Field Hospital Sites Gets Signs, Tour
GETTYSBURG, Pa. - In a cooperative effort between Historic Gettysburg-Adams County (HGAC) and The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, 17 Union and 18 Confederate Civil War hospital signs have been erected at sites which were known to have served as field hospitals after the Battle of Gettysburg.
A "field" hospital was, as the name suggests, a place in the battlefield area, such as barns, shops, homes, schools and churches, which were used to give medical attention to the wounded.
While the battle lasted three days in July 1863, the pain and suffering of wounded in Gettysburg continued into October when the last field hospital, Camp Letterman, was closed.
As remembered by local citizens, rapid death was in many ways more merciful than waiting for infection or pneumonia to slowly take its toll. Nurses of the Patriot Daughters of Lancaster noted in their diaries that the many hours thinking of family, mothers, wives and children must have brought some small comfort to those facing inevitable death.
A tour booklet titled "Gettysburg Civil War Field Hospital Tour" prepared by HGAC gives tour instructions and distances and times for those wishing to visit the hospital sites. The booklet has more than 40 pages of illustrations showing each sign and the site, four maps, archive photos and an index.
A typical entry is that for Union Hospital 17, the Hugh Culbertson Farm: "Situated on Carrolls Tract Road between Cashtown and Fairfield, this house was used as a hospital for the 6th Cavalry. On July 3, 1863, the rear guard of the Confederate Cavalry and the 6th Union Cavalry skirmished in this area. Private George Platt, Troop II, of the 6th Cavalry saved the Union Colors, was promoted to Sergeant, and awarded the Medal of Honor."
Board members Dick Miller, Jim Neely, Dave English and John Shuss were instrumental in carrying out the tour project. Copies of the 56-page brochure are available from board members or through the HGAC office at P.O. Box 4611, Gettysburg, PA 17325; (717) 334-5185.
--Civil War News