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Jul. 16: Marietta remembers an unsung hero

Many USA Civil War soldiers are buried in Marietta National Cementery.
Many USA Civil War soldiers are buried in Marietta National Cementery.
Image by Zik Armstrong

Here’s what happened.

Emma Stephenson died in Marietta, Georgia on July 16, 1864. Most Americans have never heard of her. But as more of us learn her story, we will help to ensure that she will never be forgotten.

Here’s why it matters.

Ms. Stephenson (also respectfully and affectionately remembered as Emma) was an emancipated black slave who followed Union General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army as it marched toward Atlanta. She became a nurse, serving the 17th Army Corps.

Following the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, the Union Army converted a Confederate building (located in what is now Marietta Square, Georgia) into a hospital. Emma cared for soldiers who were suffering from battle wounds or diseases. She ultimately succumbed to one of those diseases, but not before saving dozens of lives.

Ms. Stephenson’s story has become more widely known through the work of Brad Quinlin, a Civil War historian. For more fascinating stories about the Civil War, go to Mr. Quinlin’s website: www.tolearnyourhistory.com. The National Park Service also features Emma’s story in the film “Kennesaw: One Last Mountain” at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. Moreover, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) will feature it in its new five-part series, Civil War: The Untold Story.

Here’s an interesting fact!

Emma Stephenson is buried in Marietta National Cemetery, on a hill overlooking the graves of many soldiers she had also tried to save. On July 16, 2014 at 7:00 PM, a Celebration of the Life of Emma Stephenson will be held at her gravestone.