Civil War Hospital Sketches by Louisa May Alcott

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See Reader Rating


Before her wider fame as the author of Little Women, Louisa May Alcott achieved recognition for her accounts of her work as a volunteer nurse in an army hospital. Written during the winter of 1862-63, her lively dispatches appeared in the newspaper Commonwealth, where they were eagerly read by soldiers' friends and families. Then, as now, these chronicles revealed the desperate realities of battlefield medicine as well as the tentative first steps of women in military service.
Writing under a pseudonym, Alcott recounted the vicissitudes of her two-day journey from her home in Concord, Massachusetts, to Washington, D.C. A fiery baptism in the practice of nursing awaited her at Washington Hospital, were she arrived immediately after the slaughter of the Army of the Potomac at the battle of Fredericksburg. Alcott's rapidly paced prose graphically depicts the facts of hospital life, deftly balancing pathos with gentle humor. A vivid and truthful portrait of an often overlooked aspect of the Civil War, this book remains among the most illuminating reports of the era's medical practices as well as a moving testimonial to the war's human cost.

About Louisa May Alcott

See more books from this Author
Louisa May Alcott was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, in 1832. Two years later, she moved with her family to Boston and in 1840 to Concord, which was to remain her family home for the rest of her life. Her father, Bronson Alcott, was a transcendentalist and friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Alcott early realized that her father could not be counted on as sole support of his family, and so she sacrificed much of her own pleasure to earn money by sewing, teaching, and churning out potboilers. Her reputation was established with Hospital Sketches (1863), which was an account of her work as a volunteer nurse in Washington, D.C. Alcott's first works were written for children, including her best-known Little Women (1868--69) and Little Men: Life at Plumfield with Jo's Boys (1871). Moods (1864), a "passionate conflict," was written for adults. Alcott's writing eventually became the family's main source of income. Throughout her life, Alcott continued to produce highly popular and idealistic literature for children. An Old-Fashioned Girl (1870), Eight Cousins (1875), Rose in Bloom (1876), Under the Lilacs (1878), and Jack and Jill (1881) enjoyed wide popularity. At the same time, her adult fiction, such as the autobiographical novel Work: A Story of Experience (1873) and A Modern Mephistopheles (1877), a story based on the Faust legend, shows her deeper concern with such social issues as education, prison reform, and women's suffrage. She realistically depicts the problems of adolescents and working women, the difficulties of relationships between men and women, and the values of the single woman's life.
Published March 8, 2012 by Dover Publications. 80 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, War, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Reader Rating for Civil War Hospital Sketches

An aggregated and normalized score based on 16 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review