Kathleen Fitzgerald—Final History 10b Paper
Florence Nightingale: The Spark That Lit the Slow-burning Flame of Progress
Women have always followed the war drum. Throughout history, observers havedescribed the masses of wives and lovers that followed their husbands and companionsinto battle. Even as late as the Napoleonic Wars of 1808-1815, the Wellington-ledBritish forces consistently trampled into battle with a band of exhausted-looking ladieshot in pursuit. Deeply in love and worried about having to survive by themselves, thesemilitary wives drew lots that decided whether they were “Not-to-go” or “To-go.” Of those who were unfortunate enough to draw the “Not-to-go” lot, many sobbed openly andthrew themselves at their husbands during the war departure ceremony.
Merelyreinforcing the Romantic and Victorian era images of women as being more helpless thanhelpful, these ladies of the Napoleonic War had no idea that by the end of the 19
century, their breed would become extinct. Between the end of the Napoleonic battles in1815 and the start of the Crimean War in 1854, Great Britain enjoyed peace anddownsized their military.
Eventually dragged into protecting Turkey (part of the former Ottoman Empire) from the Napoleonic-like expansion of Russia, Great Britain jumpedinto the brawl quite unprepared. Standing on the palace balcony just as the sun began torise over the majestic towers of nearby Westminster Abbey, Queen Victoria proudlywaved to the immensely patriotic crowd that had gathered to watch the parade of troopsmarching off to the East.
Victoria had always been proud to call herself a soldier’sdaughter, and it was “in the triple role of wife, mother, and sovereign that Victoria
Brigadier F.C.G. Page,
Following the Drum: Women in Wellington’s Wars
(London: André DeutschLimited, 1986), p. 22-23.
No Place for Ladies: The Untold Story of Women in the Crimean War
(London: AurumPress Ltd., 2007), p. 4.
Ibid., p. 7.