This image, a snip taken from one of LoC's massive tifs has always fascinated me. Tennessee. When you see women on these transports it's always interesting- these two women could easily be nurses or relief workers either remaining on board or en route elsewhere. We'll never know, wish so much we did.
Beyond a handful of well-known names from the past we tend to not pay particular attention to the nurses and doctors without whom the war's death toll would have been even more staggering.That statement will be thought arguable but it's not. Said this before- we have a good if rough idea how many horses and mules were lost during the war. Nurses? Nope- yet one diocese alone list hundreds of Sisters who died while serving between 1861-1865. I don't think doctors are included either. Army Medical Corps did their best, there just were not enough- docs sometimes operated around the clock with an assistant whose job it was to keep them awake should they nod off around hour 20.
We hear even less of the medical staff who were black. From across all the social strata making up black society 150 years ago, doctors and nurses sure were there. Goodness. It's difficult because ' hospital worker ' across the board could mean ' nurse ' despite having been on the record as cook or laundress. Susie King Taylor recalled she ' did very little of it ', meaning laundry. That would be because Susie was helping glue shattered men together. Sojourner Truth is best known for her famous speech and anti-slavery work but she rolled up her sleeves when the shooting began-as a nurse.
I've encountered this image, as in snipped from the larger tif elsewhere- and didn't swipe it, honest! It's from LoC, snipped it myself- these women's ' uniforms ' indicate a nursing, as in hospital, capacity. It's Washington, DC, somewhere in the massive Sanitary Commission.
Ann Stokes, the first woman to receive a pension from the Navy worked aboard our best-known hospital ship, Red Rover.I can't find how many worked with Ann Stokes only that the Sisters trained this group of tireless women and they took it from there. Although only 400 black nurses, both enlisted and contract are recorded, it's awfully clear the number was far greater than that. The Sanitary Commission for instance, wrote of black women ( and some reports include men ) serving as nurses in ' contraband ' hospitals, hospitals outside the Army's record keeping. If anyone follows the gargantuan, sprawling Commission you could see where it would be ridiculously difficult ascertaining how many nurses would have served.
Sorry to do it again but who can see the Red Rover too many times? Where Ann and her fellow nurses, and our Sisters ( of Mercy? ) raised their hands.
There's a wonderful memorial on Find A Grave to Emma Stephenson, a nurse in the Union hospital buried in the USCT section at Marietta National Cemetery. Born enslaved, Emma decided otherwise and chose to become a nurse for wounded men. Like so many of our nurses Emma died of disease July 16th, 1864.
Here's something else- black women and men were nurses in southern hospitals. No, that does not make this a ' slavery ' thread it continues as a medical staff thread. What's remarkable is their nameless status while doing the same work as every, other nurse during the war- and it wasn't just here and there. Lacking the ability to form massive relief organizations like the north, where smaller church, town, city and state organizations could work with and within the Sanitary and Christian Commissions, ( in general ) southern hospitals had to operate within smaller confines. Advertisements went out for citizens to er, donate, laborers- nurses - to the rapidly filling hospitals. They did it, too, I mean worked as nurses.
From beginning to end- first is from 1861, Tennessee, second from Virginia, 1864.
That's the multi-building Chimborazo we can never get a decent look at in images. Best I could do!
Read a very good theory based on ( sourced ) hospital record keeping in Georgia that nearly half of the hospital staff was black- and please make no mistake. That's nursing as well as other duties.
It's a huge topic, far too much for one thread but a terrific day to commemorate those who served and remember those we lost. There were doctors too, of course there were- from what I can find twelve black men took their medical degrees to war. Dr. Alexander Thomas Augusta qualified in 1860 and was commissioned in 1863 , serving as surgeon in the 7th USCT. Dr. Rebecca Lee headed to Richmond in April, 1865, taking part in relief efforts there. I'm terrible with researching in the medical areas, wish I could find more names.
One more I've always found intriguing. The usual group of officers in the usual poses- and a black man and woman- there's a child kneeling near the officers. The thing is, too easy feeling she was perhaps employed as laundress or cook. See the open tent, a bed and a head on a pillow, another man seems to be sitting by the bed? I've always wondered if she was a nurse and for some bizarre reason the photographer caught both hospital tent and a clump of officers.
Thank you, Emma Stephenson. For every Emma, we'll never know how many more sent men home who would not have made it without you.