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Rare Historical Photos of Nurses During the American Civil War, 1860s

The American Civil War was fought between the United States of America and the Confederate States of America, a collection of eleven southern states that left the Union in 1860 and 1861. A long-standing disagreement over slavery sparked the conflict. After four bloody years of conflict, the United States defeated the Confederate States. In total, more than 2.4 million military members were killed. Millions more were injured, and the South was virtually destroyed.

The images from The Library of Congress give us a glimpse of the brave women of the nineteenth century who offered their medical skills and resources to help during wartime. As the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale is credited with caring for wounded and dying soldiers in the Crimean War, providing a model for the many women who served during the American Civil War.

#1 Annie Etheridge, Civil War nurse of 3rd Michigan Infantry Regiment, who served at battles including Bull Run, Williamsburg, Antietam, Fredricksburg, and Gettysburg.

Annie Etheridge, Civil War nurse of 3rd Michigan Infantry Regiment, who served at battles including Bull Run, Williamsburg, Antietam, Fredricksburg, and Gettysburg.

She was awarded the Kearny Cross medal for bravery

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#2 Carrie Wilkins Pollard, Civil War nurse, who served at U.S. field hospitals in Louisville, Kentucky, Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, and the Floating Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee

Carrie Wilkins Pollard, Civil War nurse, who served at U.S. field hospitals in Louisville, Kentucky, Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, and the Floating Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee

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#3 Catholic nun and nurse Sister Ann Alexis Shorb of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, also known as Henrietta “Harriet” Shorb.

Catholic nun and nurse Sister Ann Alexis Shorb of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, also known as Henrietta "Harriet" Shorb.

She was the founder of Carney Hospital, Boston, and head nurse at Satterlee General Hospital, Philadelphia

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#4 Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, who served as an inspiration for American nurses in the Civil War

Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, who served as an inspiration for American nurses in the Civil War

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#5 Helen L. Gilson, also known as Helen Louise Gilson Osgood, Civil War nurse and head of the Colored Hospital Service.

Helen L. Gilson, also known as Helen Louise Gilson Osgood, Civil War nurse and head of the Colored Hospital Service.

She cared for wounded and dying soldiers at battles including Yorktown, Antietam, Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Petersburg and advocated for a better hospital for African American soldiers and the creation the Colored Hospital Service, of which she became the head until the end of the war

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#6 Nancy Maria Hill, also known as Annie Hill, Civil War nurse at Armory Square Hospital, Washington, D.C.

Nancy Maria Hill, also known as Annie Hill, Civil War nurse at Armory Square Hospital, Washington, D.C.

She later became a physician and founded an organization to support single mothers and their babies in Dubuque, Iowa

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#7 Nurse Mary A.E. Keen of Seminary Hospital, Washington, D.C., and Chesapeake Hospital, Fort Monroe, Virginia who worked from 1861 to 1865 under the jurisdiction of Dorothea Dix and later married Milton Woodworth

Nurse Mary A.E. Keen of Seminary Hospital, Washington, D.C., and Chesapeake Hospital, Fort Monroe, Virginia who worked from 1861 to 1865 under the jurisdiction of Dorothea Dix and later married Milton Woodworth

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#8 Susie King Taylor, who served more than three years as nurse with the 33rd U.S. Colored Troops Infantry Regiment during the American Civil War, although officially enrolled as a laundress

Susie King Taylor, who served more than three years as nurse with the 33rd U.S. Colored Troops Infantry Regiment during the American Civil War, although officially enrolled as a laundress

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#9 Union nurse Clara Barton with Red Cross brooch

Union nurse Clara Barton with Red Cross brooch

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#10 Union nurse Clara Barton

Union nurse Clara Barton

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#11 Union nurse Debbie A. Hughes in uniform

Union nurse Debbie A. Hughes in uniform

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#12 Union nurse Helen Louise Gilson, also known as Helen Louise Gilson Osgood

Union nurse Helen Louise Gilson, also known as Helen Louise Gilson Osgood

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#13 Union nurse Major Belle Reynolds

Union nurse Major Belle Reynolds

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#14 Adeline Blanchard Tyler, also known as “Sister Tyler”, Civil War nurse in Baltimore, Chester, Pennsylvania, and Annapolis, Maryland

Adeline Blanchard Tyler, also known as "Sister Tyler", Civil War nurse in Baltimore, Chester, Pennsylvania, and Annapolis, Maryland

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#15 Alma S. Wolcott Bennett, U.S. Christian Commission nurse of Hospital No. 1, Nashville, Tennessee

Alma S. Wolcott Bennett, U.S. Christian Commission nurse of Hospital No. 1, Nashville, Tennessee

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#16 Almira Fales, philanthropist and nurse during the Civil War

Almira Fales, philanthropist and nurse during the Civil War

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#17 Ann Burtis, Civil War nurse, who worked as matron and head nurse at 1st Division U.S. General Hospital, Hampton, Virginia

Ann Burtis, Civil War nurse, who worked as matron and head nurse at 1st Division U.S. General Hospital, Hampton, Virginia

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#18 Civil War nurse partially identified as Miss Davis of South Street Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in traditional nurse’s uniform

Civil War nurse partially identified as Miss Davis of South Street Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in traditional nurse's uniform

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#19 Eleanor C. Ransom, also known as “Mother,” Civil War nurse, who worked in a Union hospital in Tennessee and aboard the transport ship “North America”, with Union soldier who is showing her a bugle

Eleanor C. Ransom, also known as "Mother," Civil War nurse, who worked in a Union hospital in Tennessee and aboard the transport ship "North America", with Union soldier who is showing her a bugle

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#20 Grace Babcock, Civil War nurse, sitting atop Lookout Mountain, who may have worked with U.S. Sanitary Commission or U.S. General Hospital in Chattanooga

Grace Babcock, Civil War nurse, sitting atop Lookout Mountain, who may have worked with U.S. Sanitary Commission or U.S. General Hospital in Chattanooga

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#21 Harriet E. Preston Grogan, U.S. Army Medical Department nurse of Chesapeake Hospital, Hampton, Virginia

Harriet E. Preston Grogan, U.S. Army Medical Department nurse of Chesapeake Hospital, Hampton, Virginia

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#22 Jane Jennings, also known as Janet, who served in the Civil War in Washington, D.C., and in the Spanish-American War in Cuba

Jane Jennings, also known as Janet, who served in the Civil War in Washington, D.C., and in the Spanish-American War in Cuba

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#23 Katharine Prescott Wormeley, Civil War relief worker, U.S. Sanitary Commission nurse, and director of Lovell Hospital, Portsmouth, Rhode Island

Katharine Prescott Wormeley, Civil War relief worker, U.S. Sanitary Commission nurse, and director of Lovell Hospital, Portsmouth, Rhode Island

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#24 Louisa May Alcott, writer, abolitionist, and Civil War nurse

Louisa May Alcott, writer, abolitionist, and Civil War nurse

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#25 Maria M.C. Hall worked at the Patent Office Hospital, Washington, D.C.; Daniel Webster hospital ship in the Peninsular Campaign; Smoketown Hospital, Antietam; and General Hospital #1, Annapolis

Maria M.C. Hall worked at the Patent Office Hospital, Washington, D.C.; Daniel Webster hospital ship in the Peninsular Campaign; Smoketown Hospital, Antietam; and General Hospital #1, Annapolis

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#26 Mary Ann Bickerdyke, also known as “Mother to the Boys in Blue,” who cared for wounded soldiers on nineteen battlefields, including Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and Atlanta.

Mary Ann Bickerdyke, also known as "Mother to the Boys in Blue," who cared for wounded soldiers on nineteen battlefields, including Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and Atlanta.

She improved or established approximately 300 hospitals as an agent of the U.S. Sanitary Commission

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#27 Mary Jewett Telford, Civil War nurse at Hospital No. 8, Nashville, Tennessee, who was later a charter member of the Woman’s Relief Corps

Mary Jewett Telford, Civil War nurse at Hospital No. 8, Nashville, Tennessee, who was later a charter member of the Woman's Relief Corps

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#28 Mary Morris Husband, Civil War nurse in Philadelphia, at field hospitals including Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Port Royal, and on hospital transports to Baltimore, Antietam, and Fredericksburg

Mary Morris Husband, Civil War nurse in Philadelphia, at field hospitals including Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Port Royal, and on hospital transports to Baltimore, Antietam, and Fredericksburg

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#29 Miss Dorothea L. Dix, Superintendent of Army Nurses for the Union Army, holding a book and sitting in a room with a medical bag on the floor

Miss Dorothea L. Dix, Superintendent of Army Nurses for the Union Army, holding a book and sitting in a room with a medical bag on the floor

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#30 Otelia Butler Mahone, Civil War nurse at hospitals in Richmond, Virginia, and wife of Confederate Major General William Mahone, with child, probably daughter Otelia

Otelia Butler Mahone, Civil War nurse at hospitals in Richmond, Virginia, and wife of Confederate Major General William Mahone, with child, probably daughter Otelia

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#31 Sybil Jones, Quaker missionary who nursed Union soldiers and Confederate prisoners in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Sybil Jones, Quaker missionary who nursed Union soldiers and Confederate prisoners in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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