Thursday, December 23, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 23

Hammond General Hospital
Point Lookout, Md.
December 23rd, 1862

Dear Doctor,

Your letter requesting me to preserve specimens for the Museum has been rec'd. I received last week eleven hundred wounded, I have already performed a number of interesting operations, resections, amputations etc[?] - I have more in prospect - the specimens in each case has been preserved- I intend keeping them until the results in each case is known. I would suggest that yyou have a circular issued giving us instructions as to the manner of preparing them whether wet or dry - rest assured I will do all in my power to enrich you collection.

Very truly,
Yours, &c.,

C. Wagner
Asst. Surg., U.S.A.

[To] Dr. J. H. Brinton
See above

Contextual Note: Hammond General Hospital was built in 1862 to care for Union soldiers wounded during the Civil War. It was built on the site of the Point Lookout lighthouse, which was constructed in 1825 to warn ships away from the shoals and mark the entrance of the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. A few months after today’s letter was written, the first Confederate prisoners were assigned to the hospital and its ground were expanded, transforming the site into Camp Hoffman, the largest prison camp of the Civil War. Conditions in the camp were terrible and by 1864 the prison, with an original capacity of 10,000, had a population that exceeded 20,000 men. The suffering of the prisoners, primarily enlisted men, was terrible as the ground became filthy, the wells became contaminated and inadequate tents and blankets caused death from exposure. By the end of the war between 3,000 and 8,000 men had died at the camp and were buried on the lighthouse grounds.

The terrible conditions of Camp Hoffman are still felt today. Point Lookout State Park now encompasses the camp and lighthouse , which is considered to be the “most haunted” lighthouse in America. The Point Lookout Lighthouse Preservation Society holds nighttime "paranormal investigations" to raise funds for preservation and restoration activities and the site has been featured on segments of Mystery Hunters, Weird Travels and Haunted Lighthouses.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Point Lookout Lighthouse Preservation Society, Maryland Online Encyclopedia, Lighthouse Friends

1 comment:

Mike Rhode said...

Excellent context, Laura!