MOWER CIVIL WAR HOSPITAL
**************************************************************** NEW NOTE:the ADMISSIONS OFFICE of MOWER HOSPITAL, identified in etchings of the Hospital, and is presently a private residence in Chestnut Hill on DEVON ST near the BACCI CLUB.------WILLIAM LEONARD SIMMONS was a CONTRACT SURGEON who treated Confederate Prisoners at Mower Hospital. He was captured by Union forces in FLA and took the Union oath of allegiance.------------------------------------------
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More casualties occurred in any conflict engaged in by the United States. At the beginning of the War
the state of medicine was very primitive in both the North and South.Sanitary conditions were appalling. Anesthesia,however was known and used.Weapons as always, continued to 'improve'.The destructive power of the new weapons such as the Minie ball(similar to dum-dum bullets),resulted in permanent injury to limb and bone
and frequently necessitated amputation.The rifled musket and later the rifle resulted in more killing power at greater distances.
The US Sanitary Commission(USSC) composed of organized civilians, began a reform of sanitation and care of the wounded.Interestingly,Frederick Law Olmstead of New York Central Park fame, was the Executive Director of the USSC during most of the War.
The Sugeon's General Office of the US Army also began
to reform hospitals for long-term treatment. John MacArthur,Jr.the designer of Philadelphia City Hall,laid out plans for Mower Hospital and 24 other new-style army hospitals.Andrew Hopkins MD(related to a signer of the Declaration of Independence), was the first Surgeon General of Mower Hospital. He died of typhoid fever at the end of the War. Mower hospital was named for Thomas Mower,an early Army surgeon.It was originally known as Chestnut Hill Hospital.
The Hospital was one of the largest and most innovative of Union hospitals and was known as a pavillion hospital.Its design
could limit the spread of infection by sealing off wards and centered on an administrative area with barracks,dining
halls,surgeries,kitchens,mortuary,etc.Wards radiated out
as spokes on a wheel with about 50-100 beds per/ward.
The hospital was built along an existing rail-line(RR). Patients were brought directly from the battlefield by train using special cars converted from wagon lits.This terrible journey was known as the "seven circles of hell to heaven on earth"; a journey lasting days or even weeks.The RR also carried families of the patients,hospital workers and volunteers;nearly 3,000 persons/week.
A patient William Ulsh(Ulch)wrote a poem which described the functioning of the Hospital. Pvt.Ulsh enlisted at Carlilse,PA.and was wounded in the left thigh at Spotsylvania,VA with continuing disability.
An existing freshwater supply of the Chestnut Hill Water Company was used;the stone Water Tower on Ardleigh St. still stands today.
Mower hospital occupied a tract of 27 acres(from County Line[Stenton Ave]to the Railroad Springfield Ave to Abington Ave}
and was built on the highest level point in Philadephia.
The Hospital was laid out logically;
Patients arrived by train and were assigned to one of 50 wards radiating out
from a central corridor.Tramways extended
in the wards to bring medical supplies and food in little carts
with flanged wheels(a valid description of the Hospital is given in a poem by Wm. Ulsh(see above). The Hospital contained butcher shops,a guard house,the chapel/library with 2400 volumes;operating theater;the dead-house;etc. One marvels at all the conveniences: gas lighting,indoor plumbing,constant hot water,ventilation;etc
The Hospital opened on 17Jan'63 in time for every major battle of the War including Gettysburg.
Sgt Levi McCormick of COMPANY E 4th Deleware Infantry fought at the battle of Weldon-Petersburg RR said "I was wounded and shot through my right arm by a minni ball. The bone was not broke and therefore I shall save my arm."He was treated at two field hospitals and then at Mower Hosital in Chestnut Hill, PA until November 1864.The minni ball was stll in his arm when he died in 1906.
OUTCOME OF CARE (see Biblography#7)
RETURNED TO DUTY 9799
Although the true concept of infection was just beginning to be
understood,Mower Hospital was remarkably clean. Fresh pure water
was used throughout the Hospital including frequent and periodic flushing of the toilets,discharge of wastes into a creek(probably
Cresheim),some distance away. Infections could be contained by 50 bed ward-spoke design.
Interestingly, a model of Mower Hospital was developed for the Philadelphia Bicentennial and stored someplace in the Smithsonian Institute.
Mower Hospital,the Army Medical Department and the US Sanitary Commision became major advances in the treatment of war wounds
and disease.The medical records of the Civil War have proven of great value to the progress of medicine.
--TEXT OF MARKER---
Described as the largest U.S. Army hospital of its day:designed by the noted architect John McArthur,Jr.Here wounded Civil War soldiers were cared for Jan.1863-May 1865. On 27 acres extending to Stenton Ave. It had some 3600 beds and treated over 20,000 patients. Razed following the War.
1.Contosta,D. Suburb in the City Chestnut Hill,Philadelphia 1850-1990' Ohio State Univ Press Columbus,1992 pg 65-67
2.JD. Thompson & G.Gracie The Hospital:A Social and Architechtural History',Yale Univ Press 1975 pg.171-17.
3.MC.Gillette 'The Army Medical Dept.1818-1865' Center Military Hist. US Army Washington,DC.1987.
4.C.K.Wilbur 'Civil War Medicine 1861-65' GlobePequot Press 1998
5.S.P.Beller 'Medical Practices in the Civil War' Our Story Press 1992.
6.AJ Bollet 'Civil War Medicine:Challenges and Triumphs'Galen Press Tucson,AZ 2002 pgs217-227
7.E.W. Hocker 'Germantown 1683-1933' Germantown 1933,231-240
8.S.P.Sher Mower Hospital Germantown Crier 50(2):74-77,2000 for complete references.
9. Mower United Sates Army General Hospital:Chestnut Hill,PA Rules and Special Orders Philadelphia,PA Lippincott Co.1865
Sanford Sher is a resident of Chestnut Hill, and has been interested in the Civil War for a number of years. He helped obtain the PENNSYLVANIA State Historic Marker for MOWER HOSPITAL. Most of the research for this website was done on the INTERNET and at archives of local historic societies.