"The Best of Care": Civil War Hospitals

April 12, 2012 to January 11, 2013

At the beginning of the Civil War, there were very few hospitals around the country. Washington, the nation’s capital, had no military hospitals. Neither the Union nor the Confederacy was well prepared to treat wounded soldiers, let alone the high numbers of casualties that Civil War battles produced. As a result, the early battles led to an exorbitant death rate among the wounded.  Both sides, however, quickly developed a system of hospitals, beginning with battalion-level field dressing stations and regimental field hospitals that moved with the armies. An extensive system of general hospitals, usually in the cities, treated soldiers recovering from wounds or lingering illnesses. By the end of the war, Washington, close to the intense fighting in Virginia, had more than 50 general military hospitals.

Images of the exhibit are available from Special Collections on Flickr.

Curator: Beatriz Hardy, Director of Special Collections; Exhibit design and installation: Jennie Davy, Burger Archives Specialist, and Zachary Stocks, Undergraduate Student Volunteer.