British soldiers are transported from Jamaica to fight in the Crimean War. A Scottish-Jamaican lady provides home comforts and medical assistance to her boys in Crimea and becomes a British heroine.
Mother Seacole always had this desire to be accepted for her medical skill and knowledge in the herbal medicine her mother taught her in Jamaica but, it was difficult. When the British soldiers from the British 97th were transported from Jamaica to fight in the Crimean War, she saw her chance to provide home comforts and medical assistance to “her boys.”
She puts her plan in motion by sailing from Panama to London when she learns that Florence Nightingale has been authorized to select and provide nurses for the troops. She makes the rounds of the war office, quartermaster-general, and medical department where she is rejected, she expects, because of the color of her skin.
Determined, she devises a plan to use her own finances to create a restaurant and store on the Crimean peninsula with the help of Thomas Day, her old companion from Panama. She sails to Constantinople where she visits Florence Nightingale at Scutari. Again, there is no offer of a position as a nurse.
Determined more than ever, she sails to Balaklava and sets her plan in motion. Despite a lack of warehouses for her stores and nightly thievery from the locals, she succeeds in building her British Hotel and survives the battles waged around her. She provides comfort and medical assistance to her soldiers who suffer diarrhea, dysentery, and other camp maladies.
She is ruined by the peace which others welcomed. Her shelves contained a large stock of stores, laid in at great cost, and there was no one to purchase them. Back in England at last, she was forced to file for bankruptcy. Lords and ladies came to her rescue and created a grand military festival, attended by thousands, to establish a fund for her benefit.
For the remainder of her life, Mrs. Seacole is remembered as one who nursed the sick, gave aid to the wounded, and performed the last offices to many of the dead soldiers. She felt pride and pleasure in chance meetings with friends in omnibuses, in river steamboats, in places of public amusement where race and gender no longer played a part.
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