Prologue Magazine

Fall 2002, Vol. 34, No. 3

Band of Angels
Sister Nurses in the Spanish-American War, Part 2

By Mercedes Graf
© 2002 by Mercedes Graf

Sr. M. Nolasco McColm at Chickamauga Sister M. Nolasco McColm of the Sisters of Mercy in front of her sleeping tent at Chickamauga Park. (Courtesy, Sisters of Mercy, Baltimore)

The Sisters of Mercy

The Order of Mercy was founded in Ireland on the banks of the Liffey in 1831,although the beginnings of the Baltimore congregation date back to the year 1852 when application was made to the bishop of Pittsburgh to take charge of a hospital in Washington, DC. By the end of the Civil War, Mercy's war nurses left a proud record that started when Secretary of War Edwin Stanton invited the sisters to care for soldiers sent to Stanton Hospital in Washington, D.C.

With the outbreak of the war in Cuba, the Sisters of Mercy of Baltimore responded to the call again by sending a small contingent with Sr. Bernard O'Kane, who had nursed in the Civil War at the Old Armory and Douglas Hospital.60 She and twelve companions were ordered to Camp Thomas in Chickamauga Park, Georgia.61 Sr. Nolasco McColm, who had been a pharmacist at Mercy Hospital, kept a diary about her experiences that commenced on August 20, 1898, when the sisters left Baltimore for a train ride that lasted twenty-seven hours before they arrived at Chickamauga.

The harsh conditions at Camp Thomas affected both patients and nurses alike. A Baltimore newspaper reported that Sr. Mary Flanagan fell victim to typhoid fever while on duty in the camp.62 She had actually become ill at Camp Poland in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she had been transferred in the middle of September after serving at the General Hospital in Chickamauga. The article further disclosed, "several others were dangerously ill, their lives being for a time despaired of, but these eventually recovered or are now convalescent."

Through September of 1898, the Sisters of Mercy also nursed alongside other community members at camps located at Knoxville, Tennessee, and Columbus, Georgia, and a group from San Francisco cared for the sick and wounded at the Presidio. In 1921, the eight sisters who were still alive were awarded service medals.

Sisters of the Holy Cross

The Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross was founded in 1841 in LeMans, France, but sisters came to the United States two years later. Although they were not a nursing order, they had nursed on the battlefields during the Civil War. As four of them were known to have cared for wounded on the transport Red Rover, these sisters are often considered the forerunners of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps. After the war ended, they established hospitals in Idaho, Utah, Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana.

When the DAR representative, Ella Lorraine Dorsey, wrote to the Mother General at Notre Dame, Indiana, requesting sisters for nurses in the Spanish-American War, twelve sisters of the Holy Cross from South Bend, Indiana, made their way again into the service of their country. Two of them, Sisters Valentina and Emerentiana, were not trained nurses but were sent to assist in any way possible.63 After signing their contracts, the nuns were immediately dispatched to the Third Division Hospital at Camp Hamilton, Lexington, Kentucky. In late November 1898, they were dispatched to the First Brigade Hospital at Camp Conrad in Columbus, Georgia.

When the Columbus Hospital was closed, the sisters were ordered to Matanzas, Cuba. On January 14, 1899, they boarded the transport ship Panama at Savannah, Georgia. Unfortunately, when they arrived, they learned that they were to return on the same transport that had just brought them, as their services were no longer needed (a similar experience to that of the Daughters of Charity in Santiago a few months earlier).

While the record of these sisters has been detailed elsewhere, not enough can be said about their dedication and sacrifices.64 In short, as the nurses battled typhoid fever, they were responsible for managing and maintaining the environment of the sick wards. They were in charge of the diet kitchens, and they assumed the routine tasks of changing the linen, bathing the patients, and even writing letters home for them. Never did they waver in their untiring care of their patients throughout their grueling hours of hard work. Some of the nuns themselves became ill, a sad fact that was true for many nurses, whether lay women or religious sisters.

Personal Data cards were located for eight of these religious women: Sr. Galasia Baden, Sr. Lydia Clifford, Sr. Joachim Casey, Sr. Genevieve Conway, Sr. Camillas McSweeney, Sr. Cornelius McCabe, Sr. Florentia Stack, and Sr. Valentina Reid. These sisters ranged in age from twenty-nine to forty-four and were born in Ireland and the United States, coming from Maryland in the southeast to Utah in the far west. All eight indicated that they had prior nursing experience of from one to ten years. Seven of the sisters had their contracts annulled in January or February of 1899 when their services were no longer needed. Sister Reid went on sick leave from November 30 to December 29 of 1898 before her contract was annulled early in January "on account of illness." All of them indicated that they were strong and healthy and able to leave immediately for duty.65

One writer concluded that the Sisters of the Holy Cross "performed valuable services in camp hospitals as well as on the train or ship, and they provided their own hospitals for the care of sick soldiers."66 In postwar years the nuns established eight nursing schools, three of which were initiated by sisters who had labored in the Spanish-American War.

Cuban Sisters of Charity

Government records listed twelve Cuban Sisters of Charity who also tended to the wounded.67 Personal Data cards were located for three of these women: Sisters Simona Galarza, Josefa Guarnero, and Mercedes Civit.68 All of the nuns revealed they had prior nursing experience that ranged from thirteen to fifteen years. After signing their contracts, the first two sisters were assigned to Military Hospital No. 1 in Havana, Cuba, where they remained until their contracts were annulled ten months later. This hospital was the chief military hospital of Cuba under the Americans, as it has been under the Spaniards, when it was called Hospital Alfonso XIII.

Years later, the chief surgeon remarked:

There was very little sickness among them, considering the amount of work, loss of sleep, anxiety, mosquitoes, and hot weather, to which they were subjected . . . they proved a veritable blessing to the overworked medical officers, saving them much time, relieving them of much anxiety, and preventing them being turned out unnecessarily at night.69

At Las Animas, the yellow-fever hospital in Havana, "the work of these nurses was both arduous and dangerous."70 It was to this civilian hospital that Sr. Mercedes Civit was sent and where she remained one month before her contract was annulled.71 Miss Turner, another nurse at Las Animas, explained how three different buildings were used as wards: one for suspects, one for acute cases, and the other for convalescents. "The first two were houses and well suited to the work, as a constant moving and shifting was necessary in order to keep those very ill or dying from the others. . . . We had twelve hour duty, which meant about thirteen, as it was impossible to have our charts in order with all the work there was to do."72

Since the care of patients with yellow fever generally followed a prescribed regimen, we can assume that Sister Mercedes not only knew the specific action to be taken as the various stages of the illness progressed, but that she was responsible for treating soldiers under her care. At the onset of the disease, a purgative was administered to rid the body of systemic toxins while high fever was treated with cold sponging, baths, and large iced-water enemas. Mouths had to be cleaned thoroughly and frequently, owing to the constant bleeding of the gums. As it was impossible for patients to take or retain medicine, two enemas of plain faucet water were given daily. It was said that "the onerous work of making the patients' lives less wretched, especially when many of the treatments were themselves offensive, called upon all of a nurse's energies and resources. . . . The situation extracted a heavy physical and emotional toll from nurses."73

Congregation of American Sisters

Just before the Spanish-American War, the Congregation of American Sisters, a very small order that never numbered more than twelve Native American women, broke with the Roman Catholic Church. Four Lakota nuns who remained in this group volunteered as contract nurses under the auspices of their priest, Rev. Francis Craft. Although the initial focus of the order was on teaching, Father Craft taught nursing skills to these women, and after offering their services to the War Department, he accompanied them as a hospital steward.

The Indian sisters in this group included: Susan Bordeaux (Rev. Mother Mary Anthony), assistant general; Josephine Two Bears (Rev. Sr. Mary Joseph); Ella Clarke (Rev. Sr. Mary Gertrude); and Anna B. Pleets (Rev. Mother Mary Bridget).74 Personal Data cards located for the first three women indicate they came from Fort Pierre, South Dakota. These sisters noted that they had received hospital training in the Hospital of American Sisters. They gave their ages as twenty-eight (for Clarke) and thirty-one (for Bordeaux and Two Bears) and stated they had "dark" coloring. A handwritten note on each card recommended them for duty, as they were "accustomed in missionary work in Indian camps to severe hardships, and privations, and exposure to heat and cold; and can therefore endure safely what most nurses cannot not endure. Accustomed also to attending sick in camps where the usual appliances and conveniences could not be had: and can therefore be of service in emergencies."75

The sisters signed contracts for duty as nurses at the going rate of thirty dollars a month, and all of them were sent on October 18, 1898, to Camp Cuba Libre, Jacksonville, Florida. One month later, they reported to the Division Hospital at Jacksonville. On December 13, 1898, they were transferred to the Second Division Hospital at Savannah, Georgia, and on December 22 they reported to the Second Division Hospital, Camp Columbia, Havana, Cuba. In February of 1899 they were again transferred, this time to the Military Hospital in Havana, Cuba. At the end of the month their contracts were annulled when their services were no longer required.

Mother Anthony, however, went on sick report on November 30, 1898, although she resumed her duties two weeks later, serving until the annulment of her contract as noted above. A notation on her card dated October 15, 1899, states: "Died, illness began with an attack of pneumonia while serving at Jacksonville. Died at Pinar del Rio, Cuba, and was buried in the military cemetery at Camp Egbert, Pinor del Rio."76

Sometime after the war, the three remaining sisters left the Congregation. Anna Pleets married Joe Dubray, and it appears that she worked as a midwife in later years. After her death in 1948, she was given a military funeral and was buried at St. Peter's Cemetery in Fort Yates, North Dakota.77 Ella Clark later married Joe Hodgkiss and spent her last years in the Old Soldiers Home in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Josephine Two Bears stayed in Cuba to run an orphanage until 1901. After returning to the United States, she became the wife of Joachim Hairychin but died during childbirth in 1909.78

Remarks on the Personal Data cards for the latter two women noted that they were "not strong" and had "poor health." They were given ratings of "4," which was the lowest ranking possible. A review of their assignment of duties from the Personal Data cards reveals that all four Indian sisters had been posted to five different hospitals in four months. This also demonstrates how sisters from the various religious communities moved from camp to camp as one site closed or an emergency need arose at another— a fact that attested to their devotion and commitment to the wounded. Is it any wonder that some contract nurses suffered from poor health by the end of their service? During the Civil War, "nurses sometimes broke under the strain and had to resign. . . . Practically all had to take periodic furloughs and at least one in ten suffered physical breakdowns while in the service."79 Nurses in the Spanish-American War were no less at risk.

Other Orders

Two nuns from the Protestant Sisters of St. Margaret and an undetermined number of sisters from the St. Barnabas Guild, an Episcopal organization, responded to the call for nurses.80 All these women, who signed government contracts, were accepted regardless of their religious belief if they completed the application blanks furnished by the DAR and filed them in the usual way. Once all these sisters had their qualifications individually certified, they were under contract and received pay exactly as the other nurses. Reports regarding their work were generally quite satisfactory, while Dr. McGee reported "some of the surgeons prefer them to the other nurses, and some prefer the others."81 While it is known that Sisters from other Catholic communities also served, they were not under contract.

Conclusion

By the time of the Spanish-American War, women began to make advances in nursing that were recognized by military officials, the medical corps, and the common soldier. No longer the untrained corps that entered the Civil War, nurses knew hospital and surgical procedures, and they demonstrated their skills in tent hospitals and operating rooms. Among the nurses who served were sisters from the various orders that have been described here. They provided valuable assistance not only in the camps but also on transports, trains, and in their own hospitals. In doing so, however, they often were overworked, became ill, and sometimes died after contracting the same fevers they had come to treat.

As had occurred in the Civil War, sister nurses continued to win the respect of the officers and surgeons with whom they worked, and they were often preferred to the other contract nurses. When the Spanish-American War ended, they returned home and resumed their normal tasks of nursing, teaching, and other charitable works. While much praise was given to them as a result of their work and dedication, the sisters viewed the hardships and experiences of camp life as an extension of their religious calling.

As one newspaper account noted:

It will have become generally known . . . that 224 sisters of different orders ministered to the sick and wounded, and that the services of many more were demanded by those who could best appreciate them. . . . The charity and devotedness of these angels of mercy constitute the silver lining to the war cloud.82

Band of Angels, Part 1


Notes

I would like to acknowledge the assistance of several people and institutions for archival materials and photos: My thanks in particular to Sr. Betty Ann McNeil and her assistant, Bonnie Weatherly, Archives & Mission Services, Daughters of Charity, St. Joseph's Provincial House, Emmitsburg, Maryland, for their generous assistance with research there. I am also grateful to Sr. Charline Sullivan and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Louis Province, for making their archival materials available; the Sisters of Mercy in Chicago, Illinois, and Sr. Paula Diann Marlin, Mercy Center, Baltimore, Maryland; and the Sisters of the Holy Cross at Bertrand Hall, St. Mary's, Notre Dame, Indiana. Thanks also to the Pike County Historical Society; Brenda Finnicum for her personal comments on the Lakota Indian sisters; Donna Clark at Women in Military Service for America Memorial; Department of the Army, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology; and Trevor K. Plante, military archivist, for his consultation and help at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC.

1 The terms nun and sister are used interchangeably here, although the former term has been used to refer to cloistered women. While Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell helped to train a hundred women volunteers for the government and there were a few other women who had served in the Crimean War or managed to get some training on their own in select hospitals, by and large, volunteers had no formal training. Nursing schools began to spring up as a result of women's work in the Civil War. For more background on nursing, see Nutting and Dock, A History of Nursing.

2 Sr. Mary Denis Maher, To Bind Up the Wounds: Catholic Sister Nurses in the U.S. Civil War (1989), p. 101. For more information on Civil War nuns, see Ellen Ryan Jolly, Nuns of the Battlefield (1927). In the course of the war, at least 617 sisters from twelve different orders nursed both Union and Confederate soldiers.

3 Report of the Commission Appointed by the President to Investigate the Conduct of the War Department in the War with Spain (1900), vol. 1, p. 171, hereinafter referred to as "Conduct of the War with Spain." There are eight volumes.

4 From an untitled article probably meant to be a history of the Army Nurse Corps, unsigned (but apparently written by Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee), "Correspondence/Office Files of Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee, 1898 - 1936" (McGee Files), Entry 230, Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army), Record Group (RG) 112, National Archives Building (NAB), Washington, DC.

5 In an article, Dr. McGee pointed out that the DAR was not selected to do this work but volunteered. "Had the daughters not done this, there would have no such thing as an 'Army standard.'" See "Standard for Army Nurses," Trained Nurse and Hospital Review (TNHR) 33 (April 1899): 171.

6 Testimony of Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee, "Conduct of the War with Spain," vol. 1, p. 726. Dr. Nicholas Senn noted that nuns were on duty in nearly all of the national camps in Cuba and Puerto Rico as well as the United States. He stated that the number of sisters on duty as of September 24, 1898, was 232, and that "several of these brave sisters have gone to their final reward." See his book, Medico-Surgical Aspects of the Spanish-American War (1901), p. 324.

7 Testimony of Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee, "Conduct of the War with Spain," vol. 7, p. 3171.

8 In 1633 Vincent de Paul established the Company of the Daughters of Charity. Almost two centuries later, Elizabeth Seton, the American foundress of the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, adopted the rule of the French Daughters of Charity for her Emmitsburg, MD, community. In 1850 the Emmitsburg community united with the international community based in Paris. Government records, newspapers, and contemporary accounts, therefore, refer to them as "Sisters of Charity."

9 The number of sisters and their names are reported in "Memorandum for the Secretary of War, June 14, 1912," Historical Files of the Army Nurse Corps 1898 - 1947, Entry 103, box 3, RG 112, NAB.

10 Sr. Beatrice to George M. Sternberg, Surgeon General U.S.A., Apr. 23, 1898, Historical Files, Entry 103, box 3, RG 112, NAB. "Letter to Sr. Beatrice, Superior of Providence Hospital, Washington DC acknowledging receipt of letter offering the services of the Sisters," Apr. 28, 1898, from the Assistant Surgeon General, U.S. Army, in Military Hospitals, Official Correspondence, vol. I of six volumes (Military Hospitals: Official Correspondence), box 1, no. 3, Daughters of Charity Archives (DCA), St. Joseph's Provincial House, Emmitsburg, MD.

11 Some accounts note that there were about 189 Daughters of Charity; see, for example, Benjamin J. Blied, "Catholic Aspects of the Spanish American " Social Justice Review 39 (1947): 23 - 25. But Sr. Betty Ann McNeil, director of the archives at the Provincial Motherhouse in Emmitsburg, MD, indicated that there were 201 Daughters of Charity in the Spanish-American War from April 1898 through February 1899 (personal correspondence, Feb. 6, 2001).

12 "Standard for Army Nurses," p. 171.

13 "On Transports and in Camp: Experiences of a Band of Sisters of Charity," Sept. 24, 1898, unidentified newspaper clipping, vol. II (Service of the Sisters in Hospitals in the Spanish-American War), box 1, no. 36, DCA.

14 Locations are listed in vols. I - IV, Military Hospitals: Official Correspondence, DCA.

15 "Telegram to Mother Marianna," July 15, 1898, vol. I, Military Hospitals: Official Correspondence, box 1, no. 4, DCA.

16 The names of the sisters were: Magdalen Kelleher, Cecelia Beck, Chrysostom Moynahan, Maria Conway, and Victorine Salazar. This is listed in a handwritten note at the bottom of the telegram noted in the preceding citation.

17 "Letter of Sr. Salazar to the Sister Assistant," Aug. 29, 1898, vol. II, Military Hospitals: Official Correspondence, box 1, no. 20, DCA.

18 Ibid. Three of the Spanish POWs died while hospitalized. They are buried in the hospital cemetery, and each Memorial Day their graves are marked with Spanish flags. Capt. T. H. Conaway, Jr., notes that this was a practice he started when he was stationed at the naval hospital as a junior officer. Quoted in his paper, "Spanish-American War," a copy of which resides in box 5, DCA.

19 "Letter of Dr. Cleborne, Medical Director, U.S. Navy, Norfolk, Virginia," Sept. 7, 1898, box 4, no. 59a & b, DCA.

20 "Letter from the Surgeon General of the Navy," Sept. 12, 1898, vol. II, Military Hospitals: Official Correspondence, no. 25, DCA.

21 Names of sisters serving at Montauk can be found in Historical Files, Entry 103, box 3, RG 112, NAB.

22 Ibid.

23 "Conduct of the War with Spain," vol. 8, pp. 217 - 218.

24 "Letter to Sister Josephine," Aug. 25, 1898, box 1, vol. II, no. 49, DCA. Also see Philip A. Kalisch, "Heroines of '98: Female Army Nurses in the Spanish-American War," Nursing Research 24 (1975): 411 - 429. He details the nurses' devotion to duty, contributions, and successes as well as their trials, tribulations, and sufferings.

25 "Letter from Sr. Adelaide," Aug. 31, 1898, vol. II, Military Hospitals: Official Correspondence, box 1, no. 50, DCA.

26 "Health Coming, Men of the 9th Improve with a Day of Rest," unidentified newspaper article, ibid., no. 65.

27 "Letter from Ellen Loraine Dorsey," Sept. 4, 1898, ibid., no. 69. Dorsey was responsible for recruiting the Catholic nursing sisters for wartime service.

28 "Letter to the Mother Superior," Sept. 19, 1898, ibid., no. 74.

29 See Personal Data (PD) cards of Spanish-American War Contract Nurses, 1898 - 1917, Entry 149, box 6, RG 112, NAB. The card for Agnes Sweeney notes she was age thirty-six when she volunteered. Attached to the card is a newspaper account that notes her death.

30 See PD card for Anne Larkin, ibid., box 4. She was age thirty-five when she volunteered, and her date of death is listed as November 4, 1898.

31 See PD card for Caroline Wolf, ibid., box 6. It notes that she was twenty-five years old when she was first sent to Chickamauga Park and then on to the Third Division Hospital, Camp Hamilton, Lexington, Kentucky. Also see "First Nun Victim of Camp Fever: Sister Caroline Contracted Typhoid while Nursing Soldiers at Chickamauga and Knoxville," unidentified newspaper clipping, vol. III (Hospital Service in the Spanish-American War contd.), no. 28, DCA. According to the rules of the order, she could not be professed until she had been a member for five years; when it became almost certain she would die, she was allowed to make her final vows.

32 The death of Burke is noted in "D.A.R. Nurses Who died in Army Service," Historical Files, Entry 103, RG 112, NAB. Sixteen names are listed here for women contract nurses and nuns. Her father wrote a letter to Mother Mariana saying that her death "was a most severe blow to us. So great, in fact, was the shock that it took us some time to fully realize the real purport of the news." (She was only twenty-three years of age.) See "Letter of Miguel F. Burke," Jan. 14, 1899, vol. V (Letters Received), no. 35, DCA.

33 "Sisters in Army Hospitals: Work of Mercy Which they Performed at Camp Wikoff," unidentifed newspaper clipping, vol. II, box 1, no. 84, DCA.

34 The names of the twelve sisters are listed in a brief summary, "Santiago," vol. II, box 1, no. 26, DCA. Five sailed from New York on the Yale, and seven boarded the Yucatan.

35 "Sr. Mary Carroll's Letter to the Mother Superior," Aug. 26, 1898, vol. II, box 1, no. 32, DCA.

36 "Letter of Sister Julia Kelly," Aug. 27, 1898, vol. III, box 2, no. 4, DCA.

37 "Sternberg Comparison with World War," unsigned memoir in McGee Files, Entry 230, box 1, RG 112, NAB.

38 Telegram, Chief Surgeon Hartsuff to the Surgeon-General, United States Army, Apr. 25, 1898, in "Conduct of the War with Spain," vol. 8, p. 185.

39 Maud Cromelien, "Red Cross Work at Chickamauga Park," TNHR 23 (September 1899): 128 - 129.

40 "Scenes in Camp Thomas, Chickamauga Park," letter dated Sept. 2, 1898, vol. III, no. 7, DCA.

41 "Letter of Sr. Mary Stella Boyle," Sept. 3, 1898, vol. III, box 2, no. 10, DCA.

42 "Letter of Sister Blanche," n.d., vol. III, box 2, no. 11, DCA.

43 "Letter to the Mother Superior," Sept. 23, 1898, vol. III, box 2, no. 23, DCA.

44 "Letter of L. Brechemin, Major & Surg. U.S.A.," Sept. 27, 1898, vol. III, box 2, no. 25, DCA.

45 See "Camp Alger, Virginia," vol. III, box 2, no. 30, DCA. This summary notes that the officer was hostile to anything Catholic. "He abruptly informed the Sisters that they were not wanted . . . a reluctant consent was given that ten might remain."

46 For an account of their work during the Civil War, see Jolly, Nuns of the Battlefield.

47 "Letter to the Reverend Mother Agatha from Camp Hamilton," Oct. 12, 1898, Sisters of St. Joseph Carondelet Archives (SSJC), St. Louis, MO.

48 "Letter from Sr. Liguori McNamara at Camp Hamilton," Oct. 15, 1898, SSJC Archives.

49 Office of the Surgeon General, Personal Data (PD) cards of Spanish-American War Contract Nurses, 1898 - 1917, Entry 149, RG 112, NAB. Cards are arranged alphabetically and contained in six boxes. Every card contains a questionnaire filled in by the applicant that asks for such information as name and address, name of nursing school, hospital experience, age, birthplace, physical characteristics (skin color and health— race is not listed), and marital status. Cards also contain places of service and grades for performance in terms of health and ability. In postwar years other comments were appended that gave information regarding medals awarded, burial, etc.

See Lists of Sisters in Historical Files, Entry 103, box 3, RG 112, NAB. The sisters came from four provinces: St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, and St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Nuns from St. Louis (St. Joseph Convent) included: Sr. M. Rudolph Meyers, Sr. M. Bonaventure Nealon, and Sr. M. Raymond Ward. From Kansas City (St. Joseph Hospital): Sr. M. Irmina Dougherty, Sr. M. Delphine Dillon, and Sr. M. Liguori McNamara. From St. Paul, Minnesota (St. Joseph's Hospital): Sr. M. Blandina Geary, Sr. M. Florentia Downs, and Sr. M. Julitta Carroll. From Minneapolis, Minnesota (St. Mary's Hospital): Sr. M. Thecla Reid, Sr. M. Aloise O'Dowd.

50 PD card of McNamara, Entry 149, box 4, RG 112, NAB.

51 From a summary of the sisters' service in "The Spanish-American War," SSJC Archives.

52 "Letter from Sr. Liguori McNamara at Camp Hamilton," Oct. 18, 1898, SSJC Archives.

53 Ibid.

54 "Letter from Sr. Liguori at Camp Hamilton," Oct. 22, 1898, SSJC Archives.

55 "Letter from Sr. Liguori at Camp Gilman, Americus," Dec. 21, 1898, SSJC Archives,

56 "Letter from Sr. Liguori at Matanzas, Cuba," Feb. 25, 1898, SSJC Archives. But Civil War nuns had their problem with fleas too as reported by Sr. Camilla O'Keefe, Daughter of Charity, when nursing at Gettysburg: "The sisters also brought plenty of the vermin along in their clothes. I shudder to think of this part of the sister's sufferings while they were serving in the military hospitals, especially in the field tents in Gettysburg;" in Sister O'Keefe's narrative, unpublished, DCA.

57 "Letter from Sr. Liguori at Matanzas, Cuba," Mar. 9, 1899, SSJC Archives.

58 "Letter from Sr. Liguori," Apr. 1, 1899, SSJC Archives.

59 See "Summary of Sisters' Service in The Spanish-American War," SSJC Archives. Christopher J. Kauffman, A Religious History of Catholic Health Care in the United States (1995), p. 165, noted that their service in the war had "so depleted the nursing staff at St. Joseph's Hospital in Kansas City that the personnel crisis led to the foundation of the hospital's nursing school" in 1901.

60 The service of the Sisters of Mercy is discussed by Sr. M. Lucille McGee Middleton, RSM, in "Mercy on the Battlefields," typescript copy dated 1980, Mercy Archives, Chicago, IL. Also see, Suzy Farren, A Call to Care: The Women Who Built Catholic Healthcare in America (out of print). She provided excerpts from Sr. Nolasco's diary.

61 See Historical Files of the Army Nurse Corps 1898 - 1947, Entry 103, box 3, RG 112, NAB. Fourteen Sisters of Mercy were listed, but Sr. Flanagan's name was underlined with a notation "died" beside it. The others (using surnames) were: Srs. Doyle, Fenwick, Klinefelter, Leonard, McColm, Middleton, Mullin, O'Kane, Prendergast, Smith, Stone, Weld, and Davis.

62 "The Work of Catholic Sisters," Catholic Mirror (Baltimore), Feb. 4, 1899. Sr. Mary Elizabeth Flanagan's PD card notes that she went on sick report September 30, 1898, with typhoid fever and died November 1 in the hospital. See her card, Entry 149, box 2, RG 112, NAB. Also see Sr. Mary Eulalia Herron, Sisters of Mercy in the United States, 1843 - 1928 (1929).

63 See Lists of Sisters in Historical Files, Entry 103, box 3, RG 112, NAB.

64 Barbara Mann Wall, "Courage to Care: The Sisters of the Holy Cross in the Spanish-American War," Nursing History Review 3 (1995): 55 - 77.

65 PD cards also indicate surnames: Sarah Baden (Sr. Galasia), Ellen Casey (Sr. Joachim), Caroline Conway (Sr. Genevieve), and Margaret Clifford (Sr. Lydia) who served in a military hospital during the Civil War, box 1; Ellen McSweeny (Sr. Camillas) and Mary McCabe (Sr. Cornelius), box 4; Adelaide Reid (Sr. Valentina), box 5; Mary Stack (Sr. Florentia), Entry 149, box 6, RG 112, NAB. Born in Ireland: Clifford, McCabe, and McSweeney. In some cases "Mary" or "M." was inserted in front of the sister's name. No cards for: Agnes Gahagan (Sr. Cordella), Margaret O'Connor (Sr. Biniti), Ellen Horan (Sr. Philip), and Miss Nowlan (Sr. Emerentiana).

66 Wall, "Courage to Care," p. 69.

67 The Cuban Sisters are listed as: Srs. Angela (Diaz), Simona (Galarza), Josefa (Gil), Mary Josefa (Guarnero), Clara (Larinago), Filomena (Morros), Margarita (O'Keefe), Juliana (Olleta), Angela (Quesada), Victoria (Saez), Isidora (Frigo), and Mercedes (Civit). In Historical Files, Entry 103, box 3, RG 112, NAB.

68 PD Cards: Sr. Galarza, box 2; Sr. Gil, box 2; Sr. Civit, box 1, Entry 149, RG 112, NAB.

69 John W. Ross, M.D., "Lessons Drawn from Practical Professional Experience with Trained Women Nurses in Military Service," Journal of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States (November 1902): 274.

70 Ibid., p. 275.

71 An interesting fact on Sr. Civit's PD card was that she stated she was six feet in height, which was tall for a woman of that period. See her PD card, box 1, Entry 149, RG 112, NAB. Clara Louise Maass, a former SAW contract nurse also worked here and volunteered to be bitten by an infected mosquito, from which she died of yellow fever. See J. T. Cunningham, Clara Maass: A Nurse, a Hospital, a Spirit (1976). Also see Maass' PD card, box 4, which notes she died August 24, 1901. She was the only American woman and the only nurse to have participated in such experiments.

72 Turner Memoir, McGee Files, Entry 230, box 1, RG 112, NAB.

73 Quote of Eleanor Krohn Herrmann, who details yellow fever nursing at Las Animas. In "Clara Louise Maass: Heroine or Martyr of Public Health?" Public Health Nursing 2 (1985): 53 - 54.

74 List of Indian sisters in the Historical Files, Entry 103, box 3, RG 112, NAB.

75 See PD Cards for: Ellen Clarke (Rev. Sister J. Gertrude), box 1; Susan Bordeaux (Rev. Mother M. Anthony), box 1; Josephine Two Bears (Rev. Sister J. Joseph), box 6, Entry 149, RG 112, NAB.

76 The PD card for Rev. Mother M. Anthony indicates that she was born on September 18, 1867, in Beaver Creek, NE; Entry 149, box 1, RG 112, NAB. Brenda Finnicum notes that she "has been reported to be the granddaughter of Chief Spotted Tail and the grandniece of Chief Red Cloud." See Finnicum, "The First Indian Army Nurses," Indian Country Today, Jan. 3, 2001.

77 The Registry of the Women in Military Service for America (WIMSA) reported that the sister's grandson, Harry Dubray, listed her name and provided information on December 12, 1968. Personal communication with Donna Clark, registrar at WIMSA.

78 Finnicum, "The First Indian Army Nurses."

79 Mary Elizabeth Massey, Women in the Civil War (1994; orig. publ. as Bonnet Brigades [1966]).

80 "Conduct of the War with Spain," vol. 7, p. 3171.

81 Ibid. A similar situation existed in the Civil War when Dorothea L. Dix was disappointed to see surgeons dismissing her government nurses and hiring nuns in their places. The sisters were highly commended by the surgeons who worked with them, "chiefly because they had been trained to obedience. Soldier patients liked them, and scornful but envious Protestant nurses had to concede them the virtues of 'order and discipline,' though sometimes questioning their 'neatness' and intelligence." Quoted in Adams, Doctors in Blue: The Medical History of the Union Army in the Civil War (1952), p. 183.

82 "Nursing the Sick," undated article from an unidentified newspaper, vol. II, no. 36, DCA.


Mercedes Graf is a professor of psychology at Governors State University in Illinois. She is the author of several works about women and medicine, including Quarantine, a book about Typhoid Mary; A Woman of Honor: Dr. Mary E. Walker and the Civil War; "Women Nurses in the Spanish-American War," Minerva (Spring 2001), and "Women Physicians in the Spanish-American War," Army History (Fall 2002).


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