Featured Book Reviewer
- Feb 23, 2013
- East Texas
Last month I revisited the National Museum of Civil War Medicine , located in downtown Frederick, Maryland, along with my friend medical reenactor Doug Garnett (@1863surgeon) who took these photos. For those who have never visited here, the museum is located in a period building that served for a time as an embalming school in this town that became a hospital following the 1862 Battle of Antietam at nearby Sharpsburg, and again after Gettysburg in July, 1863 and Monocacy in July, 1864. The old building is chock full of exhibits like the ones shown here detailing the medical care and experiences of the soldiers of both sides in the Civil War. Above, items and uniform relating to medical stewards (corpsmen) placed before the backdrop of a yellow hospital flag bearing a green H in its center, designating a Union hospital.
Many small items like the pocket-sized kit at left and medicines center are in cases throughout the exhibit area. Below, soldier's personal items include a CDV of the famous Children of the Battlefield, a photo that enabled the identification of Sgt. Amos Humiston on the battlefield at Gettysburg when the image found on his body was published in newspapers.
In addition to regular medicine, related subjects such as dentistry, above, and embalming, below are also explored.
Medicines and the pharmaceutical side are included, like the portable or traveling medicine chest above. Below, a mock-up of a period medical wagon containing other medicines and hospital supplies.
Postwar experiences such as the problems of amputees are shown by the artificial arm above and comparison of a period artificial leg with a more modern one at the right in the case below.
But it is the inclusion of actual specimens that sets the museum apart from others of its kind. The so-called Antietam Arm was apparently found on the battlefield of that name some time afterwards and kept by a local citizen who eventually donated it for display. According to the description, it shows no evidence of amputation and must have been severed from the body by some trauma such as a shell fragment.
Other specimens are in the glass jars like the one below where they were placed for study in period medical schools such as this example showing according to the label Dry Gangrene.
Among the most interesting - if horrific and sad - were the saved specimens below taken from the unlucky identified individual soldiers who may or may not have survived their own particular medical experiences!