Monday, September 5, 2011

Anna Pittenger McMeens: Civil War Nurse

Anna McMeens (with purse) and Cooke Family Members
Anna Pittenger McMeens may have been one of the first nurses to serve in a military hospital during the Civil War. When her husband, Dr. Robert R. McMeens enlisted as the surgeon of the Third Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Anna assisted her husband at the military hospital at Camp Dennison.

She traveled with him to Nashville, Tennessee, where he served as Acting Medical Director of the Tenth Division. He oversaw the Union’s 800-bed military hospital. Anna returned to Sandusky when her husband left Nashville with his regiment. She immediately began working with the Sanitary Commission to provide medical supplies for soldiers in the field.

Cooke Castle on Lake Erie's Gibraltar Island, 1901
She never remarried after the death of her husband in 1862. She traveled to Washington, D. C., where she worked in military hospitals for more than a year. Following the war, Anna McMeens managed the summer home of Jay Cooke, financier of the Civil War. Cooke Castle is located on Lake Erie’s Gibraltar Island.

A sketch of Anna McMeens in Woman's Work in the Civil War (published 1867) highlights her contributions during the conflict. It states that after the Civil War, and while at Gibraltar Island, she took part in missionary work among the sailors of Lake Erie.

If anyone can identify the organization or the Lake Erie's sailors missionary work in which Anna McMeens participated as early as 1867, I would appreciate hearing from you.

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