Women at City Point

Though the Union supply operation at City Point was governed by men, women created their own place - as caregivers, hospital managers, relief agents, and laborers - within those boundaries set down by the military and society. Women contributed to the Union cause while enriching their own lives.

In the Hospitals

Photo of U.S. Sanitary Commission nurses and officers
Nurses and officers of the U.S. Sanitary Commission in Fredericksburg, Va.

Library of Congress

Women's greatest contribution to life at City Point was their care of the wounded and sick soldiers. With most of these women having only cared for sick relatives before this, nothing prepared them for the horrors they witnessed in the military hospitals. But like their male counterparts, time lessened the shock and dread experienced when treating men maimed by iron and lead or incapacitated by disease.

Their responsibilities included supervising male nurses assigned to them, identifying dead soldiers, dressing wounds, feeding and washing patients, and arranging transportation home for the seriously wounded. Though few in number, women nurses like Clara Barton, Cornelia Hancock and Sarah Palmer were not forgotten by those they helped or by those for whom they paved the way in the field of medicine.

Agents of Relief

A Step Towards Freedom

After the War