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Friday, August 26, 2011

The First Women Nurses

The first women carried as nurses aboard a U.S. Vessel were Sister Mary Adela and Sister Veronica, nuns of the Order of the Holy Cross. They served throughout the war on the U.S.S. Red Rover, a captured Confederate vessel that was refitted as a hospital ship.

The health care challenges of the war changed the role of American women in medicine and in the military. For the first time in the United States, female personnel held responsible positions in traditionally male environments.

Thousands of women, North and South, volunteered as nurses in the hospitals and at the front. Many “Angels of the Battlefield” served throughout the war, lay women as well as Catholic nuns from orders including the Sisters of Charity, Sisters of St. Joseph, Sisters of Mercy and Sisters of the Holy Cross.

Unknown numbers of women simply showed up on the battlefields and helped to relieve the work load of the medical staff.

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