On a summer morning in 1864 dawn's eye watched battalions of Union soldiers outside Cold Harbor, Virginia doing something curious. They were calmly writing their names on pieces of paper & sewing them into their coats to ensure that family could be notified in case a Confederate Mini-ball found its mark.
After the shooting stopped a blood-stained diary was found on the body of one fallen warrior. "June 3, 1864 Cold Harbor," the journal read. "I was killed."
Imagine that moribund soldier as he used his last life vibrations to scrawl that final entry.
Deaths were higher in the Civil War than in any other conflict in U.S. history. But many more soldiers died of disease than bullets. If it were not for one woman, many more would have never seen home again.
Dorothea Dix, Superintendent of Nurses for the Union Army, is forgotten or unknown by most. Her compassion & competence enabled much healing in primitive Civil War hospitals. Her Radical Loving Leadership shined clear in her commitment to care for Confederate soldiers as well as the Union men she had been hired to serve.
It is so difficult to imagine the horrors of medical care in a time when legs were sawed off like cordwood by surgeons so beleaguered that they would no sooner finish an amputation than they would wipe off their tools on their aprons, turn to a line of waiting wounded & shout, "Next."
Amid the carnage, Dorothea Dix stood resolute. Compassionate care came naturally to a woman already known for her courageous championing of humane treatment for prisoners & the mentally ill.
Dorothea Dix was a true champion of loving care. Life was not wasted on her.