Sunday, November 10, 2013

Nurses in the U.S.Civil War


Civil War nurses were actually not part of the military and did not serve as part of any army. Most of those nurses who tended to the dying and wounded of the Confederate or the Union armies were volunteers and not paid for their work. Even as volunteers they were confronted with difficulties with regard to paternalism and bureaucracy in order to help soldiers both on and off the battlefield.

The Civil War is known to have been the impetus and catalyst for many good things. It was the main source for volunteerism which became an integral part of American society. Although battlefield hospitals and medicine were nearly non-existent during the Civil War, women helped and saved countless numbers of soldiers. There are many famous names associated with Civil War nursing and they were instrumental in revolutionizing the way battlefield medicine and healthcare in the military were administered and delivered.

The most famous pre-Civil War nurse was Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), who was instrumental in obtaining better medical care for the soldiers who required medical attention during the Crimean War (1853-1856). Many nurses of the Civil War had studied Florence Nightingale's way of working and were exposed to her philosophies of nursing care, which advocated a clean environment and fresh air, as well as guaranteeing that every wounded soldier received kind, compassionate and humane care. The Civil War produced some very famous nurses. They include Clara Barton, Mary Todd Lincoln, Dorothea Dix, Louisa May Alcott and even one man -- the famous poet, Walt Whitman. All of them served as nurses during the Civil War and had a profound impact on the lives of many soldiers.

It is estimated that more than 2,000 nurses served in the Civil War with most of their names being unknown. They are considered the unsung heroes of the war. Due to poor record-keeping and the lack of appreciation and attention given to the many individuals -- mainly women -- who worked the battlefields providing medical care to the soldiers, their names were either lost or never recorded. Some of the nurses of the time kept diaries or journals while others wrote their memoirs after the war. It is through those written records that some names and people became prominent for the causes they championed.


Post a Comment


Facebook Twitter Delicious Stumbleupon Favorites