Ann Eliza Peck Harlan Wife of Senator James Harlan of Iowa (1824 - September 4, 1884)
Birth and Childhood She was born in 1824 in Maysville, Mason county in Kentucky to James Peck (1800 - 1832) and Eunice (Knight) Peck. She was one of five sisters: Mary Jane Peck Law (1814 - 1906), Malinda Peck Skinner (1823 - 1900), Matilda Peck Ogle (1823 - 1899), and Sarah Elizabeth Peck Mitchell (1826 - 1880). Ann's parents died when she was a child, leaving her under the guardianship of her uncle, Dr. Knight. She attended Miss Larabee's school for young women.
Marriage to James Harlan future Senator and Secretary of the Interior James Harlan's diary for the college year 1844-45 mentions Ann Eliza Peck: "Visited Miss Peck in the evening; and had a long confidential talk with her, propounding numerous questions about herself and her views and purposes and preferences, intended by me to elicit information as to her sentiments towards me, and freedom from committals to any one else. Her answers were frank, and as I desired and hoped; and left no doubt on my mind as to her respect for my haracter and cordial friendship for me personally. At the close of this conversation, althought no offer of myself was made or intended on my part, or apprehended by her, yet somehow I felt that our relations had changed to more than cordial friendship." After their engagement he mentioned that he decided to become a farmer a vocation which he "fully understood and liked." They married in Greencastle on November 9, 1845 at a Methodist church in Greencastle. President Matthew SImpson of Indiana Asbury (DePauw University) officiated.
The newly married couple moved to Iowa where James Harlan became principal of Iowa City College.
She and her husband, Senator James Harlan would have four children: Mary Eunice Harlan Lincoln (1846 - 1937), Silas James Harlan (1850 - 1850), William Aaron Harlan (1852 - 1876), and Julia Josephine Harlan (1856 - 1862).
War Years - Port Royal Mr. Edward L. Pierce, the Government agent in charge of the plantations and contrabands at Port Royal. These persons were all recommended by the National Freedman's Relief Association, and its auxiliary, the Educational Committee, at Boston. Three fourths of the whole number are men who are to be the superintendents of the abandoned estates, and will direct the labors of the negroes, who are to be employed in such agricultural pursuits as cotton-culture and raising vegetables for their own support and for the use of the army at that point. Twelve or fifteen of the passengers are ladies, who will become teachers of an industrial school, which will be at once established at Port Royal, under the superintendence of Rev. M. French, of New-York. Mrs. Senator Harlan of Iowa, is among the ladies, and will assist in some department of the work. Rev. Dr. Floy, of the Methodist Episcopal Church of New York, is passenger by the Atlantic. He goes to Port Royal for the purpose of preparing for missionary efforts among the negroes. A portion of the superintendents and teachers receive compensation from the associations in New York and Boston; but some are volunteers. Among the number are men of almost all trades, and some professions. There are several physicians and one or two clergymen. All the superintendents and teachers were requested to take the oath of allegiance to the United States, previous to going on board the steamer. Twenty-seven gentlemen and four ladies from Boston; twenty-one gentlemen and seven ladies from New-York, and Miss Susan Walker, Mrs. Walter R. Johnson, and Miss Mary Donalson, from Washington and Philadelphia, subscribed to the oath. No man who would not, in case of necessity, fight for his country was permitted to go to Port Royal to assist in the management of the contrabands.
Mrs. James (Ann Eliza) Harlan of New York responded to a very detailed set of questions put to her by the Reverend French's association, confirming that his "experiment" to bring ladies seemed to be successful, provided they were carefully selected. "Women of the right character," she wrote, "could and doubtless will be very useful to the poor people around Port Royal....But they should be selected with care from those whose position and character would command the respect of the military and civil officers of the Government....The preference should be given to ladies of maturity, of strong practical common sense, rather than exquisite literary tastes."
Mrs. *' Cheever's letters to a friend and relative, on returning from a visit to Washington. One must have been for a season in the very centre of the conflict then in progress there, justly to judge as to the right or wrong of the contending forces of opinion and action then at work among those at the head of our Government.
Dear E., — We were truly glad, I assure you, to find ourselves again in our own quiet home, our peaceful and comfortable abode. It is dearer and more charming every time we return to it. I was aware of the plan for Port Royal, of which you speak, and that our friend Mrs. Harlan, the Senator's wife, has gone herself on the expedition, partly for her health and partly to do good. She is a noble, firm, resolute woman, — qualities very essential in this age of cowardice, treason, and unfaithfulness to principle.
Shiloh Mrs. Ann E. Harlan, wife of our distinguished United States Senator was the first to visit the battle-field of Shiloh. Her daughter Jessie Fremont Harlan had recently died. She stayed for five to six weeks. When the news of that great battle reached Washington Mrs. Harlan procured from Secretary Stanton a pass to take herself and a lady companion through the lines of our army.
"War Department, Washington city, D. C., April 10th, 1862. Mrs. A. E. Harlan, of Iowa, wife of the Senator of that state, has permission to pass, with a lady companion, through the lines of the united States forces, to and from Tennessee and wherever sick or wounded soldiers of the United States may be to render them care and attention.
They will be furnished with transportation and rations by the proper officers of the service, and all officers and persons in the service of the United States will afford them courtesy, protection and assistance.
Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War."
"All Quartermasters will observe and obey of course the above order. April 11th, 1862. M. C. Meigs, Q. M. G."
"All agents of the Sanitary Commission are directed to give all aid and furtherance to the plans of Mrs. Harlan, which shall be in their powere compatible with their assigned duties. Washington, April 11th, 1862. Fred Law Olmstead, General Secretary."
At St. Louis she procured a steamboat, a large supply of sanitary goods and field equipments and hastened to the battle-field to minister to the wounded, while hundreds of the relatives of the dead and dying soldiers who had come on the same humane mission, were heartlessly turned back by General Halleck's order. It was only the written order of Secretary Stanton that secured to Mrs. Harlan admission into the camps and hospitals. And she brought Governor Richard Yates, Governor of Illinois and his entire staff and corps of nurses with sanitary supplies with her. On her arrival at Pittsburg Landing this paper was presented by her to General Halleck, who, after reading it, said, "Madam, you out- rank me. What are your commands?"
After affording all possible relief to the wounded on the field, Mrs. Harlan obtained permission of the authorities to remove a steamer load of the wounded to Keokuk, where a special hospital was prepared for them. During the remainder of the war Mrs. Harlan was untiring in her work in behalf of our soldiers. She was one of the principal movers in a State Sanitary Convention which was held at Des Moines in November, 1863, at which a State organization was effected which worked through the local Aid Societies in providing sanitary supplies for the soldiers.
The subject of medical treatment in the army was one on which he possessed first-hand information through the experiences and observations of Mrs. Harlan in her ministrations to sick and wounded soldiers. He was able, therefore, to make suggestions which aided in increasing the efficiency of this branch of the service
She wrote her husband from the field with a plan to run hospitals:
"Now, why not employ the contrabands who swarm around our lines, whenvever permitted by our generals to escape from rebel masters, in the hot and unhealthy climate of Tennessee and Mississippi, to assist the nurses and to serve as cooks and washers for our sick and wounded men. They are acclimated; they are accustomed to the heat and outdoor life, and would gladly serve for their subsistence alone. The washing of the necessary changes of clothing for our sick and wounded would more than compensate for the expense incurred, to say nothing of the incalculable service they ccould render soldiers able to bear arms, in performing the labor and drudgery, often menial in its nature, which is now breaking them down and carrying them to their graves in large numbers."
Army of the Potomac Coming from the army to Washington for fresh supplies, Mrs. Harlan printed a notice in the evening papers stating that her steamboat was lying at the wharf at the Navy Yard on which she expected to return the next day, and would gladly carry anything which the patriotic and humane people of the city might wish to send to the sick and wounded to promote their comfort, and that, strange as it might seem, nothing would be more acceptable to the soldiers, including the sick ones in camp and hospital, than soft baker's bread. It is needless to add that long before evening of the next day her ship was abundantly supplied with baker's bread as well as the usual varieties of sanitary goods. And on her arrival at her destination, and it becoming known that she had brought what the soldiers called "a ship-load of baker's bread." they crowded around her ambulances in such multitudes, begging for "only one little slice," as to make it necessary to order out a strong guard to secure its safe transportation to the field hospitals.
Lincoln ordered the construction of bake-ovens and to issue flour instead of "hard-tack," when the soldiers might prefer it and when it could be done without detriment to the service.
Death Her carriage was involved in a collision with runaway horses. On October 13, 1883 Mrs. Harlan became ill at the home of her sister in Greenfield, Ind. Mrs. Harlan (her daughter) and Mrs. Robert T Lincoln were summoned to her bedside. By April 9, 1884 news line across the nation listed her as "not long to live." By August she was at Fort Monroe, Va.
On September 4, 1884, his wife, Ann Eliza Harlan, died at Old Point Comfort, Virginia at Hygeia hotel. Her remains were first taken to Washington accompanied by Sec'y and Mrs. Lincoln.
''Her body was interred in Forest Home Cemetery, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, by the side of her three departed children — two sons and one daughter — with military honors. The members of McFarland Post assembled in their hall and after the adoption of resolutions of regret, condolence, and gratitude for her eminent services in the army, followed her in a body, on foot, from her late home toher final resting place, where every spring, on Decoration Day, her grave is marked with her country's flag, by order of the Post, and strewn with flowers by the loving hands of the members of the loyal Women's Relief Corps."