Winter Lecture – Stronger Than Steel: Civil War Voices of Eastern Shore Women

Winter Lecture – Stronger Than Steel: Civil War Voices of Eastern Shore Women


Mothers, daughters, sweethearts and wives on Virginia’s Eastern Shore had a remarkable Civil War adventure vastly different from their mainland sisters.  The Chesapeake Bay was a major player in their story and defined their experience of war.  From the doyenne of Onancock Harbor to an enslaved child living on the waterfront, leadership. loss, and complicated loyalties pepper their extant narratives and anchor historian Kellee Blake’s lecture.

Shore women fearlessly and cleverly ran the blockade, submitted to retaliation for John Beall’s raids and stealthily supported others. They were imprisoned for refusing the oath of allegiance and uniquely defied the infamous General Benjamin Butler who found them “abettors of treason.”   The presence of thousands of Federal soldiers allowed them new professional opportunities—and encouraged some to the oldest. Teenagers like Maggie LeCato too quickly matured as childhood friends fell in faraway fields and freshly minted widows found themselves doing “tasks they had never known.” Freedom was presented and grasped in myriad ways, even while some women were socially banished for the decisions of their husbands.  In all, these women from “across the Bay” proved themselves both intrepid and “stronger than steel.”

Presenter: Kellee Blake | Author

About the Presenter: Kellee Blake is the retired Director of the National Archives-Mid Atlantic Region in Philadelphia. She is a Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude graduate of Mary Washington College and received her graduate degree in American History from Villanova University.

Kellee has processed papers from the Founding Fathers to the Robert F. Kennedy Assassination Files, been a regular speaker at national historical and genealogical conferences, wrote the play Stronger Than Steel: Civil War Voices of Eastern Shore Women, and authored some thirty articles/guides on wartime loyalties, the law practice of Abraham Lincoln, and Federal records. She serves on the Executive Board of Virginia Humanities and is still writing a book about the Eastern Shore of Virginia in the Civil War.

About the Series: 

The Annapolis Maritime Museum holds its annual Winter Lecture Series over eight consecutive Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. from mid-January through early March. You will be challenged to question and to learn by engaging speakers on diverse topics including maritime history, local history, science and maritime art.

The 2023 series will be held in person at the Museum Campus (723 Second Street Annapolis, MD 21403). Pre-registration is strongly suggested, space is limited. Registration fee of $10 per person at the door – first come, first served. Free admission for First Mate ($150) and above. 

Location: Museum Campus - 723 Second Street Annapolis, Maryland 21403
Date: January 19, 2023
Duration: 1.5 Hours