Bentonville at the Civil War Medicine Conference

Posted on by fobbnc

by: Colby Lipscomb, Chad Jefferds, Fred Claridge

Over the weekend of September 30th-October 2nd, 2022, Bentonville staff members Colby Lipscomb and Chad Jefferds and volunteer Fred Claridge participated in the National Museum of Civil War Medicine’s 28th annual conference. The conference took place across three days and featured several tours of Civil War sites across Maryland and Pennsylvania, including:

  • Conference reception, National Museum of Civil War Medicine open house, and discussion with conservator Sharon Norquest
  • Guided tour of the Elizabeth Ann Seton Shrine in Emmitsburg, MD focusing on the charitable efforts of the Sisters in the aftermath of the several battles in the area
  • Guided tour of the George Spangler Farm and presentation by Ron Kirkwood, author of “Too Much for Human Endurance: The George Spangler Farm Hospitals and the Battle of Gettysburg”
  • Guided tour of the Monocacy Battlefield and Frederick, MD by author Ryan Quint and Jake Wynn

Learn more about the Museum and its programs here:

Colby, Chad, and Fred, with David Price, Director of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. Photo from NMCWM.

Despite lots of rain and dampness, the Conference was an exceptional success as we all learned so much, made great contacts, and thought of some excellent ideas for the future at Bentonville! We want to thank David Price, Joanna Jennings, John Lustrea, and the entire team at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine as well as the presenters for making such an incredible, fun, and educational weekend. We’d also like to express our sincere gratitude to the Friends of Bentonville Battlefield for covering the registration costs of the conference.

Being able to attend the conference and all the activities it offered gave us valuable information on how other Civil War sites incorporate medicine into their narrative, allowing us in turn to come home with heads full of ideas for exciting new ways to present these aspects of Bentonville. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that it was a fun and worthwhile time of professional development. Check out the bottom of the post for more photos from the weekend and read below for some thoughts and final reflections from each of us:

Chad: One of the highlights of the trip was a tour of the Spangler Farm at Gettysburg with author Ron Kirkwood. Seeing another field hospital “in the wild” is always fascinating for us at Bentonville since the Harper House plays such a big role in our narrative. It also gave a new perspective on just how effective the combination of the skilled surgeons and the Letterman Plan was, as 1,900 men were treated at the Spangler Farm and less than 10% died. 

Colby: There’s nothing quite like the energy of coming off such an exciting opportunity! We’ve already created a list of action items as we move forward with all the new ideas. For me, the highlight was getting to meet and interact with the museum staff, presenters, and other conference attendees. All three of us made contacts that I’m sure will prove to be invaluable and we got to meet some really cool and interesting people while doing it! It is so incredible to be surrounded by like-minded people as we tour these hallowed places and discuss their powerful stories.

Fred: I’m a volunteer at the Bentonville Battlefield and recently had the opportunity to attend a conference on Civil War Medicine – a conference hosted by the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Maryland. It’s a real treat to hang out with people who are as interested in the topic as you are. There were a number of presentations, all of which were fascinating. The speakers were all experts in the subject matter they presented. They were also excellent presenters – each of them gifted storytellers who brought the history alive. Being at the actual sites such as the Sisters of Charity complex in Emmitsburg, Maryland and the Spangler Farm, which was used as a field hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg, added to the feeling of “living history.” We also toured medical sites at the Monocacy Battlefield and in downtown Frederick. All in all a thoroughly enjoyable weekend, learning from people who’ve researched the subject of civil war medicine – and enjoy sharing what they’ve learned with others. I can’t wait to go again.

Bentonville representing at the Spangler Farm in Gettysburg, PA
Most of the Conference attendees together at the Spangler barn. Photo from NMCWM
Discussion with conservator Sharon Norquist

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