Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mary Galloway

Battle of the Wilderness
The records of Catholic orders include reports of female soldiers discovered in hospitals. One chronicler of Catholic orders reports that Catholic sisters were especially given two unusual duties: acting as peacemakers between quarreling soldiers and attending to female soldiers who often were first discovered when wounded or sick. In hospitals where there were sisters, such cases were assigned to them and several different communities of sisters noted their care of such women.

Margaret Hamilton, a Catholic sister from New York, reported that while serving at the U.S. Military Hospital in Philadelphia:

"We received a large number of wounded after the battle of the Wilderness (May 5-7, 1864) and among them was a young woman not more than 20 years of age. She ranked as lieutenant and was wounded in the shoulder. Her sex was not discovered until she came to our hospital. It appears that she had followed her lover to the battle; and the boys who were brought in with her said that no one in the company showed more bravery than she. She was discharged very soon after entering the ward."

Other nurses also discovered female soldiers among their patiends. Clara Barton, whose fame spread across the country and around the world, was caring for wounded soldiers during the battle of Antietam in 1862. While giving one soldier a drink of water, a bullet tore through her sleeve and killed him. Later Barton observed that another soldier's face appeared to be "too safe," and she became suspicious when the soldier was hesitant to have his chest wound treated.

The soldier turned out to be Mary Galloway who had enlisted to be with her husband. Barton shepherded and shielded the girl and located her lover in a Washington Hospital. She persuaded the girl to reveal her true identity and go home after recuperation. Later Barton reported that the couple had named a daughter after her.

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