Cordelia Perrine Harvey Banner


Four months after the death of her husband, Governor of Wisconsin Louis P. Harvey, a friend wrote to the new governor about appointing Louis Harvey's widow, Cordelia, to the Sanitary Commission.

Harvey received the appointment and went to work in Union hospitals along the Mississippi River, performing her duties with such zeal and devotion that her patients dubbed her the "Wisconsin Angel". While working with wounded and sick Wisconsin soldiers in the hot southern climate, Harvey was appalled that the army, out of fear that soldiers might desert, forbade the men from returning to cooler, more healthful Northern hospitals to recover. Then, when Harvey contracted one of the camp fevers herself and recuperated quickly back in Wisconsin, she became determined that the soldiers have the same chance for recovery. Harvey had told President Lincoln that the policy of keeping wounded and sick soldiers in hospitals at the front was equivalent to a death sentence for many patriotic men. "dead men cannot fight, and they may not desert," she told him. Neither President Lincoln or Secretary of War Stanton wanted to buck the established military system, but Harvey's logic and persistence finally won them over, and hospitals in the North were authorized and constructed.