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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Susie King Taylor

African American Army Nurse and Teacher

From: U.S. National Library of Medicine

Nurses, both women and men, worked for the Union Army in hospitals and on battlefields. Though most had no formal training, they provided care and comfort to thousands of soldiers and civilians. Susie King Taylor and Ann Stokes were former slaves who gained their freedom as the Union took over Confederate strongholds in the South. Once under the protection of the Union Army, these women took an active role in the fight for freedom by becoming nurses to wounded soldiers.

As a young slave girl, Susie King Taylor had been secretly taught to read and write. Her abilities proved invaluable to the Union Army as they began to form regiments of African American soldiers.

Hired by the 1st South Carolina Colored Volunteers as a laundress in 1862, her primary role was nurse to wounded soldiers and teacher to those who could not read or write. Taylor served for more than three years working alongside her husband, Edward King, a sergeant in the regiment.

Susie King Taylor's memoirs [ Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33rd United States Colored Troops Late 1st S.C. Volunteers, Susie King Taylor, 1902] are the only known published recollection of the experiences of an African American nurse during the Civil War.

In a letter to Taylor, reproduced in her book, Lt. Colonel Trowbridge, commander of the regiment, praises her "unselfish devotion and service through more than three long years of war in which the 33d Regiment bore a conspicuous part in the great conflict for human liberty and the restoration of the Union."


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