Widespread mobilization of troops precipitated an influx of enteric and respiratory diseases, and soldiers who were sent home from the battlefield to recuperate often spread infectious diseases along their way. Between 1820 and 1875 the populations of all large American cities suffered outbreaks of smallpox, cholera, and typhoid fever.
The United States Sanitary Commission (USSC) was a volunteer agency run under government auspices that sought to ensure the health and safety of Union Army soldiers during the American Civil War. It also collected donations of clothing, blankets, food, and medical supplies for military personnel, trained volunteer nurses, and ran a service that located lost or missing soldiers on behalf of their families.
To the men who survived the conflict, hospitals presented a gruesome compendium of the horrors of the war, second only to the sight of torn, bloated, lifeless bodies on the field of battle. Yet the field hospital's staff, medicines, facilities, and surgeons were the only hope desperately wounded men had to save life and limb.
The National Museum of Civil War Medicine is the premier center for the preservation and research of the legacy of Civil War Medical innovation and humanitarianism. As a living institution, we utilize artifacts, storytelling and the historic lessons derived from that era to educate the public and define the impact on today’s society.
The Battle of Antietam remains the bloodiest single day of fighting in American military history. On this day in 1862, nearly 23,000 of the 131,000 Union and Confederate soldiers assembled in Sharpsburg, Maryland, were killed.