Tag Archives: Women’s History Month

Mary Love

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

March is Women’s History Month and we recognize a Roane Countian who made her mark in history. The story of Mary Love (1823-1887) occurs during the Civil War. We know about brother against brother, but what is not often discussed is a sister against brother and her family. That is the story of Mary Love. Mary and her family lived in a house that was located on the main road from Knoxville to Kingston on what is now called Lawnville Road. Her brother, Josiah T. Love was a surgeon in the Confederate army. Even though her family was confederate she carried a dispatch to the Union forces at Knoxville. The following is a report to the Senate of the United States, dated Jan 13, 1873, that was submitted in the following words: “The Committee on Claims, to whom was referred the memorial of the Miss Mary Love, having considered the same, make the following report: During the siege of Knoxville, in November 1863, General Grant desired to send an important dispatch from his headquarters, at Chattanooga, to General Burnside, at Knoxville, through the investing lines of the Confederate forces under General Longstreet. This dispatch was sent to Colonel Robert K. Byrd, commanding at Kingston, Tennessee, with orders from General Grant to get it to General Burnside ‘at any cost and at all hazards.’ Colonel Byrd caused five copies of said dispatch to be made and sent them in different directions. One Charles Francis lost his life in the attempt to get through the confederate lines with one of them. No one of them reached General Burnside except the one of which Miss Love was the bearer. Miss Love was a loyal woman, but she had a brother in the Confederate service and was less exposed to suspicion by the Confederate guards for that reason. She was promised by Colonel Byrd that she should be well paid for her services and the peril she encountered. She traveled alone some twelve miles, but at dark, she procured the Rev. Thomas P. Carter to accompany her, and they passed through the Confederate forces to Louisville, Tennessee, which place they reached about midnight, making thirty-three miles traveled by the complainant. At Louisville, she caused the dispatch to be sewed into the vest of a lad, one John T. Brown, about 13 years of age and sent him successfully to Knoxville, where he delivered the dispatch to General Burnside. It was of a very important character, and probably saved the forces of General Burnside from surrender and East Tennessee to the Union Army. Your committee reports a bill for paying Miss Love the sum of $2,000.” She received the $2,000 in payment for her services to the Union. She is buried in the Love family cemetery off of Lawnville Road with the rest of her family.

General Burnside

General Longstreet

General Grant

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, March 2016.