The Dig

The Dig

Civil War

During the Civil War, Maryland was a border state between the North and South, and many battles were staged here. What is often overlooked, however, are the stories of those not engaged in the fighting itself.

As Jake Wynn, Program Coordinator for the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Maryland, explains, the sheer number of patients during the Civil War necessitated rapid innovation for medical practitioners. Prior to the conflict, there were no modern hospitals or ambulances. The War laid the groundwork for these developments. Additionally, an increase in medical specialization became feasible, as caretakers gained a depth and breadth of experience.

For a period of time, Clara Barton was one such caretaker. As Amelia Grabowski, also of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, explains, Barton began helping on the battlefield around Antietam. Prior to the war, Clara Barton lived and worked in Washington, D.C. She eventually performed a different type of care for servicemen, as her residence became the base for her Missing Soldiers Office. Utilizing only postal mail, her social networks, and occasional newspaper postings, Barton was able to locate around 20,000 soldiers.

An even less-discussed but often ubiquitous accompaniment to military encampments, the figure of the prostitute was also on the periphery of the Civil War. Grabowski details some of the policies and places involved, explaining that this work was even legalized for a time in Memphis and other locations.

Prostitution

Different roles for women during the Civil War.

Medicine

Civil War medical innovations

Clara Barton

Clara Barton's numerous contributions

For more information, please visit: http://www.civilwarmed.org

Photos courtesy of: National Archives, Library of Congress, Maryland State Archives, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Newberry Library

Video courtesy of: National Museum of the American Indian Site Excavation Artifacts Collection, Historical Society of Washington, D.C. and National Museum of the American Indian Site Excavation Artifacts Collection, Historical Society of Washington, D.C.

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The Dig: Civil War