Women during the Civil War: An Encyclopedia

By Judith E. Harper | Go to book overview

Selected Readings
Degler, Carl N. At Odds: Women and the Family in America from the Revolution to the Present. New York: Oxford University Press. 1980.
Lystra, Karen. Searching the Heart: Women, Men, and Romantic Love in Nineteenth-Century America. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.
Rothman, Ellen K. Hands and Hearts: A History of Courtship in America. New York: Basic Books. 1984.

Cumming, Kate (1828 or 1835-1909)

Gray-haired men—men in the pride of manhood—beardless boys…mutilated in every imaginable way, lying on the floor…so close together that it was almost impossible to walk without stepping on them…. O, if the authors of this cruel and unnatural war could but see what I saw there, they would try and put a stop to it!

—Kate Cumming (Cumming 1998, 14)

Historians consider Kate Cumming’s Civil War diary to be one of the best and most thorough personal accounts of work within the Confederate hospital service. Cumming, a young, middle-class white woman from Mobile, Alabama, began her diary in April 1862, when she first volunteered to nurse the wounded and sick soldiers of the Confederate army of Tennessee. She completed it more than three years later in May 1865, weeks after the Confederate surrender. Her journal contains a wealth of detail concerning the day-to-day operation of Confederate military hospitals. As a hospital matron from the fall of 1862, Cumming directed all hospital domestic affairs and closely attended to the physical and emotional needs of individual soldiers. Unlike many Northern and Southern women NURSES, she declared that her relationships with the male hospital staff were positive. Although she encountered surgeons who believed women had no place in the military hospital, she worked with many who valued the hard work she and her female colleagues performed.

The precise year of Kate Cumming’s birth in Edinburgh, Scotland, is not known. When she was a young child, her parents emigrated with their four children to Montreal, Canada, before making their permanent home in Mobile, Alabama. Cumming was raised in a prosperous, middle-class environment, though not much is known of the details of her schooling and upbringing.

In the early spring of 1862, Cumming learned that a local minister was urging women to leave their homes to nurse wounded Confederate soldiers. When she broached the subject with her family, her father and brothers-in-law concurred that nursing was not a respectable undertaking for a woman and she must remain at home. Cumming, inspired by Florence

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Women during the Civil War: An Encyclopedia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • List of Entries xvii
  • A 1
  • B 29
  • Selected Readings 47
  • C 55
  • Selected Readings 70
  • Selected Readings 83
  • Selected Readings 91
  • D 97
  • Selected Readings 116
  • Selected Readings 121
  • E 125
  • F 143
  • Selected Readings 157
  • G 161
  • Selected Readings 164
  • Selected Readings 174
  • H 183
  • Selected Reading 196
  • I 205
  • J 223
  • Selected Readings 225
  • K 227
  • L 235
  • Selected Readings 247
  • Selected Readings 255
  • M 257
  • N 279
  • P 293
  • Selected Reading 300
  • R 311
  • S 325
  • T 367
  • U 385
  • V 393
  • W 401
  • Selected Readings 403
  • Selected Readings 416
  • Z 425
  • Glossary 429
  • Bibliography 433
  • Index 449
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