert. She is credited with helping to prevent Maryland’s secession from the Union. President Lincoln sent her, accompanied by an army officer, to observe and report on the War on the western front. Her reports resulted in major military strategies that eventually doomed the Confederacy and ended the intervention of the European nations on the behalf of the South.

Carroll is credited with changing the direction of the Civil War by devising the crucial Tennessee River Plan. The plan laid the groundwork of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s successful campaign against the Confederates that hastened the end of the war. This plan changed the invasion route from the Mississippi to the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, resulting in the first two real victories for the Union. Fearing that Union generals and soldiers would not follow a plan devised by a woman civilian, Lincoln and his Cabinet kept Carroll’s authorship a secret; thus, the Tennessee River was the “lost river.” Carroll also presented legal arguments and opinions as to why Lincoln could issue the Emancipation Proclamation and detailed his war powers authority.

Evidence exists that Lincoln had intended to honor Carroll after the war with a title and pension equal to that of a Major General. However, after Lincoln was assassinated, Carroll’s male counterparts, assisted by General Grant himself, conspired to take credit for her successes and totally erase her from history.

When Carroll died in 1894, deprived of honor, title, pension, and acknowledgement for her accomplishments, her life story was already considered a model for the Women’s Suffrage Movement. Dorchester County school marms began including Anna Ella Carroll as part of their Civil War

history lessons. These lessons were taught in Dorchester County schools well into the 1970s, with that community being the only one in the nation preserving Carroll’s memory. Although on August 1958, August 29 was proclaimed Anna Ella Carroll Day in Maryland, she has been out of the historical limelight since.

Six books have been written about her, including Great Necessities: The Life, Times, and Writings of Ann Ella Carroll, 1815-1894, a 700-page book that took New York author C. Kay Larsen twelve years to research. Larson describes Carroll, as “hands down, the most important political woman of the 19th century.”

Carroll’s role in history has also been kept alive by the Friends of Anna Ella Carroll, a small group of senior citizens from Dorchester County on a mission to keep her legacy alive. The Friends, with the support of the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center in Baltimore, have joined to bring Carroll’s story to light and gain national acknowledgment of the contributions she made.

As part of this initiative, the Friends have commissioned noted portrait artist, Laura Era, a native of Dorchester County and co-owner of Troika Gallery in Easton to paint a stylized replica of Francis Bicknell Carpenter’s famous 1862 painting “The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln.” This immense painting hangs over the west staircase in the Senate wing of the U.S. Capitol. The original painting prominently depicts an empty chair draped with a red shawl, along with maps and notes similar to those Carroll carried. Many historians feel it was Carpenter’s way of acknowledging Carroll as the unrecognized member of the Cabinet. The new painting will include the addition of Miss Carroll and will be titled “Maryland’s Version of Signing The Emancipation Proclamation.”

Tucson attorney, writer and history buff Bruce Bridegroom spent almost $1 million to executive produce “The Lost River” (www.lostrivermovie.com), a film about Carroll’s life. The film is produced by Joe Dunlap and directed by Jason Urban. Veteran New York stage actress Tami Sutton portrays Anna Ella Carroll. Fritz Klein is Abraham Lincoln, a role he has been playing since 1976 in productions on the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and the feature “No Retreat from Destiny.” Additional cast include James Reeves as General Grant, Wayne Strickler as General Winfield Scott, Joe Jones as Lemuel Evans, and Reb Moorehead as Edwin Stanton. The film was made with the intention of finally bringing recognition to Carroll’s life.

On November 20, the Friends of Anna Ella Carroll in partnership with the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center in Baltimore will co-host an Anna Ella Carroll Appreciation Day event at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay in Cambridge. The event will feature the world premier film screening of “The Lost River.” The film screening takes place at 7 p.m., with a special pre-reception at 5 p.m., including special guests, film producer Bruce Bridegroom, actors Fritz Klein and Tami Sutton (both in costume), Brigadier General Wilma L. Vaught, President of Military Women in Service and the driving force to build a memorial to women in military service in Arlington Cemetery, as well as other VIPs. During the event, Laura Era will unveil her completed painting.

According to Frank Bittner of the Friends of Anna Ella Carroll, “This story is a diamond in the ruff that needed to be told. Miss Carroll not only called Dorchester County her home, but she is also buried here. Over the years, there have been many dedicated local citizens who have been determined to keep her memory alive. We are proud to be able to help preserve her honor by hosting this world premiere here in Cambridge. It truly is a storybook ending.”

Proceeds from the event will benefit the development of local history school curriculums. Tickets to the film premier are $12.50 in advance or $15 at the door. To attend both the pre-reception and the film screening, the cost is $35. To purchase tickets or for more information, contact the Friends of Anna Ella Carroll at 410.943.1694 or the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center at 410.767.0675 or www.MDWomensHeritageCenter.org. Tickets can also be purchased at the Dorchester County Visitor’s Center (410.228.1000) or Troika Gallery in Easton (410.770.9190).                                                -more-

Event Schedule

9am - 12 Noon
Old Trinity Church Guided Tour

North America's Oldest Episcopal Church in Continuous Use, Est. 1692
Burial place of Anna Ella Carroll and her father, Gov. Thomas King Carroll of Maryland
1716 Taylors Island Road, Church Creek MD 21622

12 Noon
Opening Ceremony & Wreath Laying at Old Trinity Church
Opening Remarks by Brig. General Wilma L. Vaught USAF Ret
Color Guard of Honor
1716 Taylors Island Road, Church Creek MD 21622

Noon - 4:00pm
Afternoon Tea at The Meredith House
Colonial Mansion, Built in 1760
Sweet & Savory Teas - $20 per person / with Finger Sandwiches - $25 per person
Sponsored by The Dorchester County Historical Society
La Grange Plantation - 902 La Grange Avenue Cambridge MD 21613
Ticketed separately. For information and reservations, call 410.228.7953

5:00pm - 6:30pm
Celebrity Reception & Unveiling of New Painting
TICKETS $35 in Advance Only - Includes Hors d’oeuvres with Cash Bar PLUS

Admission to Film Premiere at 7pm
of Laura Era's “Maryland’s Version of Signing The Emancipation Proclamation”
MEET Filmmaker Bruce Bridegroom, Fritz Klein & Tami Sutton - Actors who portrayed Abraham Lincoln and Anna Ella Carroll in “The Lost River,” Brig. Gen. Wilma L. Vaught USAF Ret, Artist Laura Era, C. Kay Larson - Author of Great Necessities), and many other VIPS.

MUSIC provided by UMES Concert Choir (Dr. Sheila M Harleston, Director) 

Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay, 100 Heron Blvd., Cambridge MD 21613

World Premiere Film Screening of “The Lost River”
Advanced Tickets - $12.50           At The Door - $15.00
Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay, 100 Heron Blvd., Cambridge MD 21613

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