Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
“This noble character deserves prominent record for her services to the South. She was President of the “Soldiers Aid Society” of Wilmington, North Carolina, from the beginning to the end of the war. Endowed with administrative ability, which called forth the remark, “she ought to have been a General,” gifted with unusual largeness of heart and breadth of sympathy, she was a leader of society, yet ever alive to the wants and sufferings of the poor and needy. Under her direction the Soldiers’ Aid Society was early organized, and for four years did its work of beneficence with unabated energy.
The North Carolina coast was especially inviting to the attacks of the enemy, and Mrs. DeRosset’s household was removed to the interior of the State. Her beautiful home in Wilmington was despoiled largely of its belongings; servants and children were taken away, but she soon returned to Wilmington, where her devoted husband was detained by the requirements of business, and she devoted herself to the work of helping and comforting the soldiers.
Six of her own sons and three sons-in-law wore the grey. The first work was to make clothing for the men. Many a poor fellow was soon without a change of clothing. Large supplies were made and kept on hand. Haversacks were home-made. Canteens were covered. Cartridges for rifles, and powder bags for the great Columbiads were made by hundreds. Canvas bags to be filled with sand and used on the fortifications, were largely used at Fort Fisher – and much more was in requisition.
The ladies would daily gather at the City Hall and ply their busy needles or machines, with never a sigh of weariness. When troops were being massed in Virginia, Wilmington, being the principal port of entry for the Confederacy, was naturally an advantageous point for obtaining supplies through the blockade, and Mrs. DeRosset, ever watching the opportunity to secure them, had a large room in her dwelling fitted up as a store room. Many a veteran in these intervening years has blessed the memory of Mrs. DeRosset and her faithful [aides] for the comfort and refreshment so lavishly bestowed upon him. Feasts without price were constantly spread at the depot. Nor were their spiritual needs neglected. Bibles, prayer books and hymn books were distributed. Men still live  who treasure their war Bible among their most valued possessions.
Mrs. DeRosset’s ability to cope with and overcome difficulties to get all she needed for the men, was the constant wonder of those who daily assisted in her labors. An incident of her surpassing executive power is worthy of record. After the first attack on Fort Fisher, the garrison, under the command of the gallant officers, [General] Whiting and [Colonel] Lamb, was in great peril and in need of reinforcements, which came in [General] Hoke’s Division of several thousand men – [General] Clingman’s, [General] Kirkland’s, General] Colquitt’s and [General] Hagood’s Brigades – and with some of the North Carolina Junior Reserves. The wires brought the news that in a few hours they would arrive, hungry and footsore. Mrs. DeRosset was asked if they could feed them.
The ready reply was flashed back:
“Of course we can”: and she proved equal to the task. Through her energies and resources, and her able corps of assistants, she redeemed her pledge. Alas! all efforts to relieve the garrison failed, and many heroic lives were sacrificed. The fort fell, Whiting and Lamb were both seriously wounded and carried off to prison, and our last available port was in the possession of the enemy.
The harrowing scenes of hospital life followed, and here, as elsewhere, Mrs. DeRosset’s labors were abundant. The sick were ministered to by tender hands, the wounded carefully nursed, and the dead decently buried. The moving spirit in all these works of beneficence was the Soldiers’ Aid Society, directed by Mrs. DeRosset.
When all was over, Mrs. DeRosset was the first to urge the organization of the Ladies Memorial Association, for perpetuating the remembrance of the brave soldiers who died for our cause. Though persistently refusing to accept office, she remained a faithful member of the Association as long as she lived.”