Beyond the Battlefield

Hospital Centers

Church CW Hospital_thumb.jpgAs war raged for four years, local residents witnessed the human cost of the fighting. Thousands of soldiers were wounded in battles and skirmishes, and much of the area resembled "one vast hospital" for most of the war. Large government tent hospitals were erected in fields, and many churches, homes, barns, schools, and other public buildings were also used to care for the sick and wounded. In the fall of 1862, just days after playing host to both armies during the battles of South Mountain and Antietam, Frederick was inundated with more than 9,000 wounded and sick soldiers. The city's General Hospital No. 1, established in the Revolutionary-era barracks for Hessian prisoners, operated throught the war; today, the surviving Barracks building sits on the Maryland School for the Deaf campus.

Encampment_thumb.jpgWestminster and Hagerstown played similar roles in hospital care, as did smaller towns such as Boonsboro and Burkittsville-- where the South Mountain Heritage Society has restored the Resurrection Reformed Church to its 1896 appearance. Future U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes recovered in a Middletown dwelling from wounds suffered at nearby South Mountain; future Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes convalesced in Hagerstown at the Howard Kennedy home; and Paul Joseph Revere, grandson of the famed Revolutionary War patriot, died in Westminster from wounds at Gettysburg. In October 1862, President Lincoln visited the wounded at Sharpsburg and Burkittsville and made a personal visit to see General George L. Hartsuff, who was being cared for in a private home in Frederick. During the war, 600 sisters from a dozen religious communities served as nurses. Following Gettysburg, the Daughters of Charity were among the first at the battlefield to give aid to the wounded. Charity Afire, an exhibit about the Daugthers’ Civil War caregiving, is on view at the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg.

National Museum of Civil War Medicine

Civil War Medicine Museum_thumb.jpgThe National Museum of Civil War Medicine (NMCWM) located in the historic Carty building in downtown Frederick, tells the story of medicine in the Civil War-- a story of courage, care, and healing amidst America's bloodiest war. Visitors will discover the harsh circumstances and personal sacrifices of soldiers, surgeons, and nurses, whose innovations continue to save lives today. Exhibitions explore the often-surprising side of Civil War medicine, include triage, ammunition and amputations, and anesthesia. Special after-hours events, walking tours, and lectures are offered regularly.

Pry HouseThe Pry House Field Hospital Museum, operated by the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, is located on the grounds of Antietam National Battlefield (just east of the main park). The museum interprets the structure's use as Major General McClellan's headquarters and as a field hospital. Samuel Pry owned the farmhouse and a gristmill in 1862, and both his land and his brother Philip's nearby property were converted to Union hospitals just after the Battle of Antietam. Exhibitions at the museum recall the achievements of Jonathan Letterman, who innovation and reorganization of the Union Army's Medical Corps during the chaotic battles of 1862 made him a hero of Civil War medicine. The house, barn, and grounds, just east of the main battlefield park, make a great destination for student groups. Open seasonally.