Sisters of Holy Cross in the Field
The Mother Superior of St. Mary’s, Mother Angela Gillespie, was among the first six nuns who answered the call to serve during the Civil War. Soon another dispatch of six nuns left campus, then many more. Many served at a makeshift hospital complex near Mound City, Illinois, near the meeting point of Illinois, Kentucky and Missouri. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had his headquarters there.
Their work was marked by extreme valor amid horrifying circumstances. Few had any formal nursing training, and had to learn on the job amid stunning privation. They worked long hours to provide care and comfort to casualties. Sister Fidelis was one of two of the group who died of disease in 1862; she was so committed to her work that she never saw the front of the Mound City hospital during her time there.