St. George’s Episcopal’s Docents are pleased to present a “double-header” Civil War history event on August 10, 2017. “Fredericksburg: City of Hospitals” will feature a medical reenactment in Sydnor Hall (which served as a Civil War hospital in 1862) at 6 p.m. with Dr. Jon Willen, followed by a lecture on medicine during the Civil War by John J. Hennessy, upstairs in the church nave (which served as a Civil War hospital in 1864). The evening promises to provide the audience a realistic view of how medicine was practiced at the time the Civil War and how it played out in Fredericksburg in several locations.
Hennessey, who is chief historian for the National Park Service in Fredericksburg, wrote about Fredericksburg’s hospitals in an April, 2016 Free Lance-Star article – “Mercy Street? How about Mercy Town? Fredericksburg as the ‘City of Hospitals’”. He wrote: “The recent PBS series ‘Mercy Street’ focused America’s attention on the experience of the sick and wounded of the Civil War and those who cared for them. In May 1864, Fredericksburg experienced something that dwarfed the experience of distant general hospitals like the one portrayed in ‘Mercy Street.’ For two weeks, Fredericksburg became famous across the nation as ‘The City of Hospitals.’”
Dr. Jon Willen is a retired infectious disease specialist currently residing in Washington, DC. He received his medical degree from Wake Forest University School of Medicine and completed an internship and residency in Internal Medicine at the George Washington University Medical Center. He has been a docent at the Clara Barton Office of Missing Soldiers, a member of the speakers Bureau of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, a member and Board member of the Society of Civil War surgeons. He has been researching a book on Dr. Charles Leale, the first physician to attend to President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre on the night of his assassination on April 14, 1865. Also in connection with Lincoln he is a board member and Vice President for Education and Outreach of the Lincoln Group of D.C.
In addition to being the NPS historian, John Hennessey is a popular lecturer and writer. He began his career with the National Park Service in Manassas and is the author of The First Battle of Manassas: An End to Innocence, July 18-21, 1861 and Return to Bull Run, about the battle of Second Manassas. John is noted for helping to bring the National Park into social media, particularly with the blogs he manages.