Date: August 24, 2013

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‘I work in the wards all day and write all night.’

There were no night nurses, but Florence Nightingale, lamp in hand, each night traversed alone the four miles of beds it was generally for into the night before she again reached her quarter nor to rest but to write reports, and also letters for the soldiers and relatives of dead soldiers.


A letter written to Dr. Bomman November 15th , 1854, Florence Nightingale gives definite statistics:

“——on Thursday last (i.e. Nov.8) we had 1715 sick and wounded in the hospital (among whom, 120 cholera patients) and 650 severely wounded in —– the General Hospital—– when a message came to me to prepare for 500 wounded .”

She held the Army in high esteem She wrote before I came here – I have never seen so teachable and helpful a class as the Army generally.

    • Give them opportunity promptly and securely to send money home and they will use it.
    • Give then a school and a lecture and they will come to it.
    • Give them a book and a game and a magic Lanthorn and they will lay off drinking.
    • Give them suffering and they will bear it.
    • Give them work and they will do it.

    I had rather have to do with the Army generally than with any other class I have ever attempted to serve.

    “No one can feel for the Army as I do” [1857]

    Florence Nightingale, letter to Thomas Longmore on the Geneva Convention (23rd July, 1864)

    “I need hardly say that I think its views most absurd – just such as would originate in a little state like Geneva, which never can see war. They tend to remove responsibility from Governments. They are practically impracticable. And voluntary effort is desirable, just in so far as it can be incorporated into the military system. If the present Regulations are not sufficient to provide for the wounded they should be made so. But it would be an error to revert to a voluntary system, or to weaken the military character of the present system by introducing voluntary effort, unless such efforts were to become military in its organization.”

    She was not exaggerating when she wrote to the Herberts on July 11, 1855
    “Now, I will say what I would not except under this pressure, and what I would not, if you were in office have said- what I will never say to anyone else. We pulled this hospital through for 4 months and without us, it would have come to a stand still”.

    Florence Nightingales, letter published in the English woman’s Review (January, 1869)

    “I have no peculiar gifts. And I can honestly assure any young lady, if she will but try to walk, she will soon be able to run the “appointed course”. But then she must first learn to walk, and so when she runs she must run with patience. (Most people don’t even try to walk.) But I would also say to all young ladies who are called to any particular vocation, qualify yourself for it as a man does for his work. Don’t think you can undertake it otherwise”.

    The appalling conditions at Scutari
    April 1855 letter to Benjamin Hawes

    “Forty women, living closely packed in narrow quarters under new discipline and in a barrack – women too whose tempers & habits are unknown present great obstacles to management.”

    Unshrinking Heroism
    Nov. 14 wrote to Dr. Bowman

    “In the midst of this appalling horror (we are steeped up to our necks in blood)- there is good….. As I went my night rounds among the newly wounded that first night, there was not one murmur, not are groan, the Strictist discipline, the most absolute silence and quiet prevailed, only the step of the sentry, and I heard one man say, I was dreaming of my friends at home and another said and I was thinking of them.

    These poor fellows bear pain and mutilation with unshrinking heroism, and die or are cut up without a complaint. Not so the officers, but we have nothing to do with the officers.”

    Florence Nightingale spent as many hours a day as she could on individual patient care. On the days when hundreds of new patient’s were disembarked from the transport ships, she was the nurse who worked the longest hours and was one of the most effective.

    “Her nerve in wonderful, I have been with her at very severe operations; she was more than equal to the trial. She has an utter disregard of contagion; I have known her spend hours over men dying of cholera or fever. The more awful in every sense any particular case, especially if it was that of a dying man, her slight form would be seen bending over him, administering to his ease in every way in her power, and seldom quitting his side till death released him.” Osborne

    Traveling gentlemen like –
    Rev. the Hon Sidney Godolphin Osborne a good friend of Sidney Herbert, was a doctor, an Anglican minister, and a writer for the Times.

    As a Chaplin, Osborne had full access to the wards at Scutari.

    December 31st 1852. She wrote in her diary:
    “I am so glad this year is over, nevertheless it has not been wasted I trust —– I have re-modelled my whole religious belief —– All my admirers are married——and I stand with all the world before me—– It has been a baptism of fire this year.”

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