Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 49

Mary Ann Bickerdyke

war nurse

Nurse and humanitarian, born in Knox Co, Ohio, USA. A farmer's daughter with little formal education, at age 42 she was left a widow with three children. She supported herself by practising ‘Botanic’ medicine, and when the Civil War broke out she volunteered to work in the hospitals at the Union army base at Cairo, IL. From then until the surrender at Appomattox, she worked as a nurse and caregiver both in battle and behind the lines, taking time out only to give speeches and gain support for the Sanitary Commission. After the war, she worked for various social service causes. She received a special pension from Congress in 1886, and retired to Kansas in 1887.

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