“Thousands of women have served in the Nurse Corps of the U.S. Army. Many of them worked in War zones, where their extraordinary courage, resourcefulness, and toughness first astonished and then won the respect of male officers. Their skill and dedication helped to save tens of thousands of lives and made the Nurse Corps an essential part of the American military establishment.”
- Studies in Health, Illness, and Caregiving, Joan E. Lynaugh, Series Editor of Mary Sarnecky’s book, “A History of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps”.
In 1899, the Surgeon General set criteria for a Reserve Force of nurses. The Spanish-American war proved that without a reserve force, there would be a nursing shortage during wartime. On February 2, 1901, the Army Nurse Corps (female) became a permanent corps of the Medical Department under the Army Reorganization Act (31 Stat. 753) passed by the Congress.
Shortly after establishment of the Continental Army on June 14, 1775, Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates reported to Commander-in-Chief George Washington that “the sick suffered much for want of good female Nurses.” Gen. Washington then asked Congress for “a matron to supervise the nurses, bedding, etc.,” and for nurses “to attend the sick and obey the matron’s orders.”
In July 1775, a plan was submitted to the Second Continental Congress that provided one nurse for every ten patients and provided “that a matron be allotted to every hundred sick or wounded.”