Sisters of Charity: Nuns, Medicine, and the Civil War

Though the Civil War is one of the largest fields of research in American history, little has been devoted to the study of the role of Catholic women during the war. However, the research of Dr. William B. Kurtz has uncovered a vast number of nuns serving in hospitals in both the Union and Confederate armies. In this single document site, Kurtz here gives insight into a letter written by U.S. Surgeon General William A. Hammond to President Abraham Lincoln that espouses the virtues of having nuns serve in this capacity. Hammond referred to these nurses as "Sisters of Charity," though numerous orders would serve during the war. Kurtz argues that the work of these nuns was crucial in eliminating at least some of the anti-Catholic bias that existed in the United States in the 19th century.


See "Letter from William A. Hammond to Abraham Lincoln" to begin