Beyond All Priceis a historical novel, based on the real life story of Nellie M. Chase, a Union nurse during America's Civil War. History books have recorded only a few lines about her experiences as a Civil War nurse. She left no personal letters and no formal records, but those whose lives she touched remembered her as an angel of mercy. Her story, told here by a trained historian, is factual whenever events can be documented. Fictional descriptions, conversations, and transitions strive to reflect the true nature of the time in which she lived and struggled.
She had eloped at the age of 19 with a man she later discovered was a "drunk, a gambler, a liar, a forger, and a thief". She was strong enough to escape from that potentially abusive relationship and resourceful enough to find a job as wardrobe mistress for a theater. The woman with whom she shared a single room in a squalid tenement took an overdose of opium in an effort to escape a life of prostitution. Nellie joined the Union Army, because life in the midst of a war seemed safer than the one she had been living.
She found a home with the 100th Pennsylvania Regiment, a band of volunteers whose nickname was The Roundhead Regiment because of their strong religious beliefs. She believed so passionately in her country's cause that she displayed a soldier's bravery. Her skill and compassion led one of her patients to write, "Even here, amid the roar and carnage, was found a woman with the soul to dare danger; the heart to sympathize with the battle-stricken; sense, skill, and experience to make her a treasure beyond all price."
She was equally at home managing a southern plantation full of abandoned slaves, a battlefield operating station, or a 600-bed military hospital. But after the war, her deep-seated need to dedicate her life to a worthy cause continued to drive her efforts until she faced an enemy more lethal than war.