Four volunteer Nuns became the first official female nurses on December 26th 1862, serving on the US navy hospital ship the “Red Rover”.
Civil War wounded both Confederate and Union were treated in buildings converted into hospitals in Mound City. The nurses many of whom were nuns from the Sisters of the Holy Cross included five African American women. The first Union hospital ship was a converted side wheeler the “Red Rover”. It was commissioned on December 26th 1862. The medical service providers onboard included thirty surgeons and male nurses, along with the four nuns. The “Red Rover” treated 2,947 patients during the three years it sailed the Mississippi River during the Civil War.