Foster: Susie King Taylor


Susie King Taylor, who was also was known as Susan Baker was born into slavery at a young age. Susie King Taylor was born in Grest Plabtation in Liberty County, Georgia on August 6th, 1848. Out of nine siblings, Mrs. Susie Taylor was the eldest of them all. At the age of eleven, Susie Taylor’s owner allowed her to move in with her grandmother in Savannah, Georgia. During the Civil War, Mrs. Taylor was the very first African American Army nurse. She helped work with an all black army troop that was called the United States Colored troops (33rd regiment). This is where she met her husband, Edward King who also served four years during the Civil War. Even though Susie Taylor worked hard, she was not paid for her service. Besides being a nurse, Susie Taylor worked as a teacher as well. She was extremely smart to be a slave, she could read and write really good. she made sure she spread the knowledge that she learned and taught them to free blacks and other slaves. Mrs. Taylor served as a nurse for the Civil War up until 1865. 

Susie King Taylor wrote a book about her life. Her book tells her experiences as an African American nurse during the American Civil War. The book is the only one, ever written, that tells what it was like to be an African American nurse during the Civil War! The title of the book is Reminiscences of My Life in Camp. Shortly after the war began, Taylor had to return to the plantation where she had been born, her grandmother had been arrested for singing hymns. A little later, Taylor and her uncle’s family along with other former slaves took refuge on St. Simons Island, off the coast of Georgia, where the Union Army was encamped. The Union soldiers realized that Susie was educated and they asked her to organize a school for the slave families who were there. Her school was the first publicly acknowledged freedmen’s school in Georgia. She taught about forty children during the day and a number of adults at night. Susan Baker King Taylor died in 1912 at the age of sixty-four in Boston and she is currently interred at Mount Hope Cemetery in Roslindale, Massachusetts.


White: Mary Elizabeth Bowser


Mary Elizabeth Bowser was an American freed slave who served as a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War.

Mary was born as a slave, circa 1839, in Richmond, Virginia, to slave owner John Van Lew, a wealthy hardware merchant. Following his death in 1843, his wife and children decided to free all of their slaves. Bowser included.

Like many slaves at the time, she remained free but stayed to work for the family as a servant.

The wife and mother of the family, Elizabeth Van Lew, saw intelligence in Mary. Elizabeth, being an abolitionist and Quaker, sent Mary to the Quaker School for Negroes in Philidelphia to be educated.

Elizabeth had strong ties to the Union. She was instrumental in establishing a spy system in the Confederate capitol, and using Mary was probably the best thing she could have done.

Mary was intelligent. She could act as though she was not and work in the house as a servant to listen in on conversations and relay her findings back to Elizabeth who would inform the Union.

Mary became “Ellen Bond” a slow-thinking but able servant, who worked in the Confederate White House for Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his wife, Varina.

Mary would listen in and give information to Thomas McNiven, a baker who made deliveries to the House. He would then deliver the information to Elizabeth who would take it to the Union.

Davis knew there was a leak in the house because the Union kept finding out all of their moves but did not suspect it was Mary until almost the end of the war. She fled the house in January of 1865 but not before one last move against the Confederacy.

She attempted to burn down the Confederate White House. It was a failed attempt but she made it out alive.

The U.S. government honored Mary for her work in the U.S. Civil War by inducting her into the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame, in 1995.

Belvin: Women & Civil War

In the civil war women took a major role in America, especially African American women.  The war affected their lives majorly.  Some women disguised themselves as men and joined the war, but most women focused on their households and families.  “On the eve of the Civil War, most women in the United States lived in rural areas and regularly performed exhausting, physical work in and around their homes.”  Surprisingly the women that joined to fight in the civil war was a good amount.  There were 250 women who joined and most of them did it to earn money to support their families, and some did it to be with their loved ones.  Most women weren’t recognized as women unless they were killed or hurt.  But the women were not just apart of the war, they also cooked and was there to help out in the hospitals.  “Susie King Taylor, a former slave who officially served as a laundress for her husband’s regiment, ended up doing just a little washing in addition to tending the sick, cleaning guns, and teaching soldiers to read.”  Women were also used as spies in the civil war.  They were used to lure information about the enemy and pass it along and were very good at keeping messages under their clothing.  Some women received fame from being a spy such as Belle Boyd, Rose Greenhow and Harriet Tubman etc.

“Nursing is perhaps the role that Americans today most often associate with Civil War women, in part due to the fame of Clara Barton as a nurse and later as founder of the American Red Cross.”  The military administrators often discouraged the women and said they couldn’t perform any nursing task in an environment full of chaos.  That didn’t stop the women from proving them wrong.  These women thrived under the dangerous environments not only by changing bandages, dispersing medicine and treating wounds, but also by cooking, serving meals, and doing laundry.  They also read to the soldiers and even nursed them on the battle field where they fell wounded.

Clark: King Taylor’s Legacy

Susan Baker King Taylor was born in Liberty County by mother Hagar Ann and father Raymond Baker, but was raised in Savannah Ga by her grandmother. She was a rising star student who was masterful in reading and writing. Back then education didn’t come easy for African Americans. She was taught secretly by a freed black woman named Mrs. Woodhouse. In order not to get attention from police officers and whites, her and other students would keep their school books covered in paper and enter individually. Soon after she was taught another black woman named Mary Beasly. Katie O’ Connor, the final woman to bless Susan with education lasted for a few months until she moved into the convent. Susan never saw her again.


African Americans who either free or slave were guaranteed to have a pass just to walk around the city; otherwise they would be arrested by watchman. Intending to help her people Susan wrote passes everyone including her grandmother. In 1862 Yankees from St. Simons Island discovered Susan’s education they wanted her to teach the children who were living on the island. She became the first black woman as a teacher to African American students. Georgia Edward King, Susan’s husband was just as educated as she was. It was love at first sight.

By August Susan was offered to be a laundress for the troops by Captain Trowbridge. Despite she was in charge of the troop’s laundry but she also had other titles under her belt such as a nurse when the camp was diagn osed with smallpox and a teacher by teaching the men to read and write.

In 1866 Susan and her husband Georgia King returned to Savannah and opened a school for free slaves. Unfortunately King died a few months after their first was born. Years have passed and by now Susan began working as a laundress for wealthy families. This granted her plenty opportunities of traveling the world like Rye Beach where she was acknowledged for her excellent cooking, Europe, and Boston where she met her second husband Russell L Taylor. After having much experience nursing people to life, she then improved Corps 67 Women Relief Corps. Working her way to the top she was secretary/treasurer and soon after president.

Susan Baker King Tylor died at the age of 64 buried next to her second husband. Before she died she wrote her memories that were published as a book called Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33rd US Colored Troops.

Montford: Living Through What Seemed Like Hell

“I had to drop out of school because of the immense pressure of being bullied and criticized. It felt like hell was on Earth.At that time, I wish that I had gone back to segregated schools, because I was comfortable there. I was not being tormented to the point of tears there. It was safe… there.” My Aunt Barbara is a strong woman today. She works hard for what she has and to provide for her family.

“Growing up in the era of the civil war was tough for sure, but it made me into who you see before you.”


The Civil Rights Era was from 1954 to 1968, and these were some of the most fundamental years in importance to Black history. Not only was the time for Martin Luther King, Jr., but this is also when other Black activist were only the rise as well, such as Malcolm X and Rosa Parks. During this Era in American history Blacks went against the grain to gain the privileges and rights they felt Blacks everywhere deserved already.

“What do you think that this Era taught you the most?” “Ashleigh, personally, I think this Era taught me to be strong. This Era taught me that people are going to hate me by just looking at me and observing my skin color. Okay, so what if I have a bit more melatonin in my skin than the person sitting next to me. I still have a heart, and it beats the same. Our lungs work the same. Remember, just because the time for civil rights ended does not mean that all of segregation did.”

My family is majority Black and everyone has a very special story, however the more intriguing stories would definitely be the ones who have had stories about the Civil War. While doing this assignment I realized, that there was so much more that I could learn about my family and their history. Also, not failing to mention that hearing their stories allowed me to have a look into what really shaped their lives.

“Aunt Marie, what was the Civil War Era like for you?”

“The Civil War times were definitely something to be experienced. I am so grateful to have experienced it as well. But, it was definitely intense to say the least, especially living in the South. Those times really showed me how bad and how good people can be. I can definitely say that I did not have it the worst in the world, but it could have definitely been better. There were times that I was scared, but I knew that I would make it through.”

“During the Civil War Era, what were you doing?”

“I was definitely out there with my sign protesting along the side of the other Blacks and some other races who wanted ultimately wanted equality as bad as we did. I mean, I was not one of the ones burning down buildings and shooting people, but I did go out there with a purpose with my fist in the air. How cliché!”

“What did you learn from it all?”

“I definitely obtained so much material and gained new perspectives. So much hatred is never a good thing and it has definitely gotten better. Learning is important in any situation, and you remember that Ashleigh. I learned that some people are taught to hate others just because they are different than them so some people really cannot help it. Also, one of the more important lessons I learned was that if you want something then you must go and get it. You must demand it! You cannot wait on these people to get it for you! Be ambitious! Be loved! Be blunt when you have to!”

“You are amazing, you know that?”

Talking to multiple family members was definitely a joy. I came to find out that my Uncle met Martin Luther King, Jr. himself. Another family member was a lead activist in their community, and some were just happy to be alive today. This definitely taught me that there is no time like the present to learn about the past.

Goden: King Taylor

 Summary- Susan King Taylor was born as a slave in Liberty County Georgia in 1848. Her mother was a maid and when she was seven years old she, and her brother were sent away to live with their grandparents. Education at this time was not permitted to colored slaves, but luckily Susan and her brother were able to attend a secret school taught by strong minded black women; it was here that Susan learned how to read and write. At the age of fourteen Susan was sent back to live with her mother. It was around this time that union soldiers captured Ft Pulaski, when this happened Susan along with other family members fled to St Simons Island. It was on this island that word got out about Susan’s education and intelligence, and within a week or so, Susan was able to set up a school for African American students .By day she taught children by night she taught adults. Susan met and eventually married her first husband Edward King an non commissioned union officer, in the army. Susan traveled with Edward to different places, and was teaching blacks how to read and write during these travels with him. Susan would also act as a nurse for the doctors helping the injured camp soldiers. In 1866 the kings established a school together, and conceived a child, it was in this same year that Edward King passed away. In the 1870s Susan moved to Boston where she met her second husband Russell Taylor. Since nursing was Susan’s passion she joined the Women’s Relief Corp. In the 1890’s she wrote her own memoir shortly before passing away at the age of sixty four. Any one can see that Susan was an amazing woman with so many gifts and talents, that she used to benefit other people. Susan was a nurse and helped as much as she could with the organizations that she was involved with. She was not just an intelligent person she was a healer. susan_king_taylor_webSusan King Taylor.

Ross: African American Women during the Civil War

During the Civil War women played important roles some of them being nurses, spies, soldiers, abolitionists, civil rights advocates and promoters of women’s suffrage. Whats not often mentioned is that African American women participated in these as well, it’s estimated that over 180 black nurses served in hospitals in Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland.

Susie King Taylor is known to have been the 1st black nurse, she traveled alongside her husband and worked aiding  the soldiers during the Civil War and. Susie King Taylor was born into slavery on the Grest Farm in Liberty County, Georgia, on August 6, 1848, at the age of seven her owner allowed Taylor and her brother to leave and go live with her grandmother in Savannah, GA. Growing up there were very strict laws against formal education of African Americans, they both attended two secret schools and learned to read and write. At the age of 14 Fort Pulaski where she lived was captured by the Union Army, she ran away with her uncle and his family and other African Americans to Union-occupied St. Simons Island where she claimed her freedom. While teaching on St. Simons she met and married her 1st husband Edward King, a black non-commissioned officer in the Union Army.For three years, she traveled with her husband’s regiment, working as a laundress, taught black Union soldiers how to read and write during their off-duty hours, served as a nurse helping camp doctors care for injured soldiers.

When she returned to Savannah In 1866, she established a school for freed black children, that same year her husband Edward King died. In the early 1870s, she now had a passion for nursing and joined and then became president of the Women’s Relief Corps, which gave assistance to soldiers and hospitals. Taylor wrote memoir about her life the book tells her experiences as an African American nurse during the Civil War. Her book is the only book every written that tells what it was like to be an African American nurse during the Civil War.

Susie King Taylor is a prime example of the roles African Americans played during the Civil War.