Civil War Medicine: The Complete Story
Discover the astonishing story of Civil War medicine by visiting all three of our sites. From stories of personal sacrifice to tales of life-saving innovation, what you discover at each location will amaze you.
Begin your day at the Pry House Field Hospital Museum on Antietam National Battlefield to encounter an excellent case study of Civil War medicine in action. The barn on the Pry property was used as a field hospital after the Battle of Antietam — the bloodiest day of the American Civil War. Between 400 and 700 soldiers were treated there following the battle. Today you can go inside to see a reproduction ambulance and discover what conditions would have been like for those treated there.
From the Pry Barn, be sure to visit the adjacent Pry House which was used as the headquarters for both Union General George B. McClellan and Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac, Jonathan Letterman during the Battle of Antietam. It was from the Pry House that Jonathan Letterman orchestrated the new Letterman System. For the first time in American military history a system was put in place to give wounded soldiers the medical care they needed from the moment they were wounded through long term recovery, making the Battle of Antietam a turning point in American medical history.
After the Pry House, travel to Frederick, Maryland — the same place wounded soldiers from Antietam were sent to recover. A visit to the National Museum of Civil War Medicine will not only help you discover the whole history of Civil War medicine and how it continues to impact and inspire medical leaders today (in two floors and 8,000 square feet of exhibits), but it can provide you with a map to visit Frederick’s many Civil War hospital sites which opened after the Battles of South Mountain and Antietam in 1862.
While in Frederick, explore downtown area and have lunch in one of the city’s award-winning eateries, before heading to our nation’s capital: Washington, DC.
In Washington, DC, visit the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Museum. Recently rediscovered, the boarding house rooms where Clara Barton lived and worked during the Civil War were her home base when she braved the battlefield as a first responder. After the war, the same space served as the headquarters for her Missing Soldiers Office which organized the search for over 60,000 missing Union soldiers. The restored space feels like Barton just left yesterday and provides an unparalleled encounter with the past.
As you plan your trip, be sure to check the operating hours of our three locations to make sure you can visit all three sites. To get free admission to each site, you might consider a museum membership.