She is greatly remembered for her book Hospital Sketches, which she wrote to home while serving as an army nurse during the Civil War. Growing up, her home was a stop on the Underground Railroad and this helped her realize the effects of slavery on these slaves. She wanted to help in any way she could. In December 1862, Alcott left for the Union hospital in Georgetown, outside of Washington, DC, to become a nurse. She had no formal training as a nurse and no formal training was required.
During the American Civil War, "More than twenty thousand women in the Union and Confederate states engaged in relief work…” (Schultz, 2004). These women had certain professional rights and responsibilities to uphold throughout the Civil War. They broke the common Victorian American tradition and volunteered to be Civil War nurses, something that astounded the nation (USAHEC.org). These battle aids nursed the wounded soldiers and performed other tasks to help the soldiers. However, these women were not accepted right away by male doctors in the hospitals.
In 1864 Clara Barton began to lobby for an American Branch of the Red Cross. Clara was known as a natural leader and a hero. After she found out the army had no supplies she would start to cut up sheets to make towels. She began working in forts and hospitals to help the wounded. She would travel around to nurse wounded soldiers that were hurt in the wars.
Her efforts affected the building of 32 institutions in the United States. In 1861, when the Civil War broke out she provided her services and eventually was named superintendent of United States Army Nurses. She was accountable for setting up field hospitals, first-aid stations, drafting nurses, managing supplies, and managing training programs. Although she was very effective and concentrated, many people thought she didn't have the social skills necessary to navigate the militaries bureaucracy. Yet she stayed after the war, helping to track missing soldiers, write letters to families, and help soldiers secure their pensions.
During the Victorian Era, nursing was seen as a profession for the lower class therefore when she told her parents about her interest in the nursing field, her parents quickly dismissed the idea. Nightingale though, was convinced this profession was calling from God. She was convinced it was her duty to make nursing a well-respected profession. Nightingale ended up going to the Crimean War with about 30 nurses to help out wounded soldiers. Even though the hospital was a living nightmare, Nightingale and the nurses made it work.
Women not in the war had to take on many responsibilities. Another role they had to endure was being a nurse. A major disadvantage of living on a farm in the South was that your home would become a battlefield. With warfare taking place on the home front, women were invaded with wounded soldiers in their homes and forced to take care of them (Massey 197-219). Even the women that weren't working in the battlefields, still endured pain and suffering, and sacrificed themselves for the betterment of their families and country.
But after Battle Of Bull Run, Clara Barton and Dorethea Dix organized a nursing corps to help care for the wounded soldiers. Clara Barton is the most famous civil war nurse, as she made impeccable strides in representation of women by creating the Red Cross in response to her experiences during the Civil War, and “became known as the ‘Angel of the Battlefield’ and was appointed superintendent of nurses in the Army of the James in June 1864, despite her criticism of the military’s treatment of the wounded.” (librarypdf). Other than the generic tasks of giving medicine and bandaging wounds, female nurses also “ passed out supplies, wrote letters for soldiers and read to them, cooked and served meals, and did laundry” (librarypdf). Nursing was
With the effects of war wearing heavily on women and their roles in supporting the war it isn’t surprising that women found it difficult to keep the home fires burning. Yet the majority of women did hold the south together. Years after the war ended there was much written about the women that held life together during the war. One reference was from A. P. Mayo, “The Woman’s Movement in the South” published in The New England Magazine, Volume 11, Number 2, October 1891 in Boston, Massachusetts. CHAPTER 7 WOMEN EXPAND THEIR ROLES Women Have a Voice In the early stages of the war the life of the Southern woman and her counterpart in the North were not much different.
Civil War Nursing Over 5000 volunteer nurses’ north and south served in military hospitals during the Civil War. Nurses were of all sorts and came from all over. Women wanted to be involved in this national struggle in any way they could. They did not want to stay home and play their traditional domestic roles that social convention and minimal career opportunities had confined the majority of their sex to. Many women thought of nursing as an extension of their home duties, almost like taking care of “their boys.” They recall the Civil War as a time when their work as nurses made a difference.
Helen Fairchild, a nursing hero Helen Fairchild, although she isn’t as famous as some pioneers such as Florence Nightingale, deserves respect and recognition as a nursing pioneer. The work she did not only as a nurse but also as a combat nurse as well. She along with 63 other nurses from her Pennsylvania hospital risked their lives to save the brave men fighting in the First World War. This essay lays out the life of Fairchild from her early years to her short career as a nurse as well as the detailed letters she sent home that made history in nursing. Her brave heroics and selflessness must never be forgotten in the field of nursing and should be used as a guide on how nurses should pride themselves in their profession.