I have decided to fill a void in the Gettysburg Campaign by writing a book on the role of the U.S. Army Hospitals in this area during the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg. I will focus on the semi-permanent hospitals such as the ones in York (shown above), Harrisburg, and Philadelphia.
There are several excellent books on the temporary field hospitals around Gettysburg in the immediate days after the battle, but there does not appear to be a comprehensive work on the secondary phase of treatment, at least as it concerns the Pennsylvania medical facilities.
Hence, if any readers have useful primary sources (letters, documents, photographs, journal entries, etc.) from Mower Hospital, the York U.S. Army Hospital, and any and all other PA hospitals used to serve the tens of thousands of wounded from Gettysburg, please let me know.
I think this will be a challenging manuscript to write, but one I think deserves a place in the pantheon of Gettysburg-related books.
Let me know if you have useful suggestions!
Historic Church Walking Tours of Gettysburg celebrates its 10th season of providing local residents and tourists alike with visits to their historic churches. On Wednesday evenings during the summer months, church volunteers provide short programs about their church and how it played a crucial role during and after America’s most significant Civil War battle.
When the Battle of Gettysburg ended on July 3, 1863, the two armies left behind more than 22,000 wounded and dying soldiers in this small town of only 2,400 residents. Like most of Gettysburg’s buildings, churches became surgical hospitals. Churches became scenes of both tragedy and heroism.
The visitor will get to see the beautiful features of each church, hear about its history and, in some cases, its use as a field hospital. Stories of heroic acts by brave citizens will be told through narratives and short skits. Those on the tour will see the pew that President Lincoln sat in when he visited Gettysburg, the stained glass window given in tribute to the Sisters of Charity, plaques and engraved stones dedicated to Union and Confederate soldiers, and the original Methodist Church building which later became a GAR Hall. These and other items of interest will be explained during the tours.
Rain or shine, beginning June 12, four churches will be featured each Wednesday with a different four churches the following Wednesday. This schedule will be alternated throughout the summer with the “West Tour” starting on June 12 and the “East Tour” starting on June 19. (See complete schedule below.)
Jim Schmick of the Civil War & More Bookstore in Mechanicsburg is hosting an afternoon of book signings and Civil War music. The “Civil War Authors of Central Pennsylvania Book Signing” will be held on June 1st & 2nd, 2013, from 1 pm – 3:30 pm at the store, which is located at 10 S. Market Street, Mechanicsburg PA.
- “The Confederate Approach on Harrisburg: The Gettysburg Campaign’s Northernmost Reaches”
- “Harrisburg and the Civil War: Defending the Keystone of the Union”
- “Emergency Men: The 26th Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia and the Gettysburg Campaign”
- “Guide To Gettysburg Battlefield Monuments”
- “Searching for George Gordon Meade: The Forgotten Victor of Gettysburg”
- “Pennsylvania Civil War Trails: The Guide to Battle Sites, Monuments, Museums and Towns”
M. David Detweiler, President and CEO of Stackpole Books, and David Reisch, Stackpole History Editor
- “Gettysburg: The Story of the Battle with Maps”
(Detweiler will not be present on Saturday, but will sign copies in advance for Saturday and will be present Sunday.)
Live Civil War Music!!!
In my previous post, I briefly discussed the history of the Confederate Memorial Chapel and the surrounding property which once was the grounds of the Confederate Soldiers Home. I was there, along with living historians Ed Lefevre and David Meisky, to tell the story of Confederate General William “Extra Billy” Smith who is the subject of my latest book (Savas Beatie LLC, April 2013).
One of the features of the chapel is its impressive array of original stained glass windows which were donated by private individuals, often in memory of a specific Confederate officer. Among these is a window dedicated to the memory of one of Extra Billy’s boys, Col. Austin E. Smith, who died at the Civil War battle of Gaines’ Mill.
Here are some of the windows…
I was honored to receive an invitation to hold the national debut of my new book on Confederate General William “Extra Billy” Smith: From Virginia’s Statehouse to Gettysburg Scapegoat at the Confederate Memorial Chapel in Richmond, Va. Two of General Smith’s children contributed an impressive stained glass window in memory of their brother Austin E. Smith, a Confederate officer who died in action at the 1862 battle of Gaines’ Mill.
The chapel, owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia, is next to the Virginia Fine Arts Center and the Virginia Historical Society. Back in the Reconstruction years, these were the grounds of the Confederate Veterans Home. The only remnants of that once sprawling facility are the chapel shown above and the Robinson house, now an administrative center.
Extra Billy Smith’s daughter Mary Amelia helped finance the construction of a cottage on the grounds to house some of the old veterans in their golden years. The William Smith Memorial Cottage, like all of the houses and barracks other than the Robinson house, was razed in the 20th century.
Here are several more photographs of the historic old chapel and its interior.
York County historian and author Ronald L. Hershner has for many years been a prominent supporter of this region’s history, having served on various boards and committees and well as actively promoting history and encouraging others to do the same.
He became aware of a series of letters written to a soldier by his family members and various friends, letters which have been handed down for generations to descendants.
The new book is a product of the York County Heritage Trust and promises to be a welcome addition to the historiography of this area.
From the promotional flyer provided by YCHT…
Enola, Pennsylvania,-based author Cooper H. Wingert has established himself not only as one of the finest up and coming young authors in the field of Civil War history, but as a leading expert on the Civil War events in central Pennsylvania. His recent book The Confederate Approach to Harrisburg quickly sold out and had since been reprinted, and his research into that book proved fertile enough to generate enough material for another volume of stories and incidents from the Keystone capital region.
Cooper’s latest effort, entitled Harrisburg and the Civil War: Defending the Keystone of the Union, is a compilation of short essays he wrote on the home front, politics, military training camps, and the people of Harrisburg and the nearby Susquehanna Valley region during the tumultuous period of the American Civil War (1861-1865). This is a fascinating, easy to read study which in the words in the foreword by the distinguished Dr. Richard J. Sommers of the U. S. War College in Carlisle, “It makes an important contribution to understanding civilians at war. It belongs in every Civil War library.”
The York Civil War Round Table will feature roundtable member Randy Drais as the speaker at this month’s meeting on Wednesday, May 15, 2013. Randy will present a PowerPoint talk based on his many years of experience “Exploring the Battle of Gettysburg.” The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Historical Society Museum, 250 E. Market St., York, PA.
Did you know that there were three privately-owned parks and a trolley line on the battlefield, all roughly operating at the same time? Did you know that in addition to “citizen soldier” John Burns, the 70+ year old civilian who fought alongside Union troops, there were other citizens who fought as well, including an African-American? Did you know that one monument, with an interesting story behind it, includes a depiction of a hornet’s nest with hornets angrily buzzing about? Join us for a look at many of the lesser known facts, individuals, and locations pertaining to the Battle of Gettysburg and the Gettysburg National Military Park.
York County, Pennsylvania, played a role in the Gettysburg Campaign. More than 20,000 soldiers (Union and Confederate) tramped through or rode through the county during the last week of June and the first two days of July in 1863. One out of every 7 soldiers in Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia visited York County in the days before the Battle of Gettysburg.
Famed Civil War generals such as Jeb Stuart, George Armstrong Custer, and Jubal Early were among those martial visitors. Abraham Lincoln and William Seward came through York County on their way to Gettysburg in November 1863 for the dedication ceremony for the new National Cemetery.
Now, 150 years later, a number of special events and commemorations will mark the sesquicentennial of York County’s role in the Gettysburg Campaign.
Here is a partial listing… please notify blogger Scott Mingus of any additions or modifications to this list.
Recently fellow blogger Jim McClure and I were chatting about prisoner of war camps here in York County, Pa. Many locals are aware of the two dedicated sites, Camp Security for British prisoners in the American Revolution and a WWII camp for German prisoners in southern York County. The old York jail also held officers from the American Revolution for a time.
During the American Civil War, there were no full-time prison camps, but there were several temporary holding places. The most notable was the Oddfellows Hall, which still stands at the intersection of S. George and W. King streets in downtown York. Wounded Confederate prisoners of war were housed and treated here after the battle of Gettysburg because the chief surgeon of the local U.S. Army General Hospital at Penn Common refused to admit them. He had been mistreated when the Rebels had taken him prisoner in the days before the battle when the Rebels captured the hospital during the early hours of the Confederate occupation of York.
Here are a few other accounts of prisoners of war held in York County: