North Barnstead New Hampshire’s Harriet P. Dame: the "Florence Nightingale" of The Civil War (1815-1900)

Harriet Patience Dame, painting hanging in the NH State House. Photograph taken in 2004 by Janice W. Brown.

Harriet Patience Dame, painting hanging in the NH State House. Photograph taken in 2004 by Janice W. Brown.

Harriet Patience Dame, daughter of James Chadbourne and Phebe (Ayers) Dame, was born at North Barnstead, New Hampshire on 5 January 1815, and died 24 April 1900. She became an army nurse, and joined the Second Regiment N.H. Volunteers, as hospital matron in June 1861.

She was mustered out in December 1865–after four years and eight months of service. She “endured all the privations of the troops, marched and camped with them, being oftentimes the only woman among a thousand men. She has nursed her ‘boys’ through small-pox, she has worked all night on the field caring for the wounded, and she has buried the dead.”

She was paid $6 a month until 1863 when her pay was increased to $10 a month. She was stationed in various camps including Washington, D.C. until November 1861; at Budd’s Ferry, Maryland until April 1862, and then to Yorktown and “up the Peninsula.” She was at Fair Oaks and during the bombardment a shell passed through the tent she occupied.

She was at Harrison’s Landing until August 1862 when she was on a hospital boat. She rejoined her regiment at Alexandria VA 23 Aug 1862 and participated at the second Bull Run battle. When the army retreated she was a nurse at the hospital at Centreville VA. She was sometimes sick, wounded, and was once taken prisoner, but was soon released.

At the battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862 she suffered from exposure but she stayed with the sick and wounded soldiers until they were removed to Washington D.C.  Once there she was in charge of the receipt and distribution of supplies sent from New Hampshire for sick and wounded soldiers from that state.

In 1862 she rejoined the Second Regiment and was at the battle of Gettysburg. In September 1864 she was appointed matron of the 18th army corps hospital, supervising the other nurses on duty.

Of her services, Gen. Gilman Marston, who was colonel of the 2nd regiment said: “Wherever the regiment went she went, often going on foot, and sometimes camping on the field without tent…She was truly an angel of mercy, the bravest woman I ever knew. I have seen her face a battery without flinching.”

In 1901, survivors of her regiment, the 2nd NH Volunteers erected a tombstone at her grave. Photograph from Muster Out Roll of the Second New Hampshire Regiment in the War of the Rebellion, compiled my Martin A. Haynes, Company I, Lakeport NH, 1917

In 1901, survivors of her regiment, the 2nd NH Volunteers erected a tombstone at her grave. Photograph from Muster Out Roll of the Second New Hampshire Regiment in the War of the Rebellion, compiled my Martin A. Haynes, Company I, Lakeport NH, 1917

After the close of the war she remained with friends in Washington D.C. until the summer of 1866 when she visited her brothers in Wisconsin and Michigan. In August 1867 she was appointed a clerk in the U.S. Treasury Dept. She was still working at that position while in her 81st year.

In 1886 she deposited $1,000 with a committee of the 2nd regiment veterans to erect a building for headquarters for their encampment at Lake Winnipisaukee, N.H. She was the second president of the Ex-Army Nurses’ Association. She donated personal funds to build the NH Old Soldiers Home in Tilton NH.

Her funeral April 28, 1900 was attended by a host of old soldiers with their wives, children and friends, and she was buried with military honors. Her portrait hangs in the New Hampshire State house.

Editor’s Note (2023):  Since 2007 when this story was written, Mike Pride, one of New Hampshire’s authoritative authors on everything Civil War, has published a book called  No Place for a Woman: Harriet Dame’s Civil War.  If I thought I knew a great deal about Harriet, I certainly was mistaken after reading Mike’s book. (Ken Burns calls the book ‘Riveting.’)  It is a pleasure to read, despite the serious topic. The book is a window into the women’s world of the time, while revealing much about the men too.  See Mike Pride’s article in the Concord Monitor newspaper. [I am purposefully not placing a link to the actual book, and not promoting any specific book seller.  You can google it, or ask your local book seller to buy a copy, or visit your local library.]


Deacon John Dame/Dam/Damme, b. 1610 in Cheshire County England, came to the American colonies with Capt. Thomas Wiggin in the ship “James” in 1633, and helped begin the settlement at Dover Neck NH in 1633. He died 27 January 1690. He m. abt 1636 to  Elizabeth Pomfret, dau of William Pomfrett (who was town clerk for nearly 40 years). She b. abt 1620 in Dover Neck NH and d. 27 Jan 1680 in Dover NH. He settled in that part of town now part of Newington NH. He and his son John, in 1683 or 1684 signed a remonstrance against the tyrannical administration of Gov. Cranfield. He d. Jan 1690. At 60 years of age he was elected second Deacon of the First Church; his neighbor, John Hall, was the first Deacon.  John Damme was an expert carpenter, or “joiner.” He built the “Damme Garrison House” for his youngest son William. He was a successful business man and had grants of land, and timber trees, and part interest in a sawmill on Fresh Creek. His will was dated 19 May 1687 and proved 23 March 1693.
Children of John & Elizabeth (Pomfret) Dame/Dam: [may be more]
1. +Sergt John Dame, b. 8 Jan 1636/37 Dover NH
2. Elizabeth Dam, b. 1 May 1649 Dover NH; m. Thomas Whitehouse; had issue
3. Mary Dam, b. 4 Sep 1651 Dover NH; m. Joseph Canney; had issue
4. William Dam, b. 14 Oct 1653 Dover NH; m. Martha Nute; had issue; His garrison still exists in Dover NH, as NH’s oldest intact garrison house.
5. Susannah Dam, b. 14 Dec 1661 Dover NH
6. Judith Dam, b. 15 Nov 1666 Dover NH; m. 6 July 1684 to Thomas Tibbetts; had issue Sergt. John Dam/Dame, b. 8 Jan 1636/37 at Dover NH, and d. 3/8 Jan 1706 at Dover NH. He m1st) Sarah Hall, dau of Serg. John Hall, who b abt 1642 in Greenland NH and d. in 1663 in Dover NH. He married 2nd) 9 Nov 1664 to Elizabeth Furber, dau of Lieut. William Furber of Dover NH. He lived at Bloody Point, Newington NH, settling upon a grant of land his father had received on the east shore of Little Bay now known as Dame’s Point. In the town and provincial records John Dam is called sergeant. He was an officer of the militia, and did service in the Indian Wars.
?Children of John & Sarah (Hall) Dame:
1. Sarah Dam, b. 2 Jan 1662
2. Abigail Dam, b. 5 Apr 1663 in Dover NH; d. Apr 1723 at Dover NH: m. 4 Jan 1688 in Dover NH to Thomas Starbird; had issue
Children of John & Elizabeth (Furber) Dame:
3. John Dame, b. 11 Jan 1666, died in infancy
4. +John Dame 3rd, b. 23 Feb 1667/68
6. Alice Dame, b. 14 Dec 1670
7. Moses Dame, b. 14 Oct 1673; m1) Abigail Huntress; m2) Mrs. Elizabeth (Richard) Waterhouse [Ancestor of Theophilus Dam/Dame]
8. Bethiah Dame, b. 5 May 1675

John Dam 3rd, b. 23 Feb 1667/68 at Dover, Strafford Co NH, and d. 1730-34; He m. abt 1690 to Jane Rowe dau of Richard & Susanna (Jeffery) Rowe of Dover NH. She was b. abt 1692 at Dover NH and d. 2 Nov 1737 at Dover NH. He was deacon of the church at Newington NH.
Children of John & Jane (Rowe) Dame:
1. +John Dame 4th, b. 1695 Newington NH
2. Zebulon Dam, b. 1695 Dover NH; d. 28 May 1818 Newington NH; m. Abigail Bickford; res. Dover & Newington NH; had issue
3. Richard Dame, b. 26 Aug 1699 Newington NH, d. 13 May 1776 Newington NH; m. 24 Jan 1724 in Newington NH to Elizabeth Leighton; resided Newington NH; had issue
4. Susannah Dam, b. abt 1703 Dover NH
5. Elnathan Dam, b. 27 Apr 1706 Dover NH; m. Mary Rollins; had issue
6. Alice Dam, b. 1708 Dover NH; m. Samuel Rawlins/Rollins; had issue

John Dame 4th, b. 1695 Newington NH, d. Jan 1768 at Dover, Strafford Co NH; m. 29 Feb 1718 Elizabeth Bickford, dau of Benjamin & Sarah (Barsham) Bickford of Newington NH. She b. 1695 at Dover NH and d. 1738 at Newington, Rockingham Co NH.
Children of John & Elizabeth (Bickford) Dame:
1. +Joseph Dame, b. 16 May 1719
2. Moses Dame, b. 2 May 1721 in Newington NH; m. 1743 Anne Hunking, dau of Capt. Mark Hunking of Portsmouth NH. Had issue.
3. Issacher Dame, b. 1723 Newington NH; d. 22 Nov 1811 Newington NH; m. Sarah Hodgkins; had issue
4. John Dam, b. 18 Oct 1724 Kittery, York Co ME; d. 23 Oct 1776 Scarborough, Cumberland Co ME; m. Abigail Libby; res. Scarborough ME; had issue.
5. Elnathan Dam, b. 28 May 1726 Newington NH
6. Benjamin Dam, b. 1727 Newington NH
7. Theodore Dam, b. 1728 Newington NH; m. Mary –; had issue
8. Jethro Dam, b. 1730 Newington NH; d. 1735 Newington NH
9. Elizabeth Dam, b. 1731 Newington NH; ?m. Joseph Trickey
10. Alice Dam, b. 1733 Newington NH; m. Joseph Place
11. Esther Dam, b. 1735 Newington NH; m. James Nutter
12. Mary Dam b. 15 Sep 1736 Newington NH
13. Olive Dame, b. 15 Sep 1736 Newington NH; d. 1803; m. Samuel Edgerly; had issue

Joseph Dam, b. 16 May 1718/19 Newington NH, d. April 1807 in Newington NH; He m. 1739 in NH to Mehitable Hall, dau of Seth & Susannah (Howes) Hall of Dover NH. She b. 7 July 1730 in Dover, Strafford Co NH and d. Feb 1769.
Children of Joseph & Mehitable (Hall) Dame:
1. Mary Dame, b. 10 Nov 1740
2. +Joseph Dame, b. 24 March 1743 Newington NH; m. 1769 to Patience Chadbourne
3. Richard Dame
4. George Dame, b. 26 June 1748, d. 6 March 1823; m. Elizabeth Bennett, dau of Benjamin & Mary (Gilman) Bennett. She d. 25 July 1842 aged 97. Issue: Capt. George, Dea. Benjamin, Mehitable, Betsey, Nancy, Susan, Mary, and Sally.
5. John Dame, b. 20 Oct 1750
6. Esther Dame, b. 28 June 1752
7. Bethiah Dame, b. 19 Feb 1755; m. John Trickey of Rochester NH
8. Samuel Dame, b. 15 Aug 1757; died at Dover NH 1798; m. 1790 Hannah Hodgdon; resided Dover NH; had issue.

Joseph Dame, b. 24 March 1743 in Newington, Strafford Co NH and d. 25 Apr 1773 in Barnstead NH; he married 26 Oct 1769 in Strafford Co NH to Patience Chadbourne, dau of James & Bridget (Knight) Chadbourne of York ME. She b. 17 May 1746 in York, York Co ME and d. 30 Nov 1826 at Alton NH. They lived at Barnstead NH.
Children of Joseph & Patience (Chadbourne) Dame:
1. +James Chadbourne Dame, b. 25 Aug 1770 Newington or Barnstead NH
2. Joseph Dame, b. 20 Nov 1772 in Barnstead NH; He d. 27 March 1861 in Dover NH. He m. Anna Plummer. She b. 14 Oct 1783 and d. 14 Jan 1844 in NH; resided Dover NH; had issue

James Chadbourne Dame, was b. 25 Aug 1770 at Barnstead NH and d. 10 Oct 1859 at Concord NH, age 89 yrs 1 mo 16 days. He m. 11 Jan 1795 to Phebe Agnes Ayers, dau of Mark & Elizabeth (Walker) Ayers. She b. 12 Feb 1772 in Barrington NH and d. 30 Oct 1854 in Concord NH aged 82 yrs 8 mos and 12 ds. They removed to Barnstead about 1797/99. In 1843 they removed to Concord NH. James was a farmer and school teacher; and Phebe was a teacher. Harriet called her mother “the grandest woman in the world.”
U.S. Census > 1850 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Merrimack > Concord
George Dame 42 M Hotel Keeper NH
Julia Ann Dame 36 F NH
Emily L. Dame 11 F NH
Clara Dame 10/12 F NH
James C. Dame 79 M NH
Phebe Dame 77 F NH
Jane Hill 23 F NH
[others not related, staying at hotel]

Photograph of Harriet P. Dame from History of New Hampshire, by Everett S. Stackpole, Vol IV, p 19

Photograph of Harriet P. Dame from History of New Hampshire, by Everett S. Stackpole, Vol IV, p 19

Children of James C. & Phebe (Ayers) Dame:
1. Joseph Dame, b. 23 Jan 1796 Barnstead, Belknap Co NH; m. 8 Nov 1820 in Montville, Waldo Co ME to Ursula Mitchell Hall; resided Searsmont, Waldo Co ME; had issue
2. John Dame, b. 10 March 1799 Barnstead NH; d. 20 July 1892 Spring Prairie, Walworth Co. Wisconsin; m. 1 June 1828 in Barnstead NH to Anna Mary Drew; resided Barnstead NH; had issue.
3. Eliza Dame, b. 16 July 1802 Barnstead NH; d. 25 Sep 1849 in Concord, Merrimack Co. NH. She m. William Nutter; resided Concord NH; had issue.
4. George Dame, b. 23 June 1809 Barnstead NH; d. 24 Aug 1863 or 1873; in 1860 boarding house, 227 Main Street; married Julia A. Davis; res Concord NH; had issue
5. Mary Dame, b. 26 Aug 1810 Barnstead NH, d. 8 Nov 1902 NH (per her tombstone) ; m. 30 Dec 1830 in Concord NH to William Shackford, son of Josiah & Lydia Shackford; res. Concord NH, had issue. Buried Blossom Hill Cemetery, Concord NH.  Children: Alphonso, Celeste, Ellen/Nellie, James C.
6. **Harriet Patience Dame, b. 5 January 1815 at Barnstead NH; d. 24 Apr 1900 in Concord NH; In 1860 living in Concord NH where she ran a boarding house at the corner of Montgomery and Main Streets; also a successful teacher; served as a nurse during the Civil War. She was one of the founders of the Old Soldiers’ Home at Tilton NH. She is buried in Blossom Cemetery, Concord NH.   This blog post is about her, so see above story.

1. The Barnstead Reunion Celebrated at Barnstead NH, August 30, 1882 by Horace Nutter Colbath
2. New Hampshire in the Great Rebellion, by Otis Frederick R. Waite
3. Our Army Nurses: Interesting Sketches. by Mary A. Gardner Holland (younger photo of Harriet Dame)
4. Appletons’ Cyclopaedia of American Biography. by James Grant Wilson et al
5. The New England Historical and Genealogical Register.
6. History of Dover NH by John Scales; Dover NH; 1923; page 263
7. NEHGS Register 65:311 [see for more on the Dam/Dame line]

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3 Responses to North Barnstead New Hampshire’s Harriet P. Dame: the "Florence Nightingale" of The Civil War (1815-1900)

  1. Joanne Shackford Parkes says:

    Just wrote about Harriet’s sister Mary Ellen’s letter to the court regarding their father’s estate at Went back to look at the siblings and realized that Harriet was 45 years old when she began serving with the 2nd Regiment NHV and 49 when she retired!

  2. Just stumbled on this Dame site while searching for Deacon John Dam [Dame], my ancestor. This is another line of descent of our common ancestor. Thank you! ~ Harriette Jo Dame Shafer

  3. Pingback: Celebrating New Hampshire Women Through History | Cow Hampshire

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