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Civil War Medicine in Washington
May 30, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm| Pay-What-You-Please
Washington’s Civil War hospitals played host to a wide range of characters from President Abraham Lincoln to Walt Whitman.
As the Civil War roared to life in April 1861, Washington was a city completely unprepared for war. With thousands of soldiers descending on the Union capital, minimal defensive fortifications, housing, and other vital military amenities became a major problem. But by the summer of 1861, the lack of large hospitals pushed Washington into near crisis. With battles and campaigns occurring nearby on an almost daily basis, the city needed its first hospital system.
On Thursday, May 30 at 6 PM, public historian Jake Wynn will discuss the fascinating role played by Washington’s military hospitals in the Civil War. Tens of thousands of wounded and sick soldiers were cared for in hospitals established across the District of Columbia. From the National Mall, to Georgetown, and dotting the hills north of the city, these medical facilities became an integral part of war-time Washington and played host to a wide range of characters from President Abraham Lincoln to Walt Whitman, from Louisa May Alcott to Clara Barton.
The medicine practiced in these hospitals was not the butchery often credited to Civil War medicine. Instead, Washington’s hospitals hosted some of the most skilled surgeons in the world, utilizing new techniques and ensuring that countless lives were saved. This talk will explore the establishment of the hospitals, the men and women who worked in them, the patients treated within their walls, and the hospital system’s impact on Washington.
This is a pay-what-you-please presentation. This event is part of the Walt Whitman 200 Festival, sponsored by HumanitiesDC. The festival runs from May 23 – June 3, 2019.
Jake Wynn is the Director of Interpretation at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine and Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office.