Born in 1840 in New Jersey, Cornelia Hancock started off her Civil War nursing career auspiciously when she arrived with other women volunteers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania July 1863. She was the only one of the group not to be accepted to become a volunteer nurse. Nonetheless, she found her way to Gettysburg and began what became a well known and respected service as a nurse in the field.
After the war she opened a school for African-Americans in South Carolina. In Philadelphia she founded several charity organizations and remained active in social work until her death in 1926. Her popular collection of wartime letters is still in print.
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