Life of a Civil War Nurse

Sarah Gado

Sarah Gado April 1861

Your message...

Day 1:

I am Sarah Gado, a Union Civil War nurse. I have one daughter named Lilly who is a six year old, and I miss her very much. My home base is California, I applied for becoming a nurse after my brother Thomas died in the battle of Bull Run, due to lack of care. I left my family to show Lilly that leaving to help in the war was the right thing to do. Just before I left we had gotten a dog for Lilly to have someone to play with, his name is Willy. As for my brothers and sisters are all in the war as well, however they are all on the Confederate side. They do not believe that slavery is right, but they were living in the South when the war broke out, they are fighting for where they live. I hated leaving my family when I moved to California, but it was the right thing to do. I was able to pick up where I left off with my family. When I grew up in Kentucky, we lived on a large cattle farm, I truly loved that life of waking up early to take care of the cattle and do chores around the house. I left that life because I was 22 and saw that there was a war coming; I was not going to live in Kentucky and support the south. So I fled to California, to start the life over that I had left in Kentucky.

Day 2:

Nurse: How did you get the cut in your leg, someone must have been really fit to be tied to give you a cut that deep

Solider: Some grayback greenhorn bugger skunk cut me with an Arkansas toothpick

Nurse: Man your a hardcase, you got whipped pretty badly

Solider: Well I got shot with a pepperbox, but you look fit as a fiddle

Nurse: Im horse sense, I try to avoid the hard knocks, I'm an assistant for the sawbones on the camp.

Solider: that job must make you snug as a bug, while everyone else is skedaddling along, taking hornets to the head.

Nurse: I don’t know about you but i’m, played out, lets go grab some joy juice and grab a root

Solider: that sounds hunky dorey, as I was coming in here I saw a chef cook and bottle washer that was tight

Nurse: Well now you can come eat with me in top rail #1 instead of eating with the sunday soldiers.

Solider: Lets go possum, my bread basket is rumbling!

A wheel chair that many soldiers were put in when they were injured.
The morning before Gettysburg #canon #civilwar #gettysburg #pretty #sunrise

Day three:


I want you to know that I will be home quickly as I can, this war can not go on forever.  We are getting ready to pack up right now, as the soldiers are packing there things right now to move camp. By the time you get this letter I will be at Vicksburg, where I hope and pray that this is the truing point in this war. The hospital is as good as it can be, you always have access to everything here in the hospital. We have about sixty beds along one wall. We still have to put a lot of men on the floor, depending on how bad there injury is.  Even though I am quit close to the battle field most of the time, I want you to know Lilly that I am safe where I am, so please don't worry. A good friend of mine Clara, has been on the best nurses here in the hospital. I would not have been able to get through anything without her.

The Soldiers have been punished greatly  anywhere from having to be put in a barrel, to having your hands and feet tied up. Without being able to move with hours on end.   

Lilly I will be home very soon I love you,

Your mother Sarah

Day four:

We read pages 1,2,3,4,7,11

Q1: When I enlisted for the army, I was thinking that if I do not help fight this war for my mother and people to have a better life. The army was in need of people, if we lost this war and I did not go, help, and fight I would not be able to live with myself.

Q2:  I am very proud that my family had a farm, with no slaves and we did all of the work ourselves. Also that I was able to make the dissension for himself to go off to the war and fight for what he believed in.  

Q3: I wish that we did not have to give up half of the farm when my dad died. Maybe we would be making more money, and that money we could use in medicine to help our mother get better.

Q4: What will it be like to be in a battle involving tens of thousands of soldiers?

A4: It was to understand that Generals and officers, when they were telling to us about the battle procedure. Because they were talking to so many men, and I was in the back because I was a privet solider. I was uselesslyvery confused and tried to do the best I could with fallowing direction.

Day Five
The Escape to Freedom

Chorus: We’ve been marching marching marching

for ever so long

we never thought it end

until this day came along

its is April 16th, 1865

The day was so long I felt I had to flee

Then in the quiet of the night

the sky suddenly lit up

and it gave me a warning

That this bloody affair would soon be



I never thought Id make but I guess i did

I was freeeee

Yes so freeeee it so good

Because I was freeeee


When I saw home I my I felt something that I haven't felt in such a long time

It was love and freeeeedom, oh it felt good to be freeeee


The battle of Gettysburg was said turning point in this war, although I am not sure I believe that.

Day six


I have never been so bored in my life, while there is no battle going on all of us nurses are busy taking care of the soldiers that are still injured from the previous battle. Although there are not many, when we finish the daily cleaning and organization of the hospital we are aloud to go out into the camp and play "games". Nothing like what we do are home, but we get to put on little shows. Some of the men would get so bored that they would find lice and get a plate to race them to see who picked up the fastest lice. Some times we would be able to get a good few laughs in but it never lasted for long. Everyone was so depressed around the camp, including me sometimes.

Please say hello to Lilly for me.

Much love,


Soldiers playing cards while they are waiting for dinner to be made

Day seven

As being a nurse for the Union side we have had much training and watched a lot of the more experienced nurses on the camp. We did this so that our soldiers could be treated to the best of our ability. Weather it seams right or not we have more men die from disease like diarrhea, then they did from battle wounds and surgery. We have had many men coming in to the camp now that we have run out of room and have to put them on the floor and in the back of the camp depending on what there injure was. When the soldiers came in from the battle filed, most of them were so  in shock and so much pain that they had no idea what was happening and did not know what to do or think. Because the operating rooms were no closed off the surgeons would do the operations or amputations in plain site. While the operations were taking place, I was the one often who had to hold down the solider and tell them to stop jiggling around so the doctor could continue the amputation.

Southern Californa, April 1863

Day eight

As I walked up to our house, I wasn't able to go in the house for about two hours I felt as if I had not earned such a beautiful house, daughter, and wonderful mother to take care of Lilly. The house was much nicer than I had remembered, smelled of fresh lemonade. I arrived home at about six in the morning and walked in the front door. To find my mother standing there with my favorite breakfast on the table, a nice omelet with real coffee waiting for me. The first words my mother said to me were "I saw you coming up the driveway about two hours ago, never heard you come in. I realized that you needed some time to realize what you had just gone through for the past few years." I could not hold anything back anymore, I ran over to give my mother a hug, that feeling of calm and warmth, allowed me to feel that everything was okay. My family was safe. It sounded as if an army was coming down the stairs, but it was just Lilly running as fast as she could. My gosh has she gotten big, I never thought I would be able to let go of her I was so happy and proud to see my little girl. We sat down to eat breakfast, mother and Lilly told me everything thst they wanted to do today. All I could say was I could not wait. Mother told me to go take a shower and get cleaned up. As I was walking up the stairs, I had to turn around and ask mother if she could turn it on for me, as i had been away for so long that I had forgot how to turn the shower on. I as was unpacking my very few items, I took out this journal. I hoped and prayed I would only ever have to take this out to show to my family and friends, never to have to return to the battle field.

Works Cited

ABC Newspaper. EMC, n.d. Web. 3 July 2013. <>.

Battlefield Sunrise. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 May 2014. <>.

Chesi Books. N.p., 2007. Web. 15 May 2014. <>.

Learn NC. Soldiers playing cards, n.d. Web. 13 May 2014. <>.

My Home Medical Supplies. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 May 2014. <>.

“Sarah Low.” Dover Public Library. Northam Colonist Historical Society., n.d. Web. 1 May 2014. <>.

Comment Stream