Nursing I & o Sheet

Part I: "The Lady Nurse of Ward E" watches the Civil War come to Washington, D.C.
January 21, 2017 – 10:26 am

Medication sheet for ob Medication sheet for ob cliniucal

Akin left home to work at Washington's Armory Square Hospital at age 35 and began work in April 1863. By July 1864, she was preparing to end her nursing service and return home to Quaker Hill, New York. We pick up her story on the morning of July 9, when she first heard word of the Confederate advance on Washington:

July 9, 1864. Spent morning in ward framing and changing some of the pictures, etc. Received exciting news of another raid into Maryland. An order came to have every man able to carry a musket ready to leave tomorrow. […] Sang in Miss Merrill's ward my new song, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home, " and tried duets with her; then went to my ward and repeated it. The general ward master came in and brought a tenor, and we had quite a musicale.

In order to strengthen the defenses of the city, all able-bodied men were called to duty, including many of the hospitals assistants and clerks—even any patients well enough to serve. Perhaps the excitement of the call to arms inspired Akin to try out her "new song" during the evening entertainment. "When Johnny Comes Marching Home, " one of the most enduring Civil War tunes, was first published in 1863, and became popular in both the North and South.

Cover of sheet music for "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." Words and music by "Louis Lambert" (Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore), Boston: Henry Tolman & Co., 1863.

July 11, 1864. Began my packing. Another order for men from the hospital. Found only the ward master, with ward attendants—two for the dining room and bathroom. Johnny Hegeman, my orderly, volunteered, as the orderlies were to be exempt for the present.

Armory Square Hospital had ten wards and usually one female nurse assigned to each. Akin was assigned to "Ward E." Convalescing and disabled soldiers were put to work as orderlies and ward attendants. Johnny Hegeman was serving as Akin's primary assistant—her orderly—when the call to arms came. He had joined the military service underage, but had come down with fever and landed at the hospital before his regiment reached the front. New recruits were particularly susceptible to infectious diseases including typhoid, measles, and smallpox. One can imagine that Johnny Hegeman was excited to finally have the chance to see "action."

Source: americanhistory.si.edu
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