Though our first thoughts of Civil War soldiers are probably of them in battle, the reality is that they spent much more time in camp than in battles. So, in addition to their uniforms and weapons, they needed items for life in camp. At the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, we have an exhibit which is dedicated to these items. Let’s take a look at some of the things from the Everyday Life of a Soldier exhibit.
I ... read more
This weekend I took some artifacts out to the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office in Washington DC. While we do have the space open to the public on weekends, we’re still raising funds for display cases and a security system for the building. Until then, we cannot put any long-term artifact displays there. I was able to take a few artifacts out for a specific tour though.
A group of teachers from around the country came to the CBMSO with a tour from Brightspark Travel. On their tour they ... read more
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may have seen my previous posts about the mummified arm in the National Museum of Civil War Medicine’s collection. It is a mummified right hand and forearm which was found on the Antietam Battlefield after the battle. It is also clearly not amputated, but was traumatically separated, probably by a projectile. We’ve learned quite a bit about the arm in the past two years, so we can finally share the Antietam Arm’s story with our visitors.
It’s ... read more
The National Museum of Civil War Medicine recently received a donation of a collection of items which came from the Pry family. If you are familiar with my museum, you will know that our first satellite location is the Pry House Field Hospital Museum out on the Antietam Battlefield. If you are unfamiliar with the story of this fascinating property, take a look at our website here: http://www.civilwarmed.org/pry-house-field-hospital-museum/about-the-pry-house/ The Pry House was owned by Philip ... read more
Sometimes when you work at a small museum, you participate in projects which may not seem to relate to your job description. Recently, plans were made to add some Halloween-themed items to the NMCWM’s front window. There are no artifacts displayed in the window though (I wouldn’t put any there in all that direct sunlight!), so at first this didn’t sound like a very curatorial duty. It became one as soon as one of the museum’s mannequins was involved though. Technically, I am also ... read more
Since the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Cedar Creek is in just a few days, I thought this week I should feature an artifact from that battle. It may not be what you expect though!
Normally when you hear a surgical procedure mentioned, there’s an associated image of a surgical table and an operating room. However, surgeons on the battlefields during the Civil War didn’t have these luxuries. They had to improvise with the supplies they could find in the immediate area. Fashioning ... read more
It’s time for another new exhibit! Last week I helped to install an exhibit out at the Pry House Field Hospital Museum, on Medicines in the Civil War. NMCWM Educator, Kyle Wichtendahl developed this exhibit, so my role was mainly to help choose the appropriate artifacts, and then to pack them and transport them to the Pry House.
So, now that the artifacts are ready to go, let’s take a look at some of the drugs which were used during the Civil War. The exhibit ... read more
We’ve all heard the jokes about the food in hospitals being terrible. Were the meals different for Civil War soldiers in the hospitals? After all, they didn’t have Jell-O back then!
I was recently cataloging the book “The Hospital Steward’s Manual,” by Joseph Janvier Woodward, published in 1862. It contains a section titled, “Cooking in Hospitals” which not only lists the foods served to the patients, but the recipes (or “receipts”) as well! The opening section reads, ... read more
Civil War soldiers endured many hardships during the time they served. Though they couldn’t do much about the long marches and short supplies, many of them did find ways to cope with the loneliness and home-sickness. There are many recorded instances of soldiers bringing pets from home, or adopting pets they found, as a way to provide companionship and to boost their moral. Sometimes an animal would be adopted by the whole regiment as a mascot.
In searching the ... read more
If you’ve been following my blog recently, you’ll probably remember that I’ve been working on putting together a display for the trunk bed of Clara Barton’s which is on loan to us from the American Red Cross. Though it took just a bit longer than expected, it is finally out on display! The case which housed the Clara Barton exhibit here at the NMCWM was too small for the trunk bed to be displayed open, so I had to do a little rearranging first.
I ... read more