Essay on Nursing and Medicine of the Civil War

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Nursing and Medicine
Of the American Civil War

Kristy Michelle Pickard-4756
History 2111 – Fall 2009
On April 12, 1861 in Fort Sumter, SC Confederate troops fired the first shots of the Four Year American Civil War. After the first few battles were fought, both sides faced the realization of how they desperately needed doctors and nurses to care for the injured soldiers. (1) The first nurses were recuperating soldiers (rebel) however; their own illnesses prevented them from providing proper care or returning to full military duties. These soldiers resented being appointed hospital duty. (2)
Within thirty days after the call of 75,000 men by President Abraham Lincoln, the Women’s Central Association of New York chose 100 women to
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Many wives and daughters of the Union or Confederate volunteer regiments were involved. These women were not officially recognized by either side. Second- These women organized societies for relief such as the Sanitary Commission and third – they established relief stations which were hospitals in their homes or donated buildings. (11)
One of the first nurses to see battle injuries was Ms. Fannie Beers who described the arrival of the first 200 soldiers at a makeshift hospital “they came with some form of disease whether on foot or stretcher, barefoot or on swollen feet”. (12) The battlefront hospitals were only that of open area sites with conditions anything but sanitary, with blood, human waste and amputated limbs covering the ground. The first battle women encountered was with their selves. Only their strong religious faith steeled them against sickening sights of disease and infection. These nurses learned to rein in their feelings and believed patients redemption hallowed their work.

These early nurses were quickly educated on the rigors of war and the primitive accommodations. Hundreds of women lasted little more than a month and for those that did last the work became gratifying and their Christian mission. At the bloodiest moments of the war, nurses braved heat of moment and offered selflessly to treat injured. These ladies
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