About Ann Elizabeth Pierce (Dunklin)
From "COLLIRENE: THE QUEEN HILL": During the War Between the States, Ann Elizabeth Dunklin Pierce (Rast), who was then the widow of John May Pierce, graciously opened her lovely home to the soldiers. Florence Dunklin, daughter of Dr. James W. Dunklin, was one of the young ladies of the community who assisted Mrs. Pierce, her aunt. After the War, she was to inscribe the following essay which was hidden away and not found until a hundred years later by her eighty-four year old daughter, Mrs. Edna Pierce Love. They essay was entitled, "Hospital Reminiscences--1863" and reads as follows: "In a remote and quiet place southwest of Montgomery is a picturesque and lovely spot where patriotism and many noble deeds were fully developed during the Civil War. Every son of this heroic village went at once to the call of their country to defend her with their lives and honor and few, very few, lived to see her ruin and downfall--and with all this sacrifice on the villagers, it did not deter them from doing their duty to those who were left to fight. "This place is Collirene. It has had its historians, poetasters, artists, romancers, sooth-sayers and sages. This place with its lofty hills that stand high above the surrounding country of pure air and grand scenery lends much to the enchantment of this retired place, but that which contributes more than aught else to its prominence was confirmation of a hospital for our sick and wounded soldiers during the Civil War. One, a noble person, devised the idea. It was suggested, gladly received, and promptly acted upon. "Application was made at once to the Montgomery hospital for a number of sick and wounded soldiers, those who could bear transportation from Benton over the rough roads. Preparation began at once for the reception. "Mrs. Ann E. Pierce donated the use of her home to the worthy cause. Generous contributions of bedding, furniture and provisions were rapidly sent in by the citizens. Matron and maid alike were busy preparing a home for our noble, but unfortunate defenders. All that fancy could devise or taste suggest to make it inviting was done. "Surely no other hospital was ever established under such circumstances--it was simply Utopian. Pictures, books, lovely flowers, and fruits were in abundance. A piano was in readiness. Carriages, in charge of the warmhearted and patriotic, Mr. Robert Rives, were sent to welcome them. Gray haired fathers and mothers who had sent their sons to the front--gentle sisters, too, all were to bid them welcome. It was a pathetic sight, those soldiers in their soiled, worn suits of grey, but their lives for a short time had fallen in pleasant places. "The hospital under the management of Mrs. Dunklin Pierce as Matron, [daughter-in-law of Ann] with the assistance of the young ladies of the village, the house keeping was a model one. Tea was served at sunset, when after came an hour they most enjoyed. Some young lady would play an accompaniment on the piano and all would join in with their favorite songs. With the inspiring strains of "Dixie" all would sing with enthusiasm that bespoke a heart-felt zeal for our dear cause. Then came "Bonnie Blue Flag," "Lorena," and sad, sad "No One to Love," the heartbreaking "Just Before the Battle, Mother," and then to cheer our hearts with hope we sang "When The Cruel War Is Over." Kind good nights were spoken and all the soldiers, twenty in number, retired for the night to dream of home and loved ones. Most of these were Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee boys. "Collirene will ever be remembered by all of them as a sacred spot and grateful memories for all who administered to those noble boys. "Signed, A Soldier's Friend, Florence Dunklin Pierce, Lowndes County, Alabama"
"Time has almost obliterated the fact of this "hospital's" existence. Generations of Collirene's children have been shown an opening in the back of a closet in the old Pierce house through which the wounded soldiers slipped into an attic space in order to hide from Yankees. The Yankees would have been Wilson's "Raiders" or a contingent from his command as he came through the area in the spring of 1865. The present generation of children did not know the circumstances of the soldiers being there. "Acts by the loyal Southern women, such as this hospital project, prompted the State General Assembly on December 9, 1864, to tender the thanks of the state. The joint resolution proclaimed that the members were: "Profoundly and gratefully impressed with the lofty and patriotic spirit, the ardent devotion, and the unremitting labors and sacrifices of the noble women of the State in providing for the wants and comforts of our gallant soldiers, and who by their labors of love, their patience of hope, and their unflinching constancy in our cause, have nerved our veteran soldiers in the field, in their bloody and unequal contest with our cruel and relenting foe." "High regard of the women's patriotism was reason for the Montgomery Advertiser to appeal to them late in the war to report deserters. The advertisement read: "Know then that more than one third of the whole number of soldiers whose names are on the rolls are not in the army with their brethren ready to defend you and to beat back the foe; but they are absent without leave, loafing sulking, or hiding from duty. . . . Call upon these truant men to go forth for your defense."
Ann Elizabeth Dunklin Pierce sent three sons to the Civil War. The youngest, John May, Jr., never returned.