Nursing was not a woman’s job before the Civil War, but by 1865, there were over 3,000 nurses serving the Union and Confederacy. In the North, most female nurses worked in military hospitals. African American women serving as nurses were not included in those numbers, nor were they recognized for their service for decades to come.

It is a largely untold story but during the Civil War, black women did serve as nurses. The United States Navy had several African American women serve as “first class boys” on the Union hospital ship U.S.S. Red Rover. “First Class Boy” was a rank given to young men under seventeen who performed general sailor duties. Ann Bradford Stokes is the most well-known of these women and today we will explore her story.

CLICK HERE to read the inspiring story of Ann Bradford Stokes and her unwavering efforts to be recognized for her service to the United States and become the first woman to apply for and be granted a pension based on her own military service.