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Women In The Civil War

The Civil War was a seemingly inevitable war that was based largely on the economics of the nation at present. During this time a great deal of suffering was taking place on the battlefields because of the development of new guns and more precise bullets. The women who participated in the Civil War on both sides served in roles as nurses helping to tend to the wounded.

Women in the Civil War did a great deal of good in terms of the health and hygiene of the men who were injured. Many homes and other large buildings were converted into makeshift hospitals. The new bullets were designed with cylindrical grooves outfitting the entire exterior of the bullet to provide faster and more accurate aim. The speed of the bullet was also increased. Upon impact the bullet would break through the bone and cause fragmentation to spread quite far. With this severe of damage it was next to impossible to remove all of the bits of bullet and bone which had fragmented and spread throughout the wound. In most cases amputation was necessary. Doctors on the battlefields wrote about conducting several dozen amputations in one day and that they would simply work behind a sheet and saw off the limb in a matter of seconds.

But after amputation the men were kept in their same torn and bloodied clothes and they were simply moved over to make room for the next amputation. The women who participated in the field noted these conditions and listened to the men’s wants and needs. Discovering that most of them really wanted clean clothes as well as a comfortable place to sleep and some food these changes were implemented. Women in the field began to provide clean clothes to sick soldiers. They set up comfortable beds where they could relax. They gave them food and helped to keep their bandages cleaned.

It was Clara Barton who led these changes and started to establish first aid kits. As she delivered supplies to the men and helped to ensure that living and hospital conditions were more sanitary she began to cut down on disease and death among the hospital units. She listened to the needs of the men and would pray with them or hear their stories noting in her journals that these men were really just boys who needed care and compassion. Deemed the Angel of the Battlefield she would continually travel ahead of military medical units to reach battlefields in time to provide supplies. Her efforts eventually founded the American Red Cross as we know it.

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