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A Caring Heart - Woman with Blanket, 1855-1865
In 1861 there was no organization of trained nurses in the United States and war had begun. In June of that year, Social reformer Dorothea Dix was appointed Superintendent of Female Nurses of the Union Army and was empowered to create a volunteer nurse corps. Although the exact number is not known, between 5,000 and 10,000 women offeredtheir labor. Trained, professional nurses operated as hospital administrators, gave direct medical care, or served as attendants, offering comfort to the wounded of both sides. When Confederate forces retreated from Gettysburg, they left behind 5,000 wounded soldiers. Union nurse Cornelia Hancock wrote “There are no words in the English language to express the suffering I witnessed today.”
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