Confederate Nurse

Overview

Although the Civil War was the first major American conflict in which women nurses played a significant role, the dearth of information about these women makes the diary of a Southern medical worker an especially important document. A Confederate Nurse records the daily experiences, hardships, and joys of Ada W. Bacot, a plantation owner and childless widow whose Southern patriotism prompted her to leave her native South Carolina to care for wounded Confederates in Charlottesville, Virginia. Bacot’s journal sheds...
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Overview

Although the Civil War was the first major American conflict in which women nurses played a significant role, the dearth of information about these women makes the diary of a Southern medical worker an especially important document. A Confederate Nurse records the daily experiences, hardships, and joys of Ada W. Bacot, a plantation owner and childless widow whose Southern patriotism prompted her to leave her native South Carolina to care for wounded Confederates in Charlottesville, Virginia. Bacot’s journal sheds light on her own experiences and also on the themes that dominated the lives of Southern white women throughout the nineteenth century. A Confederate Nurse reveals the Confederate nationalism that motivated some Southern women and the work these women performed to sustain the war effort.

About the Author:
Jean V. Berlin is coeditor of Sherman’s Civil War: Selected Correspondence of William T. Sherman, 1860—1865. A graduate of Haverford College and the University of Virginia, she has taught history at the University of Virginia and Wofford College. Berlin lives in Chandler, Arizona.

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Editorial Reviews

Georgia Historical Quarterly
Bacot’s diary provides fascinating insights both into extraordinary events and into everyday life. . . . Jean V. Berlin does a superb job of both annotating and analyzing the text."
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Bacot, a 27-year-old widowed South Carolina plantation owner who was devoted to God and the Confederacy, found an answer to her prayer for ``something to do'' when her state recruited nurses. With other volunteers she headed for Charlottesville, Va., and a converted hotel run by what Berlin describes as the ``chaotic Confederate medical system.'' While most of the medical duties were handled by men--the wards being considered ``scarcely a place for a lady''--Bacot and the other volunteers tended to housekeeping, cooking and laundering for the patients, one of whom she married. Still, there was time for social activity which she recounts with zest. Berlin, a former history professor at the University of Virginia, who annotates the diary, emphasizes the importance of Southern women's contribution to the war effort. And though Bacot's relationships to her own slaves are beyond the scope of her diary, Berlin points out that the author reflects the plantation owner's paternalistic belief in the inferiority of blacks. (Dec.)
Library Journal
Berlin, who coedited the correspondence of William T. Sherman, has selected entries from the Civil War diaries of a devout and intelligent slaveowner whose wartime nursing experiences proved both fulfilling and liberating. Few such diaries have been published, which makes Bacot's account of hospital routine especially valuable. Bacot was an intensely patriotic South Carolinian and Confederate. Her story will help to inform current scholarly debates over the role of women in the Confederacy (for another view, see Catherine Clinton's Divided Houses: Gender and the Civil War , Oxford Univ. Pr., 1992). Bacot's difficulties in dealing with slaves will be of interest to readers of Elizabeth Fox-Genovese's Within the Plantation Household ( LJ 12/88). Recommended for collections of Civil War history, women's history, Southern history, and medical history.-- Paul M. Pruitt Jr., Univ. of Alabama Sch. of Law Lib., Tuscaloosa
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570033865
  • Publisher: University of South Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 9/2/2000
  • Pages: 220
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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