Nurses in the Civil War

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In the American civil war, thousands of women were involved as volunteer nurses in different military hospitals and the battle field. Although social taboos prohibited women from working outside their homes, women sought direct and convention involvement in the civil war. They focused on participating in the national struggle and pursuing career opportunities in the military rather than the traditionally confined domestic support roles. Women nurses experienced the detrimental and depressing constants of the civil war, such disease, as mutilated bodies, amputated limbs as well as death. In addition, they offered invaluable aid to the wounded and sick soldiers as well as medical authorities. Some of the nurses documented the experiences during their wartime service, including Katharine Prescott Wormeley, Jane Stuart Woolsey and Louisa May Alcott, among others. However, the influence and activities of women nurses involved in the civil war is not extensively recorded. As such, the significant contributions of women nurses in the wartime medical service are not recognized because of the relatively little secondary material accounting for their involvement in the civil war. This paper provides a critical analysis of primary sources, such as publications, diaries and letters by the battlefield nurses and secondary sources addressing the involvement of women nurses (battlefield angels) in the American civil war.
Battlefield Nurses during the Civil War
Volunteer nurses were invaluably resourceful during the civil war by providing aid and comfort to wounded as well as sick soldiers. At the beginning of the national struggle, the nursing profession was dominated by men due to the consideration that women were too frail to handle the severities of administering to the wounded and sick. The insufficient medical supplies and insufficient medical treatment in
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