Before she wrote Little Women — one of the most popular books for children ever written — Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888) served during the Civil War as a volunteer nurse in Washington, D.C. Drawing on that episode in her life, she produced Hospital Sketches, a fictionalized account of her experiences at the military hospital in Georgetown. This collection of five poignant short stories contains two pieces from Hospital Sketches, published in 1863: "Obtaining Supplies," recounting the obstacles Alcott's fictionalized persona, Tribulation Periwinkle, faced in gaining her independence and getting to Washington; and "A Night," a moving account of her encounter with a dying soldier. Also included are "My Contraband," a gripping tale of vengeance involving a Civil War nurse, her Confederate patient and his former slave; "Happy Women," a fictionalized essay about four "spinsters" with a positive attitude toward their marital status; and "How I Went Out to Service," an autobiographical sketch of a young woman's undaunted pursuit of financial independence. Rich in their simple eloquence, these stories provide revealing glimpses of the concerns and literary techniques of one of America's most admired authors.