Saturday, August 23, 2014

Emma Mordecai Nurses Soldier


Emma Mordecai regularly visited wounded soldiers at a nearby hospital, and on one particular day she was tending to a handless soldier whom she called my interesting Cavalry man. She bathed his wounds and rubbed his cold feet, but then she watched helplessly as he complained of an intolerable itch where his hand used to be, scratching at the amputated spot with his remaining hand. Having cared for the soldier on prior occasions, Emma noted that he was more agitated than usual and sought out some liquor to calm him, meanwhile also delivering the ice cream she had bought for another soldier who had mentioned craving the dessert. Hours later, she regretfully discovered that her Cavalry soldier would be transferred to a different hospital.

In an effort to aid the Confederacy, Southern women enthusiastically tackled new challenges during the Civil War, including caring for sick soldiers. Many in the army were wounded during their first outing on the battlefield, and still others contracted illnesses such as dysentery, typhoid fever, and the measles. Without female-run hospital relief societies, thousands of men would have suffered from a lack of any kind of nursing, for the Confederate government did not have enough resources to provide medical attention for all its soldiers.

One of the prominent goals of these organizations was to stock hospitals with both necessities and comforts like the ice cream and alcohol Emma provided. Women were tenacious in their mission to find supplies, often donating from their own kitchens, soliciting neighbors, and even smuggling medicines beyond the line in their full skirts.


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