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tv   American Artifacts  CSPAN  March 28, 2015 10:00am-10:31am EDT

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>> find out where the city tour is going next online at >> each week american artifacts takes viewers and to archives museums, and historic sites around the country. we visit the huge -- visit the national museum of health and medicine to look at items in their civil war collection. some viewers may find images in this program disturbing. mr. clarke: welcome. i'm tim clarke and i'm the museum's deputy director and we are spending time on the civil war medicine exhibit and special other things to show you.
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the national museum of health and medicine was founded in 1862 and known as the army medical museum and the mission was to collect specimens of morbid anatomy and send them to washington to study to improve the care of the soldier. at the time of the civil war the museum's staff were doing the business of lessons learned. they were trying to understand the nature of battlefield medicine, and trauma and share it with their counterparts on the battlefield. this museum and its collection started during the war and in the early days, the museum was housed in the surgeon general's office. the first artifacts were on a shelf and in a building that we know as the riggs bank building near the white house. but wasn't until after the tragic events of the assassination of president
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lincoln that the museum moved into its first long-term residence and moved into fords theater before moving to what became the national mall in a building built in the 1880 that we family call the old red brick in a building that is no longer there, but was in the location where the gallery is today.
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and the museum moved in 1968 from its now former location on the national mall to walter reed army medical center in washington, d.c., where it was housed for years before moving to silver spring, where we are today. the museum today is a museum of 25 million objects. most of those are in five major collections, but the general cyst of that, that collection, the core of the 25 million objects is in civil war medicine and that's the tour that we are about to start today. and so, come along. we are inside our civil war medicine exhibit here at the national museum of health and medicine and starting our visit in front of the skull here of an individual from a particularly renowned african-american regular meant, stood up in 1863. we don't even know the name of this person, but he was a soldier with the 54th massachusetts. called up in boston and took various different actions before arisk at the battlefield of wagner in july of 1863 and this
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soldier would have been with the 54th when they made their initial assault on the evening of july 18, 1863. but you can see that this soldier died instantly from a cannon shot from a 12-pound howitzer fired by confederate forces and was killed on the battlefield. his remains were there and stayed there, weren't buried properly and recovered some 10 12 years after the war and which indicated by the stained brown color of the specimen itself. what's particularly of import here is here is the skull of an african-american soldier who died in service for his country but for viewers and visitors they may recall the movie "glory” that recounts the story of the
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54th massachusetts. and this scuffle from this soldier would have been one of those portrayed in that movie and is in particular interest when visitors come here to the museum. the skull is about bullets, and shrapnel and talk about those objects that caused the injury which was of much concern and interest to the museum at the time as much as the remains and photographs and documentary records and wanted to collect that thing which caused the injury. they collected very other interesting artifacts. the breadth plate belonged to an officer at the battle of gettysburg and he hoped that it might do him some good, but as
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evidenced by the clear bullet holes, right in the center of the breadth plate and down below -- breast plate and down below it failed. we made an effort to do that with this small personal notebook with mounted here and the story behind the notebook is that that notebook and you can see torn at the bottom stopped a bullet. we have several like this in the museum's collection and regularly get calls from persons interested in this type of interesting story. we found of that interest and we thought visitors would like to see it. and so, here it is. along this part of our civil war medicine exhibit, includes numerous examples of the modern surgical kits of the time.
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so, you would see amputation saws and blades and scissors and you would see requisition orders. while the museum was interested in collecting the specimens and the images, they were interested in collecting the business of the military medicine at the time. and we include particularly unique innovation. it is sometimes not well understood about how prevalent anesthesia and pain medication was during the civil war. sometimes considered a myth that someone might bite down on a bullet before having a limb amputated. that was never the case. there was never the case. but one of the concerns was it was hard to deliver this
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somewhat expensive medication into the system. we have something on display by a surgeon who developed this tool which helped to deliver more of the anesthesia further into the nostrils of the patient. and got it quicker into the nervous system. this is a unique tool and you can see it here on display. and where the army medical museum and even on display along this wall are several artifacts by confederate surgeons from the war itself. this small pocket surgical kit it be longed to a woman named mary walker who was a contract soldier during the civil war. she volunteered and was discharged and volunteered again and was discharged, but she
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persisted and was recognized for her commitment and her service as -- and was named the first woman to receive the congressional medal of honor. that was stripped of her some years later. there were differing accounts of her service in the union army. and i would suspect there were some concerns about her gender and some resentment about the role she played. but eventually, took as long -- until the carter administration, the honor was restored back to her. important to note, that mary never returned her medal. she resisted the plea to return the medal. and we remember her commitment and her service by displaying tools she carried when in
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service to the union army back in 1864, right here on display. another element of our civil medicine exhibit is the whole wall of the display case that has been featuring speaks means of each year of the conflict 150 years later. we featured specimens during the battle of gettysburg and in 2015, our exhibit will feature speaks means in the last few months of the civil war and so visitors should look to see that on display when visiting. so as we continue through our civil war medicine exhibit, we come across the story of captain wertz. a p.o.w. camp run by the confederate army and known for its terrible conditions and interred thousands of union soldiers and upon their release,
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the stories came out about the treatments that they underwent while prisoners of war. he was accused of a number of these crimes and claimed that he could not have committed some of those crimes, because of an injury to his right arm. well, wertz was tried and convicted and his claims failed to convince a jury and he was executed. his remains showed no loss of use of any part of his arm disproving the claim he had made during his trial. but also on display are the first and second vertical vertebrae of his neck, showing the effect of his execution. we contrast the actual specimen with the photograph of him just
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.prior to the actual hanging. we offer that here for the public to see. these two artifacts are right near a larger examination of the study of injuries and wounds during the civil war. the museum sent out misses to medical officers and all the major battlefields and all theaters of the war with the instruction to send speaks means from their battlefield hospital to washington. they were instructed to keep detailed notes and instructed to keep with the specimen the object that caused the injury. if you look at some of those on
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display, you will see a mini ball or fragment tasked into the prepared specimens on display. they would come to washington packed in whiskey casks. this is prior to having been cleaned and prepared, packed into the barrels. and where the staff would have taken them out of the barrels, cleaned them, prepared them and mounted them, and this is a good example. not only did they show the structure of the bone, you can see the missing bone but included the shell fragment that caused that injury. another good example, too, of the work that the museum did to follow individual cases is that of major general barnham and this is his hip. and the surgeon healed up the skin injuries, but put through a cord, passed it from barnham from the torso, through the hip and out the back. and you can see it in on photograph. and he reduced the side of that
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cord. the injury drained out the cord and after a number of years, it went from a thick cord down to a small thread and you can see it in this great photograph. all of the work of the army medical museum was eventually coalesced into the signature publication of the late 19th century. the work became known as the medical and history of the rebellion. this is to understand the nature of battlefield medicine at the time of the war, the lessons that were learned. it tabulated the types of injuries, the efforts to repair trauma and disease and documented the work on the battlefield and tracked cases years later after the war. we actually offer part of that
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for the public to see and the effort that was made to understand military medicine at the time of the civil war, that effort was never duplicated in the wars that followed, the spanish-american war. and it's an honor for us to showcase the actual publication itself matched with the carvings, the photographs, the illustrations that comprise that remain in the museum's care today. we are often asked what the long-term benefit, what did we learn, what did we understand about military medicine, about medicine in germany because of the lessons learned during the civil war. medicine after the civil war had a greater understanding about how to deal with huge
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volumes of patients. there was a better understanding of surgical treatment and the rapid need for amputation, a better understanding of infection. the end of the civil war showed a better general understanding of sanitary practices and conditions that would limit or eliminate most infections, but most military officers at the time came out of the war prepared and primed for those lessons that came just some years later at the end of the 19th century. civil war medicine also taught the army, the navy, about medical evacuation. this was a time where it became pretty clear to those involved that removing a patient from the bltfield, returning them to a treatment facility, increased their chances for recovery and returning back to some quality of life. that lesson alone and the
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country found itself involved in the spanish-american war and lessons applied in world war i just 50 years later. the story of dan fickles. he will be a familiar name to many viewers and is this specimen on display is one of the most frequently requested objects by our visitors here at the museum. dan was infamous before the war. his activities during the war elevated his stature, in a sense. and he went on to live a long life amazingly despite the events of the battle of gettysburg. before the civil war, dan fickles, as a congressman, was involved in a duel of sorts with the son of francis scott key.
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francis scott key's son had been engaged in a relationship with fickles' wife and he took issue and called him out on lafayette square. fickles killed key. he made a claim, he claimed that he had become so enraged by learning of this affair, that he had become temporarily insane. the jury was convinced by his argument and he is now known as the first person not being found not guilty by by reason of insanity. he had quite a name in washington circles. after the start of the war, he
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talked his way into a commission and eventually was elevated to commander of the third corps and found himself assigned to play a role in the battle of gettysburg. and a story well recounted by folks who know the gettysburg story well, he was not inclined not to follow orders and led his men ahead of the union line and suffered for it. his men were almost unilaterally slaughtered and dan himself was struck by a cannonball, similar to the one we have on display, struck into his lower right leg, requiring amputation on the battlefield. and we have on display the lower right leg. it took an interesting journey. he was aware as well a his medical officer as the request to collect a specimen of morbid anatomy and required simms, his surgeon, to send it forward and
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the leg was sent in a small box, a coffin of sorts, for -- with compliments, where it was prepared by the museum staff and mounted in the fashion that you see here. but the story goes on. he would even visit the museum on the anniversary of his leg's amputation. and would bring his could hertz and cronies to see the leg on display and there are records of his visit and there is a record of a visit where he asked to see what was left of his foot. he noticed that the leg was displayed and the curator responded to the general general, we didn't preserve that part of the speaks mean because
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just this part showed unique trauma and pathology that we wanted to showcase and he didn't take that too well. so he remains here as a central part of the museum's exhibit on civil war medicine. one of the most frequently asked-for objects on display to the museum here in silver spring. in this part of the exhibit on civil war medicine, we also have on display this bone specimen on the shelf here in front of us the bone belonged to a private kung ma'am, but it's notable because this bone was something that was recounted upon in the story about it by walt whitman. he was a nurse and served in hospitals in the virginia and at some point, the museum staff was able to associate his writings in poems and stories from that time with specimens that were
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held in the collection here at the museum. here's a case we are able to associate a bit of a story from walt whitman with the actual bone of a person he cared for in a hospital during the civil war itself. our final stop today is an exhibit on the assassination of abraham lincoln and features artifacts that were collected during those hours that surgeons were treating him after he was shot at fords theater and during and after his autopsy the next day. you might remember that president lincoln is shot at 10:30 on friday, the 14th of april, 1865. just a few days after lee surrendered to grant at pap mat objection, effectively ending
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the civil war. lincoln is at the play and is shot in the back of the head by john wilkes booth by a small lead bullet and that bullet is on display here and you can see it here in that small glass globe. the bullet was recovered the next day in an autopsy performed at the white house. in the hours after lincoln is shot, the surgeon general, joseph barnes, responds to the president's side. this is at the peterson house directly across the street from the theater. he calls for a probe and mounted that in the back here on display. the idea with the probe is it would be threaded into the wound with the idea depending how far into the wound the probe would go might identify where
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the fragment or bullet was. they weren't able to do so. the bullet, they found later ended up being lodged behind lincoln's right eye. but the probe is part of the exhibit we have here on display. the surgeon general barnes and army medical museum staff john woodward and another surgeon named edward curtis were at the president's bedside in the hours before he died, which was 7:22 the next morning, april 15 1865. it was decided that a post mortem would be performed and the president's body was moved to the white house and the autopsy was performed in a room that is today one of the president's dining rooms in the second floor of the residence. it is during that autopsy that the bullet is recovered.
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the skull would have been removed. the top of the skull would have been removed fl lincoln's head and the stories are that dr. curtis held the skull over a china bowl and made a sound. and according to his notes and the notes of others in the room, there was a pause, a moment of silence and with that sound of the bullet in the china bowl is the only sound making any noise at that exact moment. curtis reflects on it saying this is a lead ball for which we can't yet measure the call hitous effect. and some fragments were retained by surgeons who assisted at the autopsy and in some cases, it
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was stuck on dr. curtis' tools and as he was cleaning the tools, he found a bit of lincoln's skull fragments, stuck in one of the saws. we also have on display a bit of hair removed from the site of the wound. several locks of hair are counted for in the notes in the hours before lincoln died. these are just a few of those that were cut and given away to different people. another object that is on display relates to dr. curtis. a surgeon on the staff of the army medical museum is the assist ants at the autopsy. when he got home that night, the 15th of april after the autopsy, he discovered that his undershirt sleeve cuffs were stained with the blood and mrs. curtis cut those off and put
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them in an envelope and this is one of those two shirt cuffs. just this one is on display. many of these objects had an interesting and diverse history. the bullet was used at the trial of the conspirators. the fragments of bone and hair were in the care and holdings of others for many others and most were collected in the early 1950's by an army museum curator and have been on display for many decades. 2015, will mark the 150th anniversary of the assassination of the president abraham lincoln. we hope you enjoyed the visit and the artifacts to the assassination of president
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lincoln. it is important for us to share these artifacts that convey the lessons and history of military medicine from 150 years ago and that is the inspiration for much of the work that the museum does today to carry on that legacy of military medicine on and we hope you will consider visiting the museum when you are in the washington, d.c., area. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] you can visit -- you can watch this for other american artifacts programs on our website. >> you are watching american history tv, 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitter for
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information on our schedule and upcoming programs, and to keep up with the latest history news. >> this sunday, on q and a erica larson on his new book "dead wake." eric: the story gets complicated when the question arises what happened to lusitania. why was the lusitania allowed to enter the i receive without escort, without the detailed warning that could have been provided to captain william thomas turner, but was not? this has led to some interesting speculation about was the ships set up for attack by churchill or someone in the admiralty? i found no smoking memo. i would have found a smoking memo if it existed. there was nothing from churchill to jackie fisher or some of the else.
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nothing saying let's let the lusitania go into the sea. grandma sunday night, at 8:00 >> next on american history tv, a discussion on the matter -- the last major speeches of president lincoln and martin luther king junior. a few weeks before president lincoln's assassination. martin luther king junior gave his mountaintop speech, the day before his assassination in memphis tennessee. panelists at this event in the washington national cathedral include claiborne carson, senior editor of the king papers and douglas wilson. it's about an hour and a half.


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