Whereas Letterman General Hospital was a "tent hospital," hurriedly put up in response to an emergency situation, Mower U.S. Army General Hospital was built to be a permanent structure to care for injured and ill soldiers throughout the war. Named in honor of Dr. Thomas Gardiner Mower, an army surgeon during the war of 1812, the hospital was designed by architect John McArthur, Jr. It opened to patients in January 1863 and closed in May 1865 after the war ended.
ABOVE: Lithograph of exterior of Mower General Hospital.
The mammoth complex lay on 27 acres.in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia and was placed near the Chestnut Hill Station of the Reading Railroad. This facilitated the transportation of patients from the Southern battlefields to the hospital
Commanded by Dr. Andrew Hopkins, the hospital consisted of a central war from which 47 wards were connected like the spokes of a wheel - the idea being to provide patients with light and fresh air. It could accommodate 3,600 patients at a time. The majority of the 20,000 patients treated at Mower over its two years, four months of operation were primarily Union soldiers from the Army of the Potomac
ABOVE: Left: interior corridor. Right: exterior of the corridor surrounding the wards.
Mower was the picture of a modern hospital with conveniences for patients and staff that most people of the time did not have, let alone image, such as flush toilets, plumbing and hot water. It had isolation wards for those who had contagious diseases and infections. There was a laundry to clean sheets and clothing, a cook house to provide meals, a centralized supply area, a company of fire fighters, and a post office. There was even a band to provide music for the patients.
ABOVE: Left: One of the wards (notice the spittoons, (Gotta keep the floor clean!) Right: An administrative office.
This is the place in which my characters Sgt. Patrick McCoy and Capt. Philip Frost will be serving, Capt. Frost as a surgeon and Sgt. McCoy as a steward (a doctor's assistant). If you want to see the place from a patient's point of view, check out A TIME TO HEAL. We'll be looking at the hospital from a surgeon's and/or steward's point of view in THE GOOD COMMUNITY, which should be ready for release this summer.
All photos from the Library Company of Philadelphia. http://librarycompany.org/