Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas, 1864


On Christmas Day in 1864, a special dinner was served to the 4,500 Union soldiers housed at Satterlee General Hospital, then the largest army hospital in the country. Satterlee was located in Philadelphia between 40th and 44th Streets, near Baltimore Avenue, in a sparsely-developed area about a half mile west of the Schuylkill River. The sprawling 15-acre facility comprised rows of wood-frame wards and hundreds of tents, as well as a library, a reading room, and a printing shop that probably produced this menu card with an illustration of the hospital on the back. The holiday dinner shown below was provided by Dr. and Mrs. Milton Egbert, whose farm in northwestern Pennsylvania was luckily situated in the center of the nation’s first oil-producing region. In 1859, the early wells yielded only a few thousand barrels, but oil production quickly ramped up during the Civil War, making the Egberts immensely wealthy. At the time, it was said that no parcel of land in the United States of equal size had yielded a larger financial return than their farm on Oil Creek. 

Saterlee was closed after the war ended in 1865. During its four-year existence, more than 50,000 wounded soldiers were treated at the hospital, where a remarkable record was achieved in saving lives. Thirty years later, the lower portion of the grounds was turned into Clark Park, a municipal green that now hosts Philadelphia’s largest year-round farmers’ market. 

1 comment:

deana sidney said...

Have a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. How nice that the farmer's new found wealth found a good cause and paid for the hungry soldiers to have a good Christmas dinner. That's quite a menu.