Authors and Nurses

Hanna Anderson and Louisa May Alcott were nurses together during the civil war. Hannah Anderson was born June 13, 1809, in New Gloucester, Maine. Her religious convictions were strong and she opposed slavery. At twenty-five, she married an educator named William Ropes. Unfortunately, her husband abandoned her and their two children. She then moved back and forth between Kansas and Massachusetts.

During this time, she developed her writing skills. She compiled the letters she wrote her mother, while living in Kansas and in 1856 Six Months in Kansas by a Lady was published. In 1889 her novel Cranston House was published. The Civil War interrupted her writing career. When Hanna read Florence Nightingale’s book Notes on Nursing, she felt another calling.  In 1862 she volunteered as a nurse and was soon the head matron of the Union Hotel Hospital.

In December of 1862 Hanna was joined by Louisa May Alcott, another budding author. She was just thirty years old. She arrived the same time as the wounded did from the Battle of Fredericksburg. Georgetown’s Union Hotel Hospital was the setting for Alcott’s Hospital Sketches, published in 1863. The book is a compilation of four letters she sent home while volunteering at Georgetown.

In January 1863, both Louisa and Hanna contracted typhoid pneumonia. Hanna died at the age of 53. Louisa returned home to Massachusetts, where it took her a long time to recuperate.

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