Kate Cumming

Confederate Nurse

Kate Cumming was born in Edinburgh between 1828 and 1835. In the 1840's, her family emigrated to Canada and then Alabama. Her mother and two sisters left for England at the beginning of the war in 1861 but Kate stayed in Alabama as her father and brother enlisted in the Confederate Army. She was later inspired to help the Southern cause by becoming a volunteer nurse. Together with 40 other women she joined the Confederate Army in Corinth, Mississippi to help nurse some of the 23,000 Confederate and Union soldiers who were wounded at the Battle of Shiloh.

While many considered female nursing inappropriate for a women of Cumming's social class, she was of the firm belief that every patriotic Southern woman should help the cause. The work undertaken by female nurses like Cummings led to the re-organisation of Confederate field hospitals and a reduction in the death rates amongst wounded soldiers. Following the end of the war she became a staunch proponent of the Lost Cause ideology and her diaries are considered an important source of information on Civil War nursing. An active member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, she died in 1909.