Book Review Of The Diary And Letters Of Hannah Ropes

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The role nurses played during the Civil War was truly an extensive one, as the war carried the most casualties in American history and so many more injuries. Despite their invaluable work, though, their experiences have not been related in depth. Civil War Nurse: The Diary and Letters of Hannah Ropes by Joseph Brumgardt is a much-desired addition to the primary collection depicting the story of the United States medical corps during the Civil War. The book’s thesis claims that these men and women who served in the medical end of the conflict deserve attention as full participants in the war rather than as mere helpers of the main actors, more interesting than substantial. As evidence of this, the book focuses on the story of Hannah Ropes, who …show more content…

Not only do her diary and correspondence (which is mainly with her daughter Alice) provide details of the daily work, but they also give insight on other matters as well, such as the variety of wounds soldiers faced during the war and hospital policies which ran them. The story runs chronologically and gradually gives us a picture of the environment she deals with and what she works with on a daily basis, while providing the unusual details of what goes into the seemingly mundane hospital paperwork. Ropes described her ongoing battles with the chief surgeon and the surgeon general in improving hospital conditions for "her boys." She was greatly concerned about the patients' welfare and did everything in her power to see that they were well-fed and cared for and protected from the thievery and starvation that was rampant among the hospital staff. Ropes had some political influence, which aided her in fighting government bureaucracy and political snafus in her line of work at the hospitals. She was well acquainted with Senator Charles Sumner and Edwin M. Stanton, who she admired and believed to be decent people who cared about the soldiers' …show more content…

He also includes commentary throughout the text itself, where he discusses the progress of the war, personalities involved in the conflict, and events in Ropes's life not recounted in her writings. There is also a rather handy glossary of names referred to throughout the work. In giving insight to both Ropes's life and her times, Brumgardt has consulted other sources, including her two published works, Union Military Service Records, Muster Rolls, as well as Louisa May Alcott's Hospital Sketches (Alcott actually served under Ropes for a short time at a Union hospital and was mentored by her). Though this book was published first in 1980 just 20 years before the turn of the century, it seems ahead of its time by its shift in focus, as the 2000’s focused less on the military aspect of the war and more on the “everyday American” aspect, centering on the behind-the-scenes lifestyle of those involved directly and indirectly. It also carries a bit of the 1960’s historiographical style, too, in that it still presents a focus on the politics of the war and the life at

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