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‘Nuns of the Battlefield’

First published in 1927, “Nuns of the Battlefield” was written by Ellen Ryan Jolly. In this book, the author gives a description of the women religious congregations that provided medical aid during the Civil War. Many of these religious congregations actually provided nursing skills on the battlefield while others, like the Sisters of Providence, provided medical assistance in military hospitals and prisons.

Below are a couple of entries in the chapter about the Sisters of Providence:

First entry

“Of course, even in the steady mill of woe that flooded over the Sisters there were contrasting notes of humor.

“On one occasion an Indiana soldier was hailed before court-martial for pilfering a Confederate goose. His plea, made in hurt, pained tones was, to say the least, the quintessence of patriotism. ‘Sir,’ quoth he to the board, ‘this bird was hissing the American flag, so I arrested it for treason.’” (pages 312-313)

Second entry

“There is something chivalrous in the following communication to the Indianapolis Sentinel, which appeared on the editorial page in the issue of February 25, 1862:

“‘Editor Sentinel: I consider it a fact worthy of notice that the Sisters of Providence, who have charge of the Military Hospital, are not furnished with a conveyance to and from the city, but are obliged to wade through mud and mire on foot. A carriage is furnished them on Sundays, it is true, but the religious duties of the Sisters make it necessary that they should come in town every day, and it is a crying shame that they should be forced to walk. I can safely say that on the greater part of the way to the hospital the mud is very deep. A small, one-horse spring wagon would be of great use, and where so much money is spent, why not a little be invested to this good purpose. The Sisters are uncomplaining, and for that reason their comfort should be the more carefully looked after. I would be glad if you would call attention to the matter through the columns of the Sentinel. Respectfully, L.D.’

“The people of Indianapolis, true to tradition, promptly and generously answered that appeal.” (pages 313-314)

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Sisters of Providence

The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, are a congregation of Roman Catholic women religious (sisters) who minister throughout the United States and Taiwan. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence in 1840. The congregation has a mission of being God's Providence in the world by committing to performing works of love, mercy and justice in service among God's people.

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