Annie Wittenmeyer

Time Frame: 1861-1865

During the Civil War, 1861-1865, Annie Wittenmeyer worked hard to provide sick and wounded men with food and comfort. Her fellow Iowans donated food for the armies.
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“The Civil War,” The Iowa Heritage: Program # 5, Iowa Public Television, 1977.

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Bandages are not needed for the sick soldiers, but ticks, in which to put straw for beds, pillows for their heads instead of knapsacks. Cotton sheets and garments instead of uniforms. Dried fruits and delicacies to take the place of regular army rations.

An Iowan woman, Annie Turner Wittenmeyer, was responsible for improving conditions for sick and wounded men. After she wrote to friends of the poor conditions she had seen in the hospitals, she was overwhelmed with donations from all over Iowa. Citizens in Muscatine sent 15 hundred bushels of potatoes, another community sent five cows to provide fresh milk and steam boat companies carried many of the donations to the battlefront for free.

During a visit to one army hospital Mrs. Wittenmeyer came upon a soldier who was suffering from typhoid fever. He was refusing he breakfast, which consisted of the regular army rations.

On a dingy looking wooden tray was a tin cup full of strong, black coffee. Beside it was a lead-looking tin platter, on which was a piece of dried, fat bacon, swimming in its own grease, and a slice of dried, stale baker’s bread.

The sick man was Davis Turner, Annie’s own brother. This more than anything promoted Mrs. Wittenmeyer to propose that special diet kitchens be attached to every army hospital so that more nutritious meals could be served to the sick and wounded men.


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