Long ago, every cannon fired, every fort captured or green acre lost represented a small battle of the American Civil War, fought in defense of homeland and liberty. But another battle was waged just as desperately on both sides of the horrific conflict. Brave men and women, some little more than children, tried to save lives rather than take them – their battles fought in poorly-supplied field dressing stations, hastily organized field hospitals, and more. For tales of tragedy and heroism from this often-overlooked part of the Civil War, visit the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Maryland on the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Byway.
A fallen soldier’s life can depend upon how quickly he is treated. At the museum, learn how Jonathan Letterman, the Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac, organized a revolutionary system of ambulances and trained stretcher-bearers to get the wounded off the battlefields and into an infirmary. Letterman's system, developed during the Civil War, remains the basis for modern military evacuation systems even today. However, not even the most dedicated doctors or most efficient transportation can save every wounded soldier. For something a little more macabre, check out the embalming exhibit. During the Civil War, 10,000 to 40,000 soldiers were shipped home after falling in battle. Surgeons and specialists preserved their bodies for their families by the then little-known and rarely used practice of embalming.
Get an inside look at crowded military camps, hospital conditions, African-American issues, the role of women and children during the Civil War, and much more at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. Plan your trip by visiting the museum website, and immerse yourself in a little-known aspect of the American Civil War.
- Copyright © August 30, 2010 MC4 Army.