Sunday, May 29, 2011

150 Years Ago: Dorothea Dix

U.S. Library of Congress DIX, DOROTHEA LYNDE. ...Image via Wikipedia

On Wednesday, May 29, 1861, Dorothea Dix met with Secretary of War Simon Cameron, who accepted her help in setting up hospitals for the Union army.

Dix would soon be named superintendent of women nurses, the first woman to serve in a federal-level executive position.  She looked for nurses who were not too young and "plain to almost homeliness in dress, and by no means liberally endowed with personal attractions."  She came under heavy criticism for her brusqueness and for her insistence on treating Union and Confederate wounded alike on the battlefield.

Also on this date, the Battle of Aquia Creek began on the Potomac River.  This was an inconclusive little affair, an exchange of gunfire between Union gunboats and Confederate shore batteries that lasted until June 1.   The gunboats were unable to dislodge the batteries or inflict any serious casualties.

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