Universal York

Part of the USA Today Network

The end of York’s Civil War Hospital

My most recent post was on the chapel that was part of U.S. Army Hospital on Penn Common in York during the Civil War. It was built by hospital convalescents and was large enough to accommodate religious services and public entertainments as well as rooms for a library and classes for the recuperating soldiers.

When the 87th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, returned to York, they were met with “a grand procession, speeches and a sumptuous dinner in the Chapel [of the U.S. Army Hospital.]”

A friend asked if the building still stands. No, after the war ended and the last patients left, the land was returned to the town. The photo above is said to show the park shortly after the buildings were torn down. Except for the gazebo-like structure, reportedly used as a band stand as well as a place to enjoy fresh air, all is flattened. The material was probably sold and reused for other construction around town.

In the narrative she wrote about the Civil War for Gibson’s 1886 History of York County, Pennsylvania, Mary C. Fisher relates: “The Barracks have long since been taken away. The scenes which were once a vivid reality are now but a memory of the past.”

Studies over the years have determined where the buildings might have stood. Just recently York County Heritage Trust partnered with York County Parks in an archaeology camp for boys and girls to look for traces of the Civil War hospital complex. I haven’t heard what all was found yet, but I’m sure there is a lot more to look for in coming years.

Stop by York County Heritage Trust, 250 East Market St. York Tuesdays through Saturdays to see the exhibit “Sawbones to Saviours: Civil War Medicine at Penn Common.”

Click here for my recent York Sunday News column on the hospital.

The hospital’s newspaper, The Cartridge Box, will be featured in an article by Jean Hershner Brannon in the 2012 edition of Journal of York County Heritage, coming out in September.