This year's winner of Random Thought's Miss Civil War was not actually a miss. Well, she might have been when these wonderful photographs were taken, as I am not exactly sure when they were made. Regardless,
Emilie Todd was a true Kentucky beauty. Emilie was born in 1836 in Lexington and was the half-sister of Mary Todd Lincoln (18 years difference in age).
In 1856, Emilie married Benjamin Hardin Helm, who went on to lead Kentucky's famed Confederate Orphan Brigade and was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga. If you have seen pictures of Gen. Helm, you can see that he clearly married up.
After Gen. Helm's death, Emilie went to live with Mary and Abraham Lincoln in the White House for a time. One can only image the gossip and rumors that spread by having the wife of a Confederate general in the White House. Emilie remained true to her departed husband, never remarrying and wearing mourning clothes for much of the remainder of her life. In addition, Emilie remained loyal to the memory of the Confederacy. She became active in memorial organizations and was known as the "Mother of the Orphan Brigade," as she was a faithful attendee to their reunions.
Despite Emilie's loss of her husband and her nation, she lived a long full life, dying at age 93 in 1930. She was buried in the Todd family plot of the Lexington Cemetery.
For a great longform essay on Emilie, you can download my friend and colleague Stuart Sanders' Kindle read "Lincoln's Confederate 'Little Sister:' Emilie Todd Helm" for only $2.99.
Images courtesy of the University of Kentucky.