After the War
After the war, the sisters returned home and quietly resumed their previous ministries. Although they had begun their wartime service subject to ignorance and misunderstanding on the part of those they served, their steadfast devotion to their patients helped spread tolerance and respect for American Catholics.
As American Cardinal O’Connell noted in a tribute:
“Some of these holy women, worn out with prolonged hardships, paid with their lives for their heroic devotion. They, as well as the soldiers fallen in the fight, gave all to the Republic.”
A Grand Tribute
On May 21, 1910, the last living sister who worked at Douglas Military Hospital during the war, Sister Mary Anastasia Quinn, was awarded a bronze pin by the Grand Army of the Republic in recognition of her “self-sacrificing… priceless services, rendered under the most trying circumstances… aiding the sick and wounded, to soothe the last hours of many a dying comrade…” Soldiers also presented other sisters with mementos in memory of their service. An engraved silver service dish was presented to the Sisters of Baltimore.
Nuns of the Battlefield Memorial
Additionally, located in Washington D.C., a memorial was erected in 1924 by the Ladies Auxiliary of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. It was dedicated to the 600-plus Catholic sisters who cared for the sick and wounded during the Civil War on both sides. The inscription reads:
They comforted the dying, nursed the wounded, carried hope to the imprisoned, gave in his name a drink of water to the thirsty.
Several digitized archival artifacts from the Mercy Heritage Center are located below.