General William Tecumseh Sherman declared at one point during the Civil War that she outranked him. She was not a push-over and wasn’t about to be pushed aside by Army regulations either. The Union soldiers she tended called her “Mother Bickerdyke” and they cheered her presence as they would their commanding generals.
She was born Mary Ann Ball on July 19, 1817 in Knox County, Ohio to parents Hiram and Annie Rodgers Ball. Annie died when Mary Ann was about seventeen months old, so Mary Ann was sent to live with her mother’s parents until Hiram remarried a few years later. Mary Ann, however, decided she preferred to live with her Rodgers grandparents.
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