Civil war-era prostitution on ‘mercy street’ and in nashville
In episode three of Mercy StreetDr. Foster and Nurse Hastings are sent to treat a Union Army officer for a sexually transmitted disease. The episode touches upon the prevalence of prostitution in occupied cities and military camps during the Civil War.
Prostitution existed in Nashville long before the Civil War. Poor single women and widows were especially vulnerable because 19th-century society provided few employment opportunities for women.
In response, some elite women and men in Nashville set up charities to help poor single women stay out of prostitution. One of these charities was the House of Industry for Females established in The institution took orphaned girls and young women off the streets of Nashville and trained them in domestic skills.
Prostitution flourished in Civil War Nashville for two reasons. First, the war disrupted working-class families sending men into the army or exile, leaving many women without a means of financial support. Second, the city experienced the influx of thousands of Union soldiers, many looking for ways to relieve the boredom of camp life.
Patronizing prostitution charges in nashville, tennessee
As a result by mid, sexually transmitted diseases had reached epidemic proportions among soldiers. As seen in Mercy Street, medical treatment for these diseases was painful, not always effective, and could sideline a soldier for weeks.
To curb the epidemic, the Union Army came up with an extreme solution: It directed that all prostitutes in the city be rounded up and transported north. Estimates range from a few hundred to a thousand women being forced to leave the city via rail or steamboat. One documented transport was the steamer Idahoe, which tried to deliver a group of these women to the city of Louisville.
After Louisville refused to accept the women, the steamer traveled further upriver to Cincinnati, but was again rejected. The army announced that all prostitutes were to report for a medical examination or risk serving 30 days in jail. If a woman was found to have a sexually transmitted disease, she would receive proper treatment in a hospital set up specifically for prostitutes.
According to army reports, prostitutes were d following the implementation of this plan. By Januarywomen and 2, men were treated for sexually transmitted diseases in Nashville. One of the hospitals for the prostitutes was located on 2nd Avenue, probably north of Gay Street.
The hospital for the men was located in the former Hynes School building built in on the corner of Jo Johnston Street and 5th Avenue. Neither building exists today. The army terminated the plan in Nashville when the war ended.
Today, a few counties in the United States have legalized prostitution and it is noteworthy that these prostitution licensing systems are not too different from what was instituted in Nashville in Rob DeHart received his M. As a native of Nashville, I thoroughly enjoyed the additional information on the Civil War. Mercy Street airs 7 p.
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