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Thread: Field nurse

  1. #21
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    Google Books also has several contemporary works on the Sanitary Commission, e.g.,

    The Sanitary Commission of the United States Army: A Succinct Narrative of ...‎ by United States Sanitary Commission - 1864 - 318 pages

    The United States Sanitary Commission: A Sketch of Its Purposes and Its Work‎ - by Katharine Prescott Wormeley - 1863 - 299 pages

    History of the United States Sanitary Commission: Being the General Report ...‎ by United States Sanitary Commission, Charles Janeway Stillé - United States - 1868

    These are great sources for those interested in the operations of this organization. If you search you'll find even more.
    M. A. Schaffner
    Midstream Regressive Complainer

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Meister
    If I were to find a female in the ranks I would have her discharged according to Army Regulations Immediately. Being a Christian I would try provide for her a means to return to her family.. If that is possible.
    Nothing's immediate in the army. There has to be a court martial for false muster at least, and a refund of bounty, the cost of any clothing issued above the allowance, &c. &c. But I'm sure her transportation at least part of the way home would be covered. Not comfortable, but covered.
    M. A. Schaffner
    Midstream Regressive Complainer

  3. #23
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    Well I should have said with out delay on my part instead of immediately . You know the army "hurry up and wait!"
    David Meister

    Surgeon C.S.A.

    1st Assistant Surgeon 108th Regt. Ills. Vols.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pvt Schnapps
    Harry's right about the role of women in the medical department or as vivandiers. I don't think those taking exception to his statements have provided much beyond a list of names. It would help immeasurably if they could also provide some reputable original source citations.

    As an example, we have this from "General Orders of the War Department" (available and searchable on Google Books):

    "War Dep't, Adjutant General's Office
    Washington, June 9, 1861

    "General Orders
    No. 31

    "Women nurses will not reside in the camps, nor accompany regiments on the march; but those who apply for service, and are highly accredited, having certificates from two Physicians, and two Clergymen of standing; and will forward the same to Miss D. L. Dix, at Washington, will receive a certificate in return accrediting them for service in any Military Hospital in the United States where such services are required.

    "By order,
    L. Thomas, Adjutant General"

    Further reading in the Surgeon's Manual and Steward's Manual makes it even clearer that the "any Military Hospital" referred to a general hospital in the rear. From a general order of the AOP written by Letterman, hospitals in time of battle consisted of field dressing stations managed by a small number of the regiment's medical personnel with the majority of such personnel consolidated at divisional hospitals. There was plenty of work for women and civilian employees of the Hospital Corps in Washington City, Philadelphia and elsewhere.

    So, apart from an individual impression of Mary Tepe at Fredericksburg or Clara Barton at Antietam, there really is no role for a woman on the battlefield unless she's portraying a man, and even the documentation for Tepe and Barton is, as I recall, pretty weak.

    If someone has a contemporary original source that would indicate otherwise, I would love to see it. I have not been able to find anything of the sort in the ORs or the books and periodicals on the Cornell MOA site.
    So pension records and regimental histories are not realiable sources now? So if we are going PEC like there is no role for women there is equally no role for white haired privates.

    Brian Schwatka
    Surgeon
    3RD US Regular Inf Co D+K

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ross L. Lamoreaux
    Flamebait like that serves no practical purpose on this forum other than to rile people up. Harry has never intimated that he has an anti-female tilt, in fact, his only tilt is "pro history". Rather than spoon feed research to people about a commonly known historical fact that by and large, women did not go on the battlefield, you just called him out and showed quite a classless act of posting personal messages, all to provoke and cause trouble. They are called "personal" messages for a reason. I do respect that you signed your posting, however. Just like the "leopard skin pants" from Echoes of Glory, you can always find isolated research back-up to show something occured at least once in the war, but we should all be more interested in the what occured most commonly, and that without a doubt was that women and civilians rarely worked on the battlefield.


    So as I have asked several times are you equally "pro-history" when it comes to the age and size of most reenactors? Of course we don't tell older or overweight reenactors they can't play cause they don't make the norm. Yes women in the hospitals were not the norm during the battles but in the days immeadiately following they were not uncommon.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Regular DOC
    So pension records and regimental histories are not realiable sources now? So if we are going PEC like there is no role for women there is equally no role for white haired privates.

    Brian Schwatka
    Surgeon
    3RD US Regular Inf Co D+K
    I'm not saying that at all, Brian (and BTW, nice to see you at Fredericksburg on Saturday) and I'm sorry if I gave that impression. I've written pretty extensively on this forum and others about the inevitable demographic challenges we face in reenacting and I've always argued for tolerance. Even the average "campaigner" is, from my observation and the limited data I've collected, about 2 inches taller, 20 years older, and 30-40 pounds heavier than the average original soldier. So, like Harry and unlike many others, I can accept a woman portraying a man if she's as close to the original as I am. We also know that women did pass as men.

    What I object to are vivandiers, ice angels, Mexican military observers, kilted bagpipers, and others on battlefields when they weren't there. I don't even like to see the wrong corps badges, zouaves, Garibaldisti, or even sharp shooters where they weren't. Same with female nurses. If you can document it, great. But the documentation I've seen presented for vivandiers, for example, is pretty slim and anecdotal.

    And sources written during the actual war tend to carry more weight with me than works written long after. Regimental histories written in the 80s and 90s can trend towards the fanciful. Awards of pensions could be influenced by politics. If I see something unusual in a post-war history, I try to check it out with a source closer to the actual war. In some cases the post-war account turns out to be demonstrably false.

    Interestingly, some of the best post-war descriptions of the army, such as Si Klegg and Hardtack and Coffee (both of which check out pretty well with contemporary accounts), make absolutely no mention of women as frontline nurses or vivandiers. Even laundresses got pretty scarce pretty early, though G. A. Sala and others mention their presence in winter encampments.

    Going a little further, if General Orders forbade women accompanying the regiments in the field, then such an impression had better be pretty well documented if the person portraying such wishes other living historians to take them seriously.

    I hope this is clearer. As others have stated, there are some great roles for women as women in reenacting without having to invent more.
    M. A. Schaffner
    Midstream Regressive Complainer

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Regular DOC
    So as I have asked several times are you equally "pro-history" when it comes to the age and size of most reenactors? Of course we don't tell older or overweight reenactors they can't play cause they don't make the norm. Yes women in the hospitals were not the norm during the battles but in the days immeadiately following they were not uncommon.
    I am so pro-history that I practice what I preach by mostly portraying a citizen now. At the age of 39 and being more portly than the average private soldier, I know when my gig is up, so in the interest of the common historical experience, I am more believable as a civilian. Instead of the usual redirection of blame on the dreaded people who focus on historical based practices, and since we don't reenact the days following battles very often, lets go back to discussing history-heavy roles and not trying to justify an uncommon practice
    Ross L. Lamoreaux
    Tampa Bay History Center
    www.tampabayhistorycenter.org
    On Facebook at: Tampa Bay History Center Living History Programs

    "The simplest things, done well, can carry a huge impact" - Karin Timour, 2012

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Regular DOC
    Yes women in the hospitals were not the norm during the battles but in the days immeadiately following they were not uncommon.
    Here's an opportunity for you to document something Brian. As I read the AOP general order by Letterman from August, 1862, there were no women at divisional hospitals because those staffs consisted of surgeons and enlisted personnel detached from the regiments. The women would, per the June, 1861 General Order, be limited to service well to the rear, a role that Louisa May Alcott did a wonderful job of describing in her hospital sketches. If you can find something that shows otherwise -- that Dix, the USSC, or USCC commonly sent women to the front -- let us know.

    Alternatively, you could have a woman portraying a local civilian caught up in the fray and assisting with the care of wounded, but that should be something appropriate to the specific event. There are some excellent reenactors out there who portray a wide range of 19th century civilians. But I don't think any of them portray a female "field nurse" because the position did not exist.
    M. A. Schaffner
    Midstream Regressive Complainer

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ross L. Lamoreaux
    Flamebait like that serves no practical purpose on this forum other than to rile people up.

    On the contrary Ross. Harry made a vague and generalized statement. One again, and I will spoon feed it to you since you seemed to miss it; I said I agree that what he said was historically accurate. My problem is that he presented it without backing it up with any other information. He basically just sad, "It never, ever, never, ever happened." The way his message came across stunk of hidden agenda.

    Harry has never intimated that he has an anti-female tilt, in fact, his only tilt is "pro history". Rather than spoon feed research to people about a commonly known historical fact that by and large, women did not go on the battlefield,

    I agree that this is true, but, if he is so history heavy, he should cite evidence for his case. Once again, we should be very careful of broad generalizations.

    you just called him out and showed quite a classless act of posting personal messages, all to provoke and cause trouble. They are called "personal" messages for a reason.

    Once again, he had to show his cowardice by sending me a private message, so he would not have to show everyone else his poor attempt to corner and intimidate me. Hence why he did not respond to my reply to his pm, nor on this thread. Classless is having to covertly send private messages to intimidate others into submission. Just because he sent it privately does not mean I am obligated to keep it that way. I would have posted my reply as well, but what was said on may part, as I stated earlier, does not comply with forum rules of posting for the general public.

    I do respect that you signed your posting, however. Just like the "leopard skin pants" from Echoes of Glory, you can always find isolated research back-up to show something occured at least once in the war, but we should all be more interested in the what occured most commonly, and that without a doubt was that women and civilians rarely worked on the battlefield.

    Once again, Ross, I agree, but; you cannot make over generalizations, not cite any research or examples, and then get offended when called out.

    Ross,
    I find your posts on this forum both interesting, and knowledgeable. Also, you almost always seem to cite your research. I am assuming that Harry is a friend of yours, since you seem to have come to his aid. I respect that, and would do the same for any of my friends. I hope you also see that I have a point here as well.

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ross L. Lamoreaux
    Instead of the usual redirection of blame on the dreaded people who focus on historical based practices, and since we don't reenact the days following battles very often, lets go back to discussing history-heavy roles and not trying to justify an uncommon practice
    It's ironic, I was just discussing by email with the woman portraying my sister at Piney Woods, where the heck are our children? We could sure use a teen/twenty-something female or male in our family, if they could handle the role physically. So there are roles available at history-heavy events for young females and children.

    The problem I've found is that for a lot of reenactors, the history-heavy events are either too scattered requiring too much travel, or too specific requiring too much adaptation (you can't just have a recurring role with your group that portrays the Sanitary Commission or whatever), or too challenging or intimidating no matter how helpful and supportive one tries to be, or honestly just not what someone thinks would sound like fun.

    So then they're left with the events where ice angels might be accepted, might not; where female soldiers might be okay or might be complained about; where you have to pick a role and try to fit it in rather than being given a list of roles that are definitely wanted; where you have two groups to deal with, the overall organizers and your local unit. Ironically, it can be harder to become accepted at an event that's more open to diversity, because each group or subgroup or individual may try to enforce their own view through peer pressure, and the views may be very different.

    Hank Trent
    hanktrent@voyager.net

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