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Highlights Archives

'Cordelia Harvey: Civil War Angel'

The Soldiers' Orphans' Home near Madison, opened in 1866 by Cordelia Harvey
WHI 51514

The latest entry in the Badger Biographies series from the Wisconsin Historical Society Press, "Cordelia Harvey: Civil War Angel," tells the story of an iconic figure from Wisconsin's Civil War history. As the wife of a promising young governor, Cordelia Harvey seemed destined for great things. Then tragedy struck: her husband Louis Harvey drowned while visiting Wisconsin troops in the South, and Cordelia found herself widowed and alone. Like Louis had, Cordelia cared deeply about the Wisconsin soldiers fighting in the Civil War, and she jumped at a job offer from the new governor: working as the sanitary agent for Wisconsin. In this position, Cordelia could fight for the well-being of the state's men and boys wounded in battle.

A Tireless Advocate for Wisconsin Soldiers

The cover of "Cordelia Harvey: Civil War Agnel"

Young readers will follow Cordelia on her travels up and down the Mississippi to visit Wisconsin soldiers in military hospitals. In her efforts to make sure soldiers were well cared for, Cordelia wrote to the governor about their need for wholesome food, clean supplies and fresh air. Eventually she would travel to Washington to plead with President Lincoln for a Soldiers' Home hospital in Wisconsin. When Cordelia returned home after the war, she continued her humanitarian work by starting an orphanage for the children of fallen Civil War soldiers.

"Cordelia Harvey: Civil War Angel" includes sidebars on medical care, early nursing and military prisons. A timeline, glossary of terms, and suggestions for activities and discussion round out this spirited narrative.

:: Posted February 10, 2011

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