Baptists and the American Civil War: September 15, 1865

Civil War Hospital

Civil War Hospital

In Worcester, Massachusetts, a Baptist legacy enables the saving of lives … on earth.

The year 1845 witnessed the establishment of the first sectarian medical school in New England. The New England Botanico-Medical College, also known as the Eclectic Medical College, began in temporary quarters until in 1852 a permanent building was erected on Union Hill overlooking the city. Between then and the war, ownership changed hands twice, the second transaction taking the institute out of Baptist hands and forming what became known as the General Hospital of Worcester.

Operational during the war, the hospital was one of many that collectively advanced medical knowledge by operating on severely wounded and ill soldiers, utilizing new techniques.

Unlike some Union hospitals, however, General of Worcester was integrated, as the records of a surgery performed this day to remove an embeded minie ball testify. The procedure, apparently successful, is performed on I. Pernell, Company K, 6th Colored Troops.

One other known surgery on an African American soldier also took place on George Hays of Company F, 54th Massachusetts Infantry Volunteers, in the form of an arm amputation.

All told, Baptists North and South contribute significantly to the efforts of their respective armies in the utilization of hundreds of church buildings for temporary hospitals during the war.

Sources: Sande P. Bishop, “Dale Hospital—A Civil War Hospital With Community Support” (link)