19 July 2006

Happy Birthday Mary Ann Bickerdyke

It seems I have a namesake who was born on this day in 1817.

Mary Ann Bickerdyke 1817 - 1901

She was a Union nurse in the American Civil War. Affectionately called Mother Bickerdyke, she served throughout the war in the West and was a favorite of the enlisted men whose rights she championed. She was also a favorite with generals Grant and Sherman. After the war she lobbied in Washington to secure pensions for Civil War nurses and veterans.

From Wikipedia:
After the outbreak of the Civil War, she joined a field hospital at Fort Donelson, and worked on the first hospital boat. During the War she became chief of nursing under the command of General Ulysses S. Grant, and served at the Battle of Vicksburg.
( ... )
By the end of the war, with the help of the U.S. Sanitary Commission, Mother Bickerdyke had built 300 hospitals and aided the wounded on 19 battlefields.

I certainly would not presume to compare myself with this extraordinary woman, but it does seem as though we might have something in common besides our name:
When his staff complained about the outspoken, insubordinate female nurse who consistently disregarded the army's red tape and military procedures, Union Gen. William T. Sherman threw up his hands and exclaimed, "She outranks me. I can't do a thing in the world."


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