What is a Vivandier or Cantoniere?

What is a Vivandier or Cantoniere? - Stories


Also called Daughter of the Regiment

    They were young girls, usually an officer's relative, that wanted to be part of the gala and excitement of War, not fully understanding what that meant.

    They were included as flag carriers for parades and ceremonies.  They dressed in pretty uniforms, similar to those of the army (jacket, pants and  a skirt) with which they were associated.  Eventually, the logistics of caring for these "extra personnel" became prohibitive for the armies, so the government deeded them as part of the extended army unit and was then able to distribute supplies for the girls.  Some girls took the job very seriously and actually became part of the battle. For example, Kady Brownell and Anna Etheridge both were accredited with rallying the troops in the dense smoke of fire.  The role of  Vivandier varied on a wide scale, depending on the personal commitment of each individual girl. Many carried canteens of water, wine or whiskey for refreshing the soldiers in battle, some dragged wounded off the field, while others covered the faces of the dead or brought much needed ammunition to the soldiers.  Some were even accused of being prostitutes using the uniform as a "cover" for their clandestine activities.


    Madame Boivert - Guards Lafayette from Mobile, AL 
    Eliza “Lide” Carico - 10th Kentucky Partisan Rangers, Co. A
    Lucy Ann Cox - 13th Virginia Reg.& 30th Virginia Inf., Co. A
    Lucinda Home - 14th South Carolina Vol. Inf., Co. K
    Jane Claudia Johnson - 1st Maryland Inf.
    Allie McPeak 
    Leona Neville -5th Louisiana Inf. 
    Mary Ann Perkins - Guarde Lafayette, Mobile, AL
    Bettie Taylor Philips - 4th Kentucky Inf. Reg. 
    Rose K. Rooney - 15th Louisiana Inf., Co. K
    Sarah Taylor - 1st Tennessee Inf.
    Nancy Slaughter Walker 
    Lavinia Williams - 1st Louisiana Inf., Co. A & B


    Arabella Barlow – 12th New York Militia Reg., 61st New York Inf.
    Sarah Beasley - 1st Rhode Island Inf.
    Catherine Whitacre Brashear - 16th and 19th Ohio Inf.
    Mary A. Brown - 31st Maine
    Kady Brownell - 1st Rhode Island Infantry Volunteers, 5th Rhode Island Inf.
    Bridget “Irish Biddy” Deavers (Divers) – 1st Michigan Cavalry Reg.
    Mrs. L. L. Deming -10th Michigan Inf.
    Molly Divver - 7th New York Inf.
    “Dutch Mary” - 17th Maine Infantry Reg.
    Anna Etheridge (“Gentle Annie”, “Michigan Annie”) - 2nd Michigan Vol. Inf. Reg.; 3rd Michigan; 5th Michigan
    Hannah Ewbank - 7th Wisconsin Inf.
    Elizabeth Cain Finnan - 81st Ohio Inf.
    Augusta Foster - 5th & 2nd  Maine Inf.
    Martha Francis -1st Rhode Island Inf.
    Ella Gibson - 49th Ohio Inf.
    Ellen Goodridge - Wisconsin Reg.
    Virginia Hall - 72nd Pennsylvania Inf.
    Eliza Harris 
    Annie Jones - New York Reg.
    Lizzie Clawson Jones - 6th Massachusetts Inf. Reg. 
    Hannah O’Neil - Co. H, 1st Minnesota Vol. Inf.
    Belle Reynolds - 17th Illinois Inf. 
    Salm-Salm. Agnes Elisabeth Winona Leclerq Joy, Princess (Dec. 25, 1844-Agnes Elisabeth Winona Leclerq Joy, “Princess Salm-Salm” 
    Jerusha Small - 12th Iowa Inf. Reg.
    Marie Tebe, “French Mary” - 27th Pennsylvania Inf., Co. I-“Washington      Brigade”, 114th Pennsylvania Zouaves
    Nadine Turchin -19th Illinois Inf. Reg.
    Modenia Weston - 3rd Iowa Inf.
    Eliza Wilson - 5th Wisconsin Inf., Co.K- “Dunn County Pinery Rifles”
    Maggie Wilson
    Mrs. John Witherson/Witherspoon - 23rd Pennsylvania Inf.
    Julia Wood

    Affiliation Unknown

    Mary Hill
    Mary Lippy

    Marie Tepe ("French Mary")

      A noted cantiniere or vivandiere (literally suppliers of drink and food) who became a battlefield nurse, and also earned the Kearny Cross for gallantry, **was Marie Tepe ("French Mary") who served along with her husband in the 27th Pennsylvania Infantry, marching and soldiering with the men. At Fredericksburg in December 1862 she was wounded in the ankle, and at Chancellorsville the following May her skirt was riddled by bullets.

      Marie had a falling out with her husband and left him, later serving in the 114th Pennsylvania Infantry. After the war she moved to Pittsburgh and married a Union veteran. She divorced him in 1897 and, apparently despondent, took her own life by ingesting poison in May 1901.**


        Mrs. Betsy Sullivan was one example of a soldier-nurse who functioned as a member of the regiment. In May 1861 she accompanied her husband John Sullivan in Company K of the Confederate 1st Tennessee Infantry when he marched off to war. "Mother Sullivan" was given the title of Mother of the Regiment for nursing the sick and wounded soldiers, cooking for them, and mending and washing their clothes.

        "[She] marched on foot with her knapsack on her back through the mountains of West Virginia, slept on the frozen ground, under the cold skies, a blanket her only covering, her knapsack, her pillow. ...[At the battles of Shiloh and Corinth in 1862 she was] on the battle ground with her boys, carrying bandages and with canteens of water suspended from her shoulders, she bound up wounds and stanched the life blood of many soldiers, moistened the lips of the dying, and closed the eyes of the dead."

        At Perryville in October 1862, she was on the battlefield when her husband received a severe head wound and his lieutenant, John H. Wooldridge, suffered the loss of both eyes. When the army retreated from Kentucky, the two men were among the wounded left behind who were taken prisoners. Betsy went with the two men to care for them in prison.


          On the Union side Mrs. Jerusha R. Small enlisted with her husband in the 12th Iowa Infantry. She labored as a front line nurse in the regimental hospital, caring for the wounded from the Battles of Belmont in November 1861 and Fort Donelson in February 1862, becoming known as an "angel of mercy."

          By the time of Shiloh in April 1862 the strenuous work had impaired her health. At Shiloh her husband was badly wounded and captured, but later escaped. The hospital tent came under enemy artillery fire, and she and her wounded husband were forced to flee for their lives. After her husband had recovered, she succumbed to fatigue and exposure and was bedridden. Because of her frail condition the doctors told her there was no hope for recovery, so she requested to go home to Iowa. There she died within a few days, and many soldiers from the regiment who were home on leave attended her funeral. She was buried with military honors.