Mary Seacole - whats the truth?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by pandaplodder, Jan 11, 2018.

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  1. Just watched a series recorded on one of the Sky channels called "the British", tbh it did seem a bit revisionist, maybe it was celebs on camera spouting off bits of information as if they knew it to be true.

    One puzzlement was a scene depicting Mary Seacole in the heat of battle, for those who haven't seen it, the actual scene showed a young black woman (think Scary Spice) wearing a Soldiers red tunic (think Gary Moore - out in the fields) literally manhandling falling casualties. Now bearing in mind the Crimea War happened in Victorian times no self-respecting woman of any standing would be wearing men's clothing, so we can assume the scene in question was artistic licence, all made up, it never happened.

    So what is the true story?

    One story says she followed "her boys" from Jamaica (whichever regiment that was) when more accurate accounts have her running a business in Panama.

    Seacole when she arrived in Crimea by all accounts set up a hotel made out of corrugated tin, it didn't have any rooms to rent but sold hot meals and liquor so it wasn't a really a hotel, furthermore, it only served Officers who could pay, Seacole wasn't interested in OR's. Time and time again there are mentions of convalescing officers but very sketchy accounts and these try to dress up the clientele as convalescing from wounds.

    So most accounts based on records say she was a sutler, out there to run a business and make a profit, there are only tenuous mentions to any nursing, in fact, Seacole is alleged to only have visited the battlefield twice. In her own words she helped a dying Russian soldier whose face was badly smashed by removing teeth so he could breathe, however, she claimed he smiled at her in gratitude.

    It was very much the fashion in those times for spectators to view battles, for instance, rich people turned up in their carriages to watch the Battle of Bull Run during the American Civil War and very nearly were overrun by Confederate Forces when the Union Army broke and fled. The Crimea was no different and most major battles had civilian spectators, ideal opportunity for Seacole to sell refreshments and make a tidy sum! After a battle, it was still common for the battlefield to be the haunt of scavengers and corpse robbers, this is only a few decades after Waterloo (think Waterloo teeth).

    So Seacole was a businesswoman, one who actually failed, but I wouldn't call her a nurse. Left-wing politics and revisionism need it's heroes and heroines no matter how much the truth is diluted and altered.
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  2. Catching the fallen - looting them before they hit the ground?
    And Waterloo - a source of supply for men and horse bones for bone china although not harvested as fresh as the teeth.
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  3. Professor Lynn McDonald, at the University of Guelph in Canada and Director of the Collected Works of Florence Nightingale says this:

    "Mary Seacole, although never the 'black British nurse' she is claimed to have been, was a successful mixed-race immigrant to Britain. She led an adventurous life, and her memoir of 1857 is still a lively read. She was kind and generous. She made friends of her customers, army and navy officers, who came to her rescue with a fund when she was declared bankrupt. While her cures have been vastly exaggerated, she doubtless did what she could to ease suffering, when no effective cures existed. In epidemics pre-Crimea, she said a comforting word to the dying and closed the eyes of the dead. During the Crimean War, probably her greatest kindness was to serve hot tea and lemonade to cold, suffering soldiers awaiting transport to hospital on the wharf at Balaclava. She deserves much credit for rising to the occasion, but her tea and lemonade did not save lives, pioneer nursing or advance health care."

    Here is her full piece from The War Correspondent in July 2012.

    Professor Lynn McDonald on Mary Seacole
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  4. sirbhp

    sirbhp LE Book Reviewer

    she is taught in the history syllabus in junior schools. She cant all be fiction
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  5. A really good run down of the story. And they do some awesome stuff through out history.

    Sent from my SM-G920F using Tapatalk
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  6. She's the modern day luvvy's heroine, truth she ran a unruly shack selling drink and food. They even had a statue of her, didn't do that for Annie Walker.
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  7. There's a statue outside Tommy's I think.

    There is still a desperate push to suggest that British history is also black history. Tiny numbers of blacks served and occasionally did interesting things but the statues are all white for a reason: the vast majority of the population was (still is too) white and so all our great figures will be white as well.
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  8. So is Religion and Father Christmas
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  9. You wouldn't let it lie..and this is for you own good.
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  10. 4E4949D2-3C50-4A66-97FB-E42DC9E0E878.jpeg
    It could be worse - if she hadn’t been found with her fingers in the till, so to speak, we could well have had a statue to this harridan too:

    Imagine the size of the plinth!
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  11. Indeed, Seacole was considerably more white than black.
  12. seaweed

    seaweed LE Book Reviewer

    The Left want a Seacole fairy story. Truth doesn't come into it. It never does for them.
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  13. A few years back the National Army Museum had an exhibition on the Crimean War. A fair amount of space was devoted to Mary Seacole. Less so to Florence Nightingale. Mary Seacole does tick a large number of revisionist boxes, lowly birth, mixed race, female. A pity she wasn't visibly disabled or gay although that could still be arranged.

    She ran an officer's refectory charging for her work which is fair enough. She was in it for the money but sounds like a nice person.

    It must annoy the history revisionists that the term Nightingale Ward lives on.
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  14. seaweed

    seaweed LE Book Reviewer

    I'm not 'against' Seacole, she had to find some way of earning a living and got off her bottom and got on with it, and going to the Crimea from her station in life was pretty adventurous. What stinks is the way a false narrative is being used to push her past Florence Nightingale who REALLY helped the troops and also used statistics in a novel way - she seem to have in vented the pie chart - to get the government to recognise the problem of troops' sickness.
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