Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Antietam video: A visit to seldom-seen Union hospital site

An early-morning view of seldom-visited site of the old Otho J. Smith farm. 

PANORAMA: O.J. Smith farm on cold, misty morning. 
(Click at upper right for full-screen experience.)

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In heart-rending accounts, nurses who served at the Otho J. Smith farm-turned-Union hospital near the Antietam battlefield wrote of wretched soldiers under their care. About one thousand Union wounded and some Confederates were patients at the division hospital for Union General William French after the battle on Sept. 17, 1862.

"Many last messages were taken and many precious treasures were committed to our charge to be sent along with a lock of hair and the last words to the sorrowing ones at home," recalled Maria Hall after the war.  Elizabeth Harris also aided wounded on Smith's farm, just off present-day Mansfield Road. She remembered:
"The first night we slept in our ambulance; no room in the small house, the only dwelling near, could be procured. The next day was the Sabbath. The sun shone brightly; the bees and the birds were joyous and busy; a beautiful landscape spread out before us, and we knew the Lord of the Sabbath looked down upon us. But, with all these above and around us, we could see only our suffering, uncomplaining soldiers, mutilated, bleeding, dying. Almost every hour I witnessed the going out of some young life. No words can describe the wonderful endurance -- not a murmur, not a word of complaint or regret."
In the video above, lifelong Washington County (Md.) resident and historian Richard Clem talks about the site of the former Union hospital where Alexander Gardner shot images in the fall of 1862. Smith's barn and house are long gone, and the privately-owned site is seldom visited by battlefield wanderers today. (Note: In the video, Clem refers to wounded at the Smith farm in the I Corps. He meant II Corps.)

In September 1862, tents for Antietam wounded occupied Otho J. Smith's field.
(Alexander Gardner | Library of Congress)
In this image by Alexander Gardner, 14th Indiana regimental surgeon Anson Hurd tends 
to wounded at the Otho J. Smith farm. (Library of Congress)
   Alexander Gardner shot first image above from approximately upper left of large field.
                                                               (Google Earth)

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Moore, Frank, Women of The War, Their Heroism and Self-Sacrifice, Hartford: S.S. Scranton & Co., 1866.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for connecting the dots and helping us visualize this. It's like stepping back in time.