Louisa May Alcott’s Challenges as a Civil War Nurse
“Hospital Sketches” recounts what it was like in the hospital Louisa May Alcott was posted at in Washington during the Civil War. She gives very solid detail about what went on within the hospital and an inside look to what nurses and soldiers went through. Alcott’s account as a civil war nurse left me very surprised and thankful for today’s modern hospitals and women’s rights. She faced many challenges getting to the hospital and during her stay. Among the many challenges Alcott faced were gender related issues when trying to get a rail pass, poor organization of the hospital and care, and getting over the loss of John.
Alcott encounters her first challenge when she tries to get her free rail pass to Washington. She ventures from one person to the next as if on a wild goose chase, looking for the person that could grant her a free rail pass. The men she talked to didn’t pay her any mind and were vague in their responses. Since she was female, no one wanted to help her or pay her any mind since women were inferior at this time. One gentleman finally gave a reply of “I think Mc K. may have left Milk Street, now, and I don’t know where he has gone” after her general inquired for information from him. (p. 10) It wasn’t until she met up with Darby, and he obliged to help her, that she finally talked to Mc. K and got some solid answers. “You will have to get a pass from Dr. H., in Temple Place before I can give you a pass, madam,” answered Mc K. (p. 11) Dr. H. was much more courteous than the other men and she could finally go get her free rail pass to Washington. “I will give you the order, with pleasure, madam.” (p. 12) She received her pass from Mc K after giving him the orders and was finally on her way to Washington. Even though the obstacles she faced getting her ticket were over, there was more to come at the hospital she was on her way to.
Once she reached the hospital she began to settle in...
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