Hundreds of women worked as Civil War nurses, and their invaluable service helped establish nursing as a career.
Dorothea Dix, known for her earlier campaign for mental hospitals, was in charge of Union army nurses.
She had very strict standards and at first refused to hire attractive women under 30, but this policy did not last long.
On the Confederate side, several southern women set up hospitals in their towns, and many were active as nurses in those hospitals.
Sally Tompkins, for example, ran a hospital in her home in Richmond, Virginia, where she treated more than 1,300 soldiers during the war. So good was her care, only seventy-three of them died.
At one point she was named a captain in the Confederate calvary just so she could continue her work.
In addition to freeing slaves through the network known as the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman helped the Union Army as a spy, scout, and nurse.
The major African American leader Frederick Douglass was one of many people who praised her “devotion to freedom.”