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Monday, September 29, 2014

Southern, Sassy, and Strong

From: historyengine.richmond.edu

Midnight train rides, cleaning wounds and changing dressing was not the job for a proper Southern woman. Kate Cummings took up the call to become and nurse and broke the holds that Southern society placed on women of middle to upper class. Kate traveled by train from her home in Mobile to different hospitals around the South assessing surgeons after the Battle of Shiloh and helping wounded in Georgia. While Northern hospitals system was very organized and detailed, the South was far from it. Doctors drank the medical whiskey that was to go to the patients, other women would not want to preform their duties fully and all the while Kate was receiving letters from her family urging her to leave the unsuitable lifestyle and return home.

Unlike their Northern counterparts, who were welcomed in the hospital, Kate along with other women were seen as the enemy to the male staff such as the Union was the enemy. Pushing this aside and ignoring society and her parents wishes, Kate "cleaned house" of the staff who were not up to standards using her society roots to help with her backing.

According to society Southern women were not to see a man's body until they married. The Civil War changed that notion. Cummings helped doctors in surgery, changed dressing, and cleaned wounds. With the new exposure to the male soldiers bodies Kate, who at the time was unmarried was in for a new concept. Throughout the war she remained professional and provided care for the wounded thus saving many lives.


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