Army Hospital ramped up in the summer of 1862

Scott Mingus photo of a diorama of the York U.S. Army General Hospital

The spring and summer of 1862 were the bloodiest (to that date) in the history of the now-divided United States. Heretofore obscure places such as Shiloh, Kernstown, Front Royal, Gaines Mill, Malvern Hill, Fair Oaks, and dozens more were now on the public consciousness as battlegrounds of the American Civil War. The conflict had escalated dramatically, and casualty counts were now at record levels. Yet, the worst was yet to come.

In order to treat the growing number of wounded and sick soldiers, the Union Army established a formal military hospital on the grounds of Penn Common (now Penn Park) on the south side of York, Pennsylvania. Capable of housing 2,000 patients at a time, the new facility incorporated the buildings of the previous training camp for Colonel Thomas Devin’s 6th New York Cavalry. By the end of the war, more than 14,000 men would receive medical care and comfort at the U. S. Army General Hospital. At times, overflow patients were housed on the two upper floors of the Odd Fellows Hall (Washington Hall) on S. George Street not far from the hospital complex.

Here’s a review of the early progress of the hospital, as taken from the September 23, 1862, issue of the Gazette, York’s leading Democratic-oriented newspaper.

Penn Park, the site of the U. S. Army General Hospital, during the Civil War.

The Military Hospital

The U. S. Army General hospital located on the Public Common of this borough was first opened for the reception of patients on the 18th June last, since which time over 1600 patients have been admitted. The hospital buildings were erected last December as barracks for the 6th N. Y. Cavalry Regiment, which was quartered here during the winter. Some time after the departure of the Regiment, Captain Putnam, Assistant United States Quarter-master, was ordered here to dispose of the lumber contained in the barracks, but finding them of substantial character, he stated the fact to the War Department, and was ordered to leave them stand, to be used either as barracks or an hospital. Shortly afterwards new ropes were put on, and other such alterations were made as to render the buildings suitable for the reception of sick and wounded soldiers. Patients immediately began to arrive and the hospital is now one of the largest, best arranged, and best conducted in the count[r]y. The following is a list of the arrivals of patients, with the dates:

June 18 …………………19

” 27………………………131

July 2 ………………….167

” 8 ………………………158

” 11 ………………………82

Aug. 11 …………………87

” 16 …………………….199

” 21 ………………………11

Sept. 2 ……………….279

” 7 ……………………..303

Total ………………..1606

Of the above number, 531 have been returned to duty, 45 discharged from service, 11 have died, and 114 transferred to other hospitals, leaving about 900 still in the hospital. A number of the patients are quartered in the second and third stories of Washington Hall.

The following are the officers of the Hospital:

Brigade Surgeon, Henry Palmer, U. S. N., in charge of the Hospital.

George L. Jacoby, Clerk.

Assistant Surgeons C. L. DeGraw, U S A, Assistant P L Peltier, U S N.

Acting Surgeons H F Bowen, Henry L Smyser, A R Blair, Jacob Hay, Jr.

Samuel H Well, Medical Cadet, U S A; D Jerome Bossler, Hospital Steward, U S A, Mrs Rachel Myers, Matron.

E C Gravemeyer, Acting Commissary.

Jos K Murphy, chief cook.

L K Morris, Acting Ward master

Layout of the army hospital on Penn Commons (Scott Mingus photo).

 

 

 

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