Nursing the Wounded at Gettysburg
Politically, Civil War re-enactors tend to be conservative, perhaps a reflection of the demographics of a hobby that skews heavily white and middle-aged. One Union infantryman, a year-old college student, described himself as a Marxist and card-carrying member of the Industrial Workers of the World. Most re-enactors have strong preferences, but few stick exclusively to one side, instead switching into Confederate or Union garb if the opposing ranks are too thin.
The Confederates were more likely to say family history had a role in how they picked their side. Some Confederate re-enactors, including Kenny Glass, 46, an emergency medical technician from Selma, Ala. Glass said. Part of the problem is that the historical beliefs have modern day implications. Scrutiny of Civil War re-enacting from outside — as well as introspection and concern about its future on the inside — reached a fever pitch after the violence last year in Charlottesville, Va.
But it built along with protests in many cities that demanded the removal of Confederate statues and monuments from state grounds, spurred by the murder of nine black worshipers in South Charleston, S. Recently, threats against re-enactors have disrupted several events. Last October, police in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia discovered a suspicious device — possibly a pipe bomb — amid the concession stands at the annual Cedar Creek re-enactment.
Those incidents cast a shadow over Gettysburg this year. Word trickled out that Cedar Creek had been canceled entirely, and while the reason was not stated, many thought it was obvious. Downes, the retired machinist from Cleveland. After a skirmish on Saturday afternoon, Mr. Downes was in a melancholic mood.
He said that problems with the heat were forcing him to consider retirement. His wife tagged along for years, portraying a camp washerwoman, but she finally caught what Mr. Like other re-enacting units, his group finds itself back in Gettysburg and other battlefield towns with some regularity.
They occasionally set up camp on National Park Service land to serve as a living history exhibit, and they also meet up during the winter to practice drills. Keefer said with a wry smile. An earlier version of this article misstated the name of a political group. Supported by. There are many ways to be a Civil War re-enactor. I assisted in feeding some of the severely wounded, when I perceived that they were suffering on account of not having their wounds dressed. I did not know whether I could render any assistance in that way, but I thought I would try.
I procured a basin and water, and went to a room where there were seven or eight, some shot in the arms, others in the legs, and one in his back, and another in the shoulder. I asked if anyone would like to have his wounds dressed? Such a horrible sight I had never seen, and hope never to see again. His leg was all covered with worms [maggots]. Broadhead later offered her services at the nearby Lutheran Seminary. Had anyone suggested any such sights as within the bound of possibility, I would have thought it madness.
On the second day at Gettysburg, when his regiment was ordered forward to the Peach Orchard in support of the battered Third Corps, a Pennsylvania officer was astonished to see a woman on horseback and in uniform galloping back from the line of battle. She was a nurse of the Third Corps, Anna Etheridge, and was directing the removal of the wounded.
She was cool and self-possessed and did not seem to mind the fire. She had several horses shot from under her, but through all the battles in which she served 32 officially, but probably more she received only one slight wound herself, at Chancellorsville.
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Annie Etheridge was one of only three women awarded the coveted Kearny Cross. Explore multimedia from the series and navigate through past posts, as well as photos and articles from the Times archive. For other women, caring for the wounded was a family affair. You can always tell; when people are good to soldiers they are sure to have friends in the Army. As Army nurses at Gettysburg, Woolsey and her mother worked for three weeks near the railroad depot, feeding and caring for men who were being sent to hospitals in Baltimore and Harrisburg.
After the war, she married and moved to New Haven, where she and her husband founded the Connecticut Training School for Nurses.
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And while many women made the journey to the battlefield on their own, others came in groups, in at least one case as members of a religious order. This picture of human beings slaughtered by their fellowmen in a cruel Civil War was so terrible. Father Burlando returned to Emmitsburg that night and came back the next morning with more bandages and more sisters; about 40 in all nursed at Gettysburg.
The care and kindness they bestowed on their patients helped remove many of the prejudices that were then held against their religion. Some of them iterated a single word, as, 'doctor,' or 'help,' or 'God,' or 'oh! The act of calling seemed to lull the pain. Many were unconscious and lethargic, moving their finger, and lips mechanically, but never more to open their eyes upon the light; they were already going through the valley and the shadow.
Tony Horwitz, a former war correspondent and the author of Confederates in the Attic and the forthcoming Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War , says that the front-line dispatches influenced his modern battlefront reporting.
Otherwise, they're just statistics. Photography, still in its infancy, was not yet a part of the daily news cycle. But the Civil War was the first such conflict recorded by photographers the most famous of whom was Mathew Brady. Because the primitive wet-plate technology of the era required that subjects be still at the moment the camera's shutter snapped, images of the era depict virtually every aspect of the war but one: battle. But that in time would change, too.
Think of these three amendments to the U. Constitution, all ratified within five years of the end of the Civil War:. Before the Civil War, the concept of liberty and justice for all meant little unless you were white and male. Going beyond the abolition of slavery, the 14th and 15th amendments were the first extensions of citizenship and voting rights to minority groups. Of course, half of us — women — went without a voice until , but the postwar laws set a precedent that eventually would lead to suffrage for all adults.
Imperfect in practice over the next years, voting rights finally gained protection through the Civil Rights Act, ensuring that bigotry could never again disenfranchise any U.
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An unidentified woman stands in front of a building in Georgia that displays both the state and U. It took the War Between the States to make us one nation, indivisible. Before , the United States were loosely tied entities and always described as a plural noun, as in, "The United States are in trade with France. The war's bloodiest battle came at Gettysburg in , with 51, casualties in just three days.
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Although the Union stopped Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Northern invasion, young men's bodies littered the farms and gardens that had turned into a battleground. Was the preservation of these united states worth the cost in blood? At a memorial for the dead, Lincoln intentionally called on the Union to persevere for a single national ideal: "[T]hat we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
The effect of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, just words from beginning to end, was radical and immediate. But the shift was more than a statesman's creation. It was also forged in the experience of hunger, disease, blood and death shared for four years by the Union and Confederacy alike. Tellingly, the tradition of Civil War reenactments began even before the conflict had ended, as returning soldiers recreated battlefield scenes at home to educate the citizenry and pay tribute to their fallen comrades.
Ken and Ric Burns, in their introduction to the book The Civil War, write: "Some events so pervasively condition the life of a culture that they retain the power to fascinate permanently.
They become the focus of myth and the anchor of meaning for a whole society. The Civil War became our anchor. Ever since, whether big government or small government, whether doves or hawks, black or white, we have all been one thing: Americans. You are leaving AARP. Please return to AARP.
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