Nurses At Gettysburg, 40 Sisters of Charity's History In Blue And Gray Blood

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JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
This thread will have to be completed over two days. There is simply too much material and some I'd already gathered has vanished.

Talk about color blind. There were many, many women who felt helpless in the face of so much suffering- a battle had taken place in a place called Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. For some it was the first time they had nursed more than a sick sheep or child. They did it anyway. Men littered their parlors and kitchens and bedrooms and backyards- our women of Gettysburg. I have yet to read one, single account where a call to compassion failed. And then the angel cavalry rode in to town

This is like a trailor, for what happened later;
Trained healers, Sisters, nuns of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburgs had cared for 10,000 men a few days earlier. Their help had been asked in food, medical care and rest for worn soldiers. It was given and freely. Confessions were heard, masses given, religious medals and holy items gleaned throughout to send with the Catholic members. One morning the soldiers vanished. They had been called to a place called Gettysburg.

"The Daughters of Charity Motherhouse is only 15 miles from Gettysburg. The first Daughters of Charity arrived on the scene the day after the battle to find 50,000 wounded men, many of them still lying on the fields. Sister Petronilla Breen, Sister Juliana Chatard and Sister Emerito Quinlan went immediately to the battlefield, where they cleaned and bandaged soldiers’ wounds, administered painkillers and prayed with the dying. In the days that followed, more sisters from Emmitsburg, Md., came to Gettysburg. They were assigned to the hospital in the Methodist church and the hospital in the Catholic Church of St. Francis Xavier. The wounded filled every pew in the nave and the gallery and lay side by side on the floor, even inside the sanctuary. The church vestibule was used for surgery."

Here's something weird. I created a document yesterday- so, so much writing, facts, events, all of it. Went to put it on a thumb drive this morning and it has simply vanished. No idea what can have occurred, none. I frequently do this when working on a thread. In my introduction I'd said it was against their rules of humility to call attention to themselves.

"Writing on July 8 to Father Jean Baptiste Etienne, Superior General of the Vincentians, Father Francis Burlando, the director of the Daughters of Charity, attempted to describe conditions. “On July first the battle commenced about nine miles from Emmitsburg; it continued three days. Two hundred thousand men were in the field and on each side there were from one hundred to one hundred-thirty pieces of cannon. The roar of these agents of death and destruction was fearful in the extreme, and their smoke rising to heaven formed dense clouds as during a frightful tempest. The Army of the South was defeated and in their retreat left their dead and wounded on the battlefield. What number of victims perished during this bloody engagement? No one yet knows but it is estimated that the figures rise to 50,000!”
http://www.emmitsburg.net/archive_list/articles/history/civil_war/doc_civil_war.htm
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Father James Francis Burlando


"On July first the battle commenced about nine miles from Emmitsburg; it continued three days. Two hundred thousand men were in the field and on each side there were from one hundred to one hundred-thirty pieces of cannon. The roar of these agents of death and destruction was fearful in the extreme, and their smoke rising to heaven formed dense clouds as during a frightful tempest. The Army of the South was defeated and in their retreat left their dead and wounded on the battlefield. What number of victims perished during this bloody engagement? No one yet knows but it is estimated that the figures rise to 50,000!”

One church in Gettysburg of all others was terribly young in July, 1863. Why? It was Catholic. There was a strong anti-Catholic sentiment in the country during this time. Because central Pennsylvania had received an ever-growing population of Catholic immigrants and with it an ever growing strength in numbers Gettysburg 's Francis Xavier Catholic Church had finally come into being a scant 11 years previous to the battle. Gosh it was lovely.
francis xavier 863 achs.jpg
A familiar local structure, a cupola had been added by way of the traditional bell tower, red brick was rapidly mellowing the little church into Gettysburg's landscape. Catholic or no Francis Xavier was Gettysburg fixture after 11 short years. Many wealthy townspeople attended Xavier and supported it including the now historic name Codori, woven through those awful days like a bright thread in tapestry.

Father Burlando, Mother and 12 nuns packed themselves, food and medical supplies into wagons and left- jut left for Gettysburg. What they found there caused Father to simply turn the wagon back to Emmetsburg. He returned again and yet again until 40 nuns with more and more supplies populated every corner of Gettysburg housing a wounded Union or Confederate soldier.

francis xavier 1863.jpg

Francis Xavier, top right, first church to open its doors to wounded around noon, July 1st. Th church sustained so much damage, much from the blood dripping from improvised beds which were in fact boards laid over pews, it could not reopen until 1864. Union and Confederate surgeons worked here together on Union and Confederate wounded. Sisters of Charity maintained their stations of healing and help, worked around the clock here and maintained also the only color which mattered was the red blood, not the uniform it stained.

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Sister Camilla O'Keefe, have some of her quotes for tomorrow, n Xavier nurse those awful days

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Wounded were here until September, medical staff refusing to move them, so then were the Sisters of Charity.

I must finish this tomorrow, if it is possible to finish it then. The topic is enormous. In doing a thread on these women no disservice is meant towards the women who served as nurses elsewhere on Gettysburg's blood and tragedy drenched battlefield. There are many, many stories. This is the story of he Sisters of Charity.

Hopefully will be able to flesh out the story of the young polish nun who discovered her brother under layers of battle dirt as she washed his face. I'm a little annoyed by that story, having only heard it without the knowledge this nurse was also a nun.

The various incredible and amazing singular stories Sisters and wounded shared together with Francis Xavier Catholic Church and traditions and memorials in existence to this day cannot be glossed over. There's also an extraordinarily good reason why a certain symbol is not going anywhere or should, forever a battle flag hung in triumph over death, in cooperation, and in memory of those who made Peace with it.
You'll see.
francis xavier ch.JPG




 
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JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
In late June, 1863 our Sisters of Charity and the priests assigned there fed and housed anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 men on the grounds of their cloister in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

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" June 27, 1863, Union troops arrived surrounding St. Joseph's, at Emmitsburg, Maryland. They came up to the Sister's door and asked if they could have the privilege of stopping there. The Sisters said yes, even though they were fearful of a battle ensuing on their property. General Howard with his staff stayed in the Sister's house. General Shurtz and his officers stayed in the house that was formerly for an orphan asylum .
emmitsburg_st_josephs_colle.jpg

St. Joseph's College

St. Joseph's at Emmitsburg was selected by the Union army because "the Southern Army was a few miles West of Emmitsburg" (Kelly 232). In order to safeguard the property and Sisters at Emmitsburg, the Union generals stationed guards at various points. General R. de Trobriand said to Mother Ann Simeon, "Permit me to make one request. Ask St. Joseph to keep the rebels away from here; for, if they come before I get away, I do not know what will become of your beautiful Convent"
( as I tried to source this comment my computer blocked a virus , was unable to continue- cannot go back! )

Here is what the Sisters were told of war and their place in it; seems so simple. Why they came.
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And who they were, these seemingly simple women simply were not, in any way. Each was extraordinary in every way.
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sister caufield1.JPG


http://via.library.depaul.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1278&context=vhj



How many of these men were later patients of the same Catholic Sisters will never be known. Following Howard's men in the wake of war, Gettysburg's shattered battlefield was littered, so it seemed to the Sisters with shattered bodies of men.

"thousands of guns and swords lying around. ... further on we saw many soldiers on horseback as silent almost as the dead who lay there ... The rain had filled the roads with water, and here it was red with blood. Our carriage wheels rolling through blood! Our horses could hardly be made to proceed on account of the horrid objects lying about them."
Sister Marie Louise Caufield, as wagons drove them closer and closer to Gettysburg


“To see the men lying dead on the road — some by the side of their horses. O, it was beyond description. Hundreds of both armies lying dead almost on the track so that the driver had to be careful not to pass over the bodies. O! this picture of human beings slaughtered down by their fellow men in a cruel civil war was perfectly awful.”
Sister Camilla O'Keefe
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Pictured above as well, Sister O'Keefe

Continued again. Their story at Gettysburg is simply too large to dismiss in hurried posts.



 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
sisters emmitsbg.JPG

Emmitsburg, post war but still early

sister of charity.jpg


Found an excellent paper written on Sisters of Charity and their time at Gettysburg. Once again waiting to hear back on permission to use some of the quotes. Amazing the research done on this topic- and comforting. Terrific to know their work has not been forgotten.
 
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