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Kady C. McKenzie Brownell


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Birth: 1842, South Africa
Death: Jan. 5, 1915 New York,


Kady McKenzie was born in Caffaria, South Africa, the daughter of Duncan and Alice McKenzie. By 1861, she was living in Rhode Island, U.S.A. At the outbreak of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln asked for volunteers, to serve for a term of three months. Therefore, Kady McKenzie enrolled as Daughter of the Regiment in the First Regiment Rhode Island Detached Militia (Infantry), commanded by Colonel (later Major General) A.E. Burnside. Kady was then nineteen years old, stood 5’ 3”, with a dark complexion, dark hair, and blue eyes, and had worked as a weaver before enrolling in the regiment. On April 17, 1861, Robert S. Brownell, Jr., whom Kady would later marry, enrolled as a private in Company H, of the same regiment. The regiment was mustered into national service on May 2, 1861, and on July 21, 1861, the regiment participated in the First Battle of Bull Run, Virginia. Kady was wounded that day, as the regiment retreated, when a piece of shot struck her in the upper third section of her right thigh, and she was treated by the regimental surgeon. Kady McKenzie and Robert Brownell, along with the rest of the regiment, were honorably discharged in Providence, Rhode Island, on August 1, 1861.

On October 17, 1861, Robert S. Brownell, Jr., enlisted as First Sergeant, Company A, Fifth Regiment Rhode Island Heavy Artillery, and Kady accompanied him. They were present at the battle of Newbern, North Carolina, March 14, 1862. There, First Sergeant Robert Brownell was wounded and Kady prevented a major catastrophe. According to Captain Jonathan M. Wheeler, who commanded Company A, “a report came that the rebels had flanked us, and were moving up a ravine in our rear, and on looking back saw a regiment clothed in gray overcoats and slouched hats. The command had been given to face by the rear flank, when Kady rushed forward and cried out, ‘Don’t fire; they are our men.’ But for this a New Hampshire regiment would have received a volley, and many men must have been killed.// He also states that after the battle she was untiring in her efforts for the sick and wounded soldiers….” Robert Brownell was absent on furlough until December 8, 1862, when he was discharged on a surgeon’s certificate of disability, so Kady never returned to the front.

On November 7, 1863, Kady McKenzie and Robert S, Brownell were married by the Rev. William McDonald of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in Providence, Rhode Island. The Brownells lived in Providence, and then moved to New York. In 1884, Kady Brownell received a pension as Daughter of the Regiment, First Regiment Rhode Island Detached Militia (Infantry), for her wound at the First Battle of Bull Run, by a Special Act of the United States Congress (see 48th Congress, 1st Session, Senate Report No. 524, and House of Representatives Report No. 1876). Kady and Robert Brownell resided at the New York State Women’s Relief Corps Home, Oxford, New York, when she died on January 5, 1915. Robert S. Brownell, Jr., died on September 29, 1915.

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