Hospital Sketches is a compilation of four sketches based on letters Louisa May Alcott sent home during the six weeks she spent as a volunteer nurse for the Union Army in Georgetown. The first of the four was initially published on May 22, 1863 in the magazine “Boston Commonwealth.” The pieces received great critical and popular acclaim making Alcott an overnight success. The four sketches were compiled and published in a single volume by the abolitionist publisher James Redpath several months later.
This is a great introduction to historic writing. Yes, this book was and still is billed as a true story, but if you delve deeper into the story, you can find plenty of evidence of embellishment. But…is it fiction? Or is this embellishment still truth? One could argue that this is actually how Alcott saw and remembered the events. Or she could have intentionally embellished events to increase sympathy for the cause. This is why studying history isn’t about memorizing dates and looking at the world as though it’s black and white.