Emergency nursing in the Indian Mutiny

The Indian Rebellion (1857) occupies a central position in the mythology of late nineteenth-century British history. The shock throughout British colonial society was expressed through a medium synonymous with the British experience in India, namely diaries or journals. Differing to accounts from other conflicts of the period, the prolonged and localised nature of fighting at Lucknow and Cawnpore meant that chroniclers represented a cross-section of gender, class and professional status in colonial society, including a range of medical practitioners but also women of various social ranks who had volunteered for medical service. Drawing on printed and manuscript sources from c.1857-c.1900, this chapter argues that the Indian Mutiny diary functions as both a vital record of women’s voices in the history of British colonial experience and a unique example of a nineteenth-century practitioner narrative told from a female perspective. The chapter largely focuses on journals published by participants of the Siege of Lucknow, and will explore the way in which a range of women eyewitnesses acting as nurses were able to participate in the defence of British interests in a time of national emergency thereby contributing to the culture of imperial myth-making that surrounds the Indian Rebellion.

in Colonial caring