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The “other” Chatards

When the name “Chatard” comes up we usually think of the fifth Bishop of Vincennes and the first Bishop of Indianapolis. If we don’t have a great sense of Indiana Church history, we may think of the Indianapolis High School bearing the name, but there is more to “Chatard” than a bishop or a school.

This post doesn’t have much to do with Indiana Church history, and yet there are always connections. For example, Saint Elizabeth Seton never came to Indiana, but her two Bibles reside here. One at Notre Dame an the other in Vincennes. There is a connection between Indiana and Emmitsburg, Maryland, home of the Daughters of Charity and also where Father Simon Brute taught.

Then there is a connection to Baltimore where the first seminary in the United States, Saint Mary’s is located. Fr. Brute was there for a time as well. The city of Baltimore is the cradle of Catholicism in the United States and also the city where Francis Silas Chatard grew up. The Chatard family is well known there. Wikipedia writes:

He was born Silas Francis Marean Chatard in Baltimore, Maryland on December 13, 1834 to Ferdinand E. Chatard and Eliza Anna Marean. Both his father, Ferdinand, and his paternal grandfather, Pierre, an emigrant from Santo Domingo, West Indies, were physicians in Baltimore. Raised in a prominent family, he attended Mount Saint Mary’s College in Emmitsburg (now Mount Saint Mary’s University), and the Maryland University School of Medicine, receiving a doctorate in medicine. He served his residency at the Baltimore Alms House.

But what of the rest of the Chatard family? Ferdinand E. Chatard and his wife Eliza Anna Marean had 8 children. The oldest was a daughter named Juliana. She was born 27 January 1833. She died on 26 April 1917. She spent most of her life as a Daughter of Charity, entering religious life in 1857. Sister Juliana’s life wasn’t a public one, but her devout and faithful Catholic life is one of great example.

During the Civil War, the Daughters of Charity acted as nurses for the injured soldiers. Here is an excerpt from an article in “The Tablet” published in 2011.

In the final days of June, 1863, the Civil War came perilously close to home for the Daughters of Charity in Emmitsburg. Days before the Battle of Gettysburg, the acres of their farmland property at the foothills of the Catoctin Mountains were used as a camp for tens of thousands of Union soldiers while their generals stayed in the former home of the order’s founder, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and planned battle strategies. The troops moved on to fight one of the bloodiest Civil War battles just 15 miles away from the sisters, and when the fighting ended, leaving tens of thousands dead and wounded, the Daughters of Charity were among the first civilians to arrive and care for Union and Confederate soldiers. The sisters provided food, water, bandages and basic medical care. They also gave spiritual solace to soldiers who requested it: praying with them, distributing religious medals, baptizing the dying and writing letters home to soldiers’ families. At Gettysburg and other Civil War battles, at least 300 Daughters of Charity ministered to soldiers on both sides of the war. In all, more than 600 sisters from 12 religious orders responded to this national crisis by doing everything from bandaging soldiers in the battlefield to coordinating makeshift hospitals. St. Francis Xavier Church in Gettysburg served as one of these improvised hospitals. The church’s vestibule became an operating room, its sanctuary was a recovery room, and the pews functioned as cots for more than 200 wounded soldiers. A monument dedicated to the women religious who ministered to wounded and dying soldiers from the North and South during the American Civil War is located across the street from the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. The church, which is still open today, pays tribute to the nuns’ ministry with a stained-glass window depicting the Daughters of Charity caring for wounded soldiers. Those who visit not only the Gettysburg church but the Emmitsburg Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton are reminded right away that these spots had historical significance during the Civil War by signs marking Civil War trails and posted descriptions of events that took place 150 years ago. But the general public might not be so aware that nuns were on the scene at that time providing a much-needed service. Sister Betty Ann McNeil, a Daughter of Charity and the provincial’s archivist, said the sisters’ unique role has been”under-told” in Civil War documentaries and publications. She attributes this gap to a lack of public relations, saying the sisters didn’t take pictures of themselves on the battlefields or promote the work they were doing. During her research, Sister Betty Ann was particularly inspired by Sister Juliana Chatard, a young Daughter of Charity who longed to be in the field of action. Eventually this young woman, who was from the North, was sent to Richmond, Va., and made an administrator of a soldiers’ hospital there. According to Sister Juliana’s account, it was difficult to describe the routine at the military hospital because”to lay the scene truly before you is beyond any human pen. All kinds of misery lay outstretched before us.” 1

In the Vincentian Heritage Journal, from 2007, Sister Betty Ann expands the quote (above) from Sr. Juliana:

Sister Juliana Chatard (1833-1917), described her experiences in Richmond at Saint Ann’s Military Hospital, concluding a passage thus: “to lay the scene truly before you is beyond any human pen.” All kinds of misery lay outstretched before us. A terrible engagement commencing near the City (Richmond), this hospital being more convenient was made the field hospital, where all the wounded were first brought, their wounds examined and dressed, then sent to other hospitals to make room for others. This Battle lasted 7 days, commencing about 2:00 a.m. and continuing to 10 p.m. each day.’ The bombs were bursting and reddening the heavens. While the Reserve Corps ranged about three hundred yards from our door. While these days lasted, our poor Sisters in the [Richmond] City Hospitals were shaken by the cannonading and the heavy rolling of the ambulances filling the streets bringing in the wounded and dying men. The entire city trembled as if from an earthquake during the whole week, with the exception of a few short hours between 10 and 2:00 o’clock. Memory is surfeited over these days; hearts overflowing with anguish at the bare remembrance of them. 2

Sr. Betty Ann includes a tribute to Sr. Juliana:

Sister Juliana Chatard – Juliana Chatard, of Baltimore, entered the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph’s, 28 August 1857. During her sixty years as a Daughter of Charily, Sister Juliana served in educational and leadership roles in various locations from New York to Alabama. She was on mission in Richmond, Virginia, as a young sister of only twenty-eight years when she distinguished herself in Civil War services in the capital of the Confederacy, and wrote a firsthand account of her experiences. The Sisters served in Richmond at Saint Francis de Sales Infirmary, The Richmond General Hospital #1 (the Alms House Hospital), and Saint Ann’s Military Hospital.

… Preserving and passing on the Daughters of Charity tradition of care and compassion tells a unique story of faith and service The National Museum of Civil War Medicine, Frederick, MD impelled by the love of Christ. Their example still gives inspiring witness of the daring and dedication of women who risked all for the sake of their mission by valiantly crossing boundaries of locale, politics, and religion during wartime.

Finally, she lists Sr. Juliana’s many assignments:

Sister Juliana Chatard (1833-1917), served on the following missions of the Sisters/ Daughters of Charity: Saint Joseph’s Academy, Emmitsburg, MD (1858-1861); St Joseph’s School l. Richmond, VA (1861-1865); St. Joseph’s Central House, Emmitsburg, MD( 1865-1882), St Mary’s Asylum, Mobile, AL (1882-1885); St Joseph’s Central House (1885); House of Guardian Angel, Philadelphia (1885-1894); St. Joseph’s Central House (1894-1895), Infant Home, Utica, NY (1895); St. Joseph’s Central House (1895-1900); Seton House, Troy, New York (1900-1902); St. Joseph’s Central House (1902-1917). For 16 years (1867-1882), Sister Juliana was responsible for the formation of new members of the Daughters of Charity as seminary directress (novice mistress) Sister Juliana died at Saint Joseph’s Central House, 26 April 1917, and is buried in the original community cemetery

  2. “The Daughters of Charity as Caring without Boundaries”, Vincentian Heritage Journal, Volume 27 Issue 1 Volume 26.2, 27.1 Article 7 Fall 10-1-2007 Civil War Nurses, Betty Ann McNeil D.C. []

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