Shepherdstown in Jefferson County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)
“The Whole Town was a Hospital”
— Antietam Campaign 1862 —
In September 1862, after the Maryland Battles of South Mountain and Antietam, Shepherdstown became a scene of indescribable suffering. “The whole town was a hospital,” wrote resident Mary Bedinger Mitchell. “There was scarcely a building in town that could not with truth seek protection under that plea.”
The wounded Confederates streaming into Shepherdstown after the South Mountain actions of September 14 became a flood totaling 2,000–3,000 by the 18th, the day after Antietam. Soon even places normally deemed unfit for human habitation were turned into hospitals. They included the old abandoned tobacco warehouse at the north end of Princess Street and the incomplete town hall, now Shepherd University’s McMurran Hall, in front of you. Mary Mitchell wrote, “The unfinished Town Hall had stood in naked ugliness for many a long day. Somebody threw a few rough boards across the beams, placed piles of straw over them, laid down single planks to walk upon, and lo it was a hospital at once.”
Shepherdstown experienced the passing of armies for another two and a half years, but the events of
"The wounded continued to arrive until the town was quite unable to hold all the disabled and suffering. They filled every building and overflowed into the country round, into farm-houses, barns, corn-cribs, cabins,—wherever four walls and a roof were found together....There were six churches, and they were all full; the Odd Fellow’s Hall, the Freemasons’, the little Town Council Room, the barn-like place known as the Drill Room, all the private houses after their capacity, the shops and empty buildings, the school houses,—every inch of space and yet the cry was for more room.”
—Mary Bedinger Mitchell
Erected by West Virginia Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Science & Medicine • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the West Virginia Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical month for this entry is September 1862.
Location. 39° 25.852′ N, 77° 48.342′ W. Marker is in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, in Jefferson County. Marker is at the intersection of German Street (West Virginia Route 230) and King Street (West Virginia Route 480), on the right when traveling west on German Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Shepherdstown WV 25443, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. 1862 Antietam Campaign (here, next to this marker); Shepherd State Teachers College (here, next to this marker); War Memorial (a few steps from this marker); American Revolutionary War Memorial (a few steps from this marker); R.D. Shepherds Town Hall (a few steps from this marker); Pack Horse Ford Chapter, D.A.R. (a few steps from this marker); Moulder Hall (within shouting distance of this marker); McMurran Hall (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Shepherdstown.
More about this marker. The Marker features an 1800s picture of Shepherdstown, in particular what appears to be the Trinity Episcopal Church on West German Street.
Credits. This page was last revised on March 16, 2021. It was originally submitted on July 31, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,025 times since then and 15 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on October 12, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 2, 3, 4. submitted on July 31, 2007, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 5. submitted on March 15, 2021, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page.