Aims: To analyze the personal experiences of Jane Stuart Woolsey in Hospital Days (1868), an inspiring nurse who brought order, training and quality to nursing activities in the context of the American Civil War (1861-1865). Background: In a restrictive context where the general access of women to public sphere activities was rather limited and where nursing was not a formally regulated professional activity, Jane Woolsey wrote Hospital Days to recount her wartime nursing experiences as the superintendent of Fairfax Seminary Hospital in Virginia. Design: Historical research. Methods: Historical research methods were used to analyze Hospital Days. Data gathered from primary and secondary sources were synthesized and discussed in terms of their historical context and significance. Results: Unlike other triumphal narratives at the time, Woolsey develops a compelling account describing the work expected of a nurse and denouncing the lack of training among most nurses working in the war context. Conclusion: Jane Woolsey was a pioneering nurse who improved the quality of nursing care amidst the American Civil War. Her personal experiences collected in Hospital Days reflect her desire for the proper training of nurses and her contributions to emerging professional nursing activities built on the integration of previous domestic values, good training and good administration.