“Military women, it has been said, have always been volunteers. In this book, Mercedes Graf shows us that medical women of past eras had to do more than volunteer; they had to actively fight to overcome the entrenched institutional reluctance of military and medical male hierarchies in order to serve. Graf demonstrates the selfless subservience of the women physicians of the Civil and Spanish American Wars, who were forced to work as nurses, and shows us the difficult conditions these women and the nurses themselves, classified as civilians working under contract, endured. Army and Navy nurses served without commissions or rank until after World War I, and women physicians who served during World War I were relegated to civilian contract status. Military medical women, says Graf, frequently served their country to their own detriment, but did it proudly, solely for the sake of their nation.”
Judy Bellafaire, Ph.D., Chief Historian
Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation, Inc.
and author of A Defense Weapon Known to Be of Value:
Servicewomen during the Korean War Era
Women have been practicing the healing arts for centuries. And at the same time, they have wanted to play a vital role in wartime—not only on the home front but also on the battlefield with all its risks and horrors. When war beckoned, they longed to become volunteers, not just to utilize their skills, but because they could go forward to the heart of the action, something that was denied them in peacetime. At war's end they returned home and resumed their lives as ordinary women—never sharing their tales of the extraordinary risks they had taken for what they believed in.
In On the Field of Mercy, Mercedes Graf unearths the remarkable stories of the hidden women who worked as pioneer doctors on the Civil War battlefields, in typhoid-ridden camps in the Spanish-American War, and on the home front and overseas in World War I. She tells of the forgotten nurses and nuns who gave comfort to the sick and dying in the Spanish-American War, and of a woman sculptor who helped restore the confidence of mutilated soldiers in World War I. In doing so, she paints captivating portraits of the heroic women who were willing to confront barriers at times when the military and the public were resistant to the idea of women on the battlefield.
Shipping Weight: 2lbs
Mercedes Graf is a retired professor of psychology from an Illinois state university. She has written numerous articles on women doctors and nurses. She is the author of Quarantine: The Story of Typhoid Mary; A Woman of Honor: The Civil War Years of Dr. Mary E. Walker; and the introduction to Walker's book, Hit. Most recently, she coauthored Women Doctors in War.