Friday, August 27, 2010

Juliet Thomkins Howe – Southern Spitfire

Juliet Thomkins was the daughter of the Episcopal vicar of Mount Sterling, Kentucky, during the Civil War. A Confederate sympathizer, she did not take kindly to Capt. Edward Howe of the Union Army’s deciding to rest his troops on the Thomkins’ property during a march from Massachusetts to Tennessee.

Capt. Howe ordered two of his men to ride to the house and request food and water. There they were greeted by a tiny woman, barely five-feet tall, who ordered them off the property. Unused to this kind of treatment from a woman, one of them called out that they just wanted water. “I’ll die before I let any Yankee drink the water from our well,” she retorted.

When the men reported their reception, Howe sent his aide to approach the porch. The Yankees and their horses were fed and watered, but not before the aide suffered a scratched face and kicked shins.

         Before leaving, Captain Howe rode up to the porch and stated matter-of-factly, “I don’t know who you are, young lady, or for that matter where you come from. But I do know one thing. After this war is over, if I manage to get out of it alive, I’m going to come back to Mount Sterling; I’m going to find you, and I’m going to make you my wife. Any woman with the courage to take on an entire Yankee regiment is the girl for me.”

Stamping her feet, Juliet shouted, “Sir, I would die before I’d marry you!”

Famous last words. Wounded at Chickamauga, Howe recovered from his wounds, was discharged and set out for Mount Sterling to pay a visit to Vicar Samuel Thomkins. Thomkins told him, “I’ll put in a good word with the Lord for you, and if you can persuade her, she’s all yours. God help you!”

Howe pressed Juliet to marry him. She adamantly refused. He refused to give up. She weakened, but she told him she didn’t think she could adjust to life in Massachusetts. He promised to move South if she didn’t like it.

Edward and Juliet Howe spent many happy years of married life--in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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