Born: July 19, 1817
Birthplace: Knox County, Ohio
Father: Hiram Ball 1786 – 1847
(Buried: Secrist – Tarres Cemetery, Mansfield, Ohio)
Mother: Annie Rogers 1794 – 1818
Husband: Robert Bickerdyke 1803 – 1859
(Buried: Linwood Cemetery, Galesburg, Illinois)
Married: April 27, 1847 in Cincinnati, Ohio
James R. Bickerdyke 1850 – 1904
(Buried: Bunker Hill Cemetery, Bunker Hill, Kansas)
Hiram Ball Bickerdyke 1854 – 1909
(Buried: Capitol Cemetery, Capitol, Montana)
One of the first women to Attend Oberlin College
Occupation before War:
Botanic Medical Doctor using Alternative medicine herbs & plants
Attended Congregational Church of Galesburg, Illinois
Civil War Career:
1861 – 1865: Served with Medical Service in 19 battles
Soldiers called her “Mother” because of her kind care for them
Responsible for establishing 300 Field Hospitals during the war
Leader with the United States Sanitary Commission
Worked on the first hospital boat
Rode at the head of XV Corps in the Grand Review in Washington, D.C.
Occupation after War:
Worked at the home for the friendless in Chicago, Illinois
Helped 50 veteran families move to Salina, Kansas
Ran a hotel in Salina, Kansas with the support of General Sherman
Attorney assisting Union Veterans with legal problems & Pensions
Worked at the San Francisco United States Mint & Salvation Army
President of Lyon Women’s Relief Corps in Oakland, California
Received a pension of $25.00 a month from United States Govt.
Died: November 8, 1901
Place of Death: Bunker Hill, Kansas
Cause of Death: Minor Stroke
Age at time of Death: 84 years old
Burial Place: Linwood Cemetery, Galesburg, Illinois
When his staff complained about the outspoken, insubordinate female nurse who consistently disregarded the army’s red tape and military procedures, Union Gen. William T. Sherman threw up his hands and exclaimed, “She outranks me, I can’t do a thing in the world.” They were discussing Mary Ann Ball Bickerdyke, a nurse who ran roughshod over anyone who stood in the way of her self appointed duties.
She was known affectionately to her “boys,” the grateful enlisted men in Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s and then Sherman’s army, as Mother Bickerdyke. When a surgeon questioned her authority to take some action, she replied, “on the authority of Lord God Almighty, have you anything that outranks that?”
Born in Knox County Ohio, Mother Bickerdyke became the best known, most colorful, and probably the most resourceful Civil War nurse. Widowed two years before the war began, she supported herself and her two half-grown sons by practicing as a “botanic physician” on Galesburg IL.
When a young Union volunteer physician wrote home about the filthy, chaotic military hospitals at Cairo Il, Galesburg citizens collected $500 worth of supplies and selected Bickerdyke to deliver them.
She stayed in Cairo as an unofficial nurse, and through her unbridled energy and dedication, she organized the hospitals and gained Grant’s appreciation.
Grant sanctioned her efforts, and when his army moved down the Mississippi, Bickerdyke went too, setting up hospitals where they were needed. Sherman was especially fond of his volunteer nurse who followed the western armies, and supposedly she was the only woman he would allow in his camp.
By the end of the war, with the help of the US Sanitary Commission, Mother Bickerdyke had built 300 hospitals and aided the wounded on 19 battlefields.
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