Last chance to see York’s Civil War hospital exhibit
Today, March 30, is the last chance to see the very well done and well received exhibit on York’s U.S. Army Hospital on Penn Common during the Civil War. York County Heritage Trust (250 East Market St., York) galleries are open from 10 to 4.
The hospital cared for 14,256 sick and wounded soldiers during its three years of operation, from 1862 to 1865. Statistics show that 7,500 returned to active duty, 3,700 were furloughed, 1,100 soldiers were discharged, 1,300 transferred and only 193 died. This was very good survival and recovery rate.
The Chief Surgeon, Dr. Henry Palmer, and his staff seemed to follow the most modern practices of treatment of the day. Cleanliness, exercise and other activities were stressed. When the main buildings were converted from army barracks windows and ventilators were installed and the hospital was whitewashed inside and out. Fat round stoves at each end of each building provided heat. The story goes that when local businessman Samuel Small was asked for a couple of rocking chairs for the soldiers’ comfort, he sent a wagon full. A chapel was built and the patients had access to a library.
The men ate in three shifts, 800 at a time. A train-like system got the food in front of them quickly. Menus included mutton pot pie on Monday and Thursday, Pork and beans on Tuesday, Fresh vegetable soup on Wednesday, Boiled cabbage and potatoes on Friday, Irish stew on Saturday and Roast beef and mashed potatoes on Sunday.
There was much support from the local community. York women formed “The Soldiers’ Aid Society,” preparing bandages, baking bread and helping care for the sick and wounded.