Civil War - Nursing Care of the Wounded



Impact of War

Approximately two thousand women, North and South, served as volunteer nurses in military hospitals during the American Civil War. In the antebellum north and south women had “a duty to care”   and were expected to nurse ill members of their families and neighbors .

The American edition of Florence Nightingale’s book Notes On Nursing was published in 1860 and Godey’s Lady’s Book (2) wrote of her experiences in the Crimean War.   When war was declared and their men went off to war, women on both sides of the conflict went to their respective army  hospitals to offer their services some as volunteers, some as paid nurses.  Reverby credits the Civil War for bringing the attention of the American public, as the fighting in the Crimea had for the British, the dangers of a disorganized hospital and sanitary services.

Civil War Nurses - Union


Civil War Nurses - Confederate

Kate Cummings, Alabama

Kate Cummings, Alabama

Clara Barton

At the onset of the Civil War and in ensuing battles, Clara Barton mobilizes popular support for wounded and poorly equipped Union soldiers and realizes that to be most effective, she needs to be on the front lines as well. For a You Tube Video about Clara Barton Click Here

For additional information regarding Clara barton and her role in the civil war, visit

African American Nurse - Susie Taylor King

Susie King Taylor, Civil War Nurse

Born into Slavery, taught to read and write  she cared for the wounded and taught other freedmen to read and write.

Excerpts from Her Memoirs - Reminiscences of My Life in Camp published in 1903.


Catholic Nursing Sisters
in the Civil  War



Role of Catholic Nursing Sisters in the Civil War

“The Daughters of Charity at their provincial house in Emmitsburg, Md., could hear the cannons of Pickett's Charge 10 miles off. They helped their chaplain pack a wagon with medical supplies and, when the cannons were silenced, a dozen sisters rode with him to tend to the wounded." 

The Daughters of Charity tended to the wounded on both sides of the conflict, Excerpt from DEPAUL University Vincentian Heritage Journal.[i]



[i]  McNeil, Betty Ann. The Daughters of Charity as Civil War Nurses, Caring without Boundaries,, Fall 10-1-200, DEPAUL University, Vincentian Heritage Journal, Vol.27, Issue 1; volume 26.2,27.1


Willing Hearts is a rare opportunity to se a video about the Sister of the Holy Cross, much in the Sisters' own words. Theirs is a remarkable story of faith, courage and finding joy amidst an angry, divisive time in our country.




Battlefield Care of the Wounded

Civil War Medicine


Physicians and Surgeons

D r. Elizabeth Blackwell

Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell


Dr. Blackwell organized the Women's Central Association of Relief, and worked with Dorothea Dix to train nurses for service in the war.


Dr. S. P. Morse, Surgeon General Confederate Medical Department

Dr. S. P. Morse, Surgeon General Confederate Medical Department


Prepared for the Use of the Confederate States Army

Published by: Richmond: Ayres & Wade, 1863. The only edition.

Description: With 30 drawing plates and 174 individual figures, this was the first of only two illustrated military surgical manuals (one by Moore and one by Chisolm) to have been compiled and printed in the Confederacy. During the Civil War, Dr. Moore was the surgeon general of the Confederate States Army Medical Department.

Field size manual: 7 x 4 1/2 x 1 in. Original marbled boards, and cloth spine. Original stiff paper binding.




Dr. Jonathan Letterman, medical director of the Union Army of the Potomac, revolutionized battlefield medicine with his Letterman Plan. In this video at the Pry Field Hospital Museum, with Kyle Wichtendahl, we discuss the changes he made at the Battle of Antietam. This clip is from Antietam: America's Bloodiest Day.

Smoketown Tented Hospital

Dr. Jonathan Letterman, a surgeon and medical director for the Army of the Potomac, established for the first time during the Civil War a system of tented field hospitals. One such city of white tents was erected at Smoketown, one mile north of the Antietam battlefield.


Smoketown Tented Hospital Source:

Smoketown Tented Hospital Source: