Finley Hospital Weekly. Vol. I, No. 2. [with] Finley Hospital Weekly. Vol. I, No. 3.
Finley Hospital Weekly. Vol. I, No. 2. [with] Finley Hospital Weekly. Vol. I, No. 3.

Finley Hospital Weekly. Vol. I, No. 2. [with] Finley Hospital Weekly. Vol. I, No. 3.

Washington, D. C.: Finley General Hospital, January 2, 1864, January 9, 1864. 2 newspapers, 14.5” x 10”. Vol. I, No. 2.: 4 pp.; Vol. I, No. 3: 4 pp. Both mastheads feature an illustration of a printing press.

Two sequential issues, published a week apart, of an exceedingly scarce Civil War hospital newspaper serving as a window into the lives of hospitalized soldiers in the U.S. Capitol.

Of the nineteen known hospital newspapers published in the North and South during or immediately after the Civil War, five of them were published in and around Washington D. C. The earliest D.C.-area hospital paper was the Finley Hospital Weekly, first published in late 1863 at Finley General Hospital. The other four D.C.-area papers were Armory Square Hospital Gazette (to which poet Walt Whitman contributed); Soldiers' Journal; The Cripple; and Reveille. Writing in Specimen Days, Whitman remarked that “During the war, the hospitals at Washington, among other means of amusement, printed a little sheet among themselves, surrounded by wounds and death.” Indeed, these newspapers certainly must have offered welcome diversions to hospitalized soldiers. In addition to their entertainment value, the publications also offered valuable information about life in D.C. during the war. An extract from the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin included in Vol. I, No. 3 notes: “The patients in several of the Army Hospitals in Philadelphia, Washington, and other parts of the country, have from their number selected sufficient editors, compositors and pressman to enable them to publish quite a readable sheet. The latest one issued is the ‘Finley Hospital Weekly,’ the organ of the inmates of Finley Hospital, Washington. … The appearance of the paper betokens success.”

The contents of Vol. I, No. 2 include “Antony & Cleopatra” by Gen. Wm. B. Lytle; a lengthy “Letter from a Soldier”; news on the ongoing war; jokes concerning drunken soldiers, cruelty towards children, etc.; news about presidential campaigns; visitor hours; a racist story, “A Worthy Darky”; a railroad time-table, and more. It is noted that the “next regular meeting of the Printing Committee will be held at the printing office on Thursday evening 7th inst. at half past six o’clock.” The contents of Vol. I, No. 3 include “Who Will Care For Moth Now” by Charles Carroll Sawyer; “Soldier’s Daily Prayer”; hospital news; “The Jester’s Column”; solicitations of contributions; a cruel joke about a “negro boy”; welcoming the return of Dr. Wolhaupter (who accompanied convalescents to Illinois and “barely escaped capture by the ‘Rebs”); a memorial adopted at a meeting of the Acting Asts. Surgeons U.S.A. in Philadelphia on 26 Dec. 1863; a notice for biweekly Singing Classes; an expression of the newspaper’s neutrality in terms of military intelligence, etc. An interesting note indicates that there were newspaper exchanges between hospitals: “We have to acknowledge the receipt of the Armory Square Hospital Gazette. We are happy to place the same upon our list of exchanges, and wish the spicy little sheet all success.” It is further noted that subscriptions “continue to pour in upon us,” and that the present issue is indebted to Hospital Steward F. M. Marshall of Harewood Hospital, who helped raise money for its publication.

Both issues feature word games, a list of general hospitals, and a Finley Hospital staff roster. Two pages of each issue are consist of advertisements for religious services, a local photography company (“What shall I send home? We will answer!”), clothing, cigars, booksellers (such as Shepherd & Riley of D.C.), restaurants, Peruvian Syrup, claims, pensions and bounties, and so on. The Weekly was “published every Saturday.” Subscription rates and costs for advertising are noted.

Finley General Hospital operated from 1862 to 1865 and had over one thousand beds. In 1863, the hospital annexed the adjacent Eckington General Hospital, which opened in 1862 and closed in April 1863. The precise location of Finley General Hospital is unclear. However, several historical documents provide useful pointers, including Vol. I, No. 3, which describes the institution as “located at Kendall Green, north of the Capitol.” In a Dec. 1862 entry in his “Daily Morning Chronicles,” Walt Whitman writes: “That little town, as you might suppose it, off there on the brow of a hill, is indeed a town, but of wounds, sickness, and death. It is Finley Hospital, northeast of the city, on Kendall Green, as it used to be call’d.” In addition, a lithograph depicting the Hospital, Birds Eye View of Finley U.S. Genl. Hospital (ca. 1864) by Charles H. Seymour, shows the hospital in relation to the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument.

OCLC records issues of the Weekly held at Ticonderoga Historical Society (Vol. 1, No. 6; Jan. 30, 1864) and Brown University.

REFERENCES: Lawrence, Susan C., ed., Civil War Washington: History, Place, and Digital Scholarship (University of Nebraska Press: 2015); Lorang, Elizabeth, Kenneth M. Price. Journalism in Washington: The Value of Hospital Newspapers at civilwardc.org.

CONDITION: No. 2 good, no losses to the text, small separations along old folds; No. 3 good, some spotting, wear to margins but no few losses to the text.

Item #6071

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