Washington, DC: ‘That Little Town…of wounds, sickness, and death’
At least 56 separate facilities in Washington, D.C., were used as hospitals at some time over the course of the Civil War. One of those hospitals was Finley Hospital, which operated from 1862 to 1865. This photograph of the stables at Finley Hospital includes a non-commissioned officer. It was taken, most likely as part of a series, by Washington, D.C. photographers William Morris Smith and Samuel Mills. During the latter part of the war, Mills enlisted in the Union Army as a hospital steward. Known as Camp Sprague during its first month, Finley general hospital was located in wooden barracks. It was originally the regimental camp of the First Rhode Island Cavalry. When Walt Whitman arrived in the city in December 1862 to help with the war wounded, he was amazed and overcome by the massive hospital system. “That little town, as you might suppose it, off there on the brow of a hill, is indeed a town, but of wounds, sickness, and death. It is Finley Hospital, northeast of the city, on Kendall Green, as it used to be call'd. That other is Campbell Hospital. Both are large establishments. I have known these two alone to have from two thousand to twenty-five hundred inmates.”
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