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tv   American Artifacts  CSPAN  August 26, 2015 9:17pm-9:47pm EDT

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independence hall. john adams wrote to abigail adams describing the scene, he said they looked great, they were very spry as they marched, though not all in step and he thought they needed work to look as professional as he thought they should but he was very buoyed at the sight of seeing this vast army marching through philadelphia. pretty much like the fellows in the painting are doing. of course, about a month later almost to the day the british army marches down that same street and occupies philadelphia. so this was one of those many, many dark days of the american revolution. so washington's army marches into valley forge and this was one of the winterings, as she did ever winter through the eight years of the war, that martha washington joined general washingt washington. in many ways one of the rarest objects in the collection that i'll share with you now.
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this is a volume that was owned by martha washington. it is a -- you can see her signature "m. washington." and it's an early edition printed in england. it was known as a help and guide to christian families published in london in 1752. so quite likely a book she may well, you can imagine, have taken along with her to camp to spend the winter at valley forge. the top of the page is missing, almost certainly it was clipped by an autograph collector in the 19th century, presumably her name would have been written out there as well and it was probably clipped by a collector. and if any viewers have that in your collection, we would love to reunite the book and the autograph. but there is her signature, martha washington. so it's entirely possible to
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imagine that that's a book that spent the winter at valley forge along with the general and his suffering soldiers. a few other objects, again, an object that quite likely was also used in valley forge, the soldier's canteen. it seems like a fairly mundane object but there's really probably about half a dozen canteens that have survived from the revolution with this surcharge, which tells us that -- the state's surcharge which tells us this was the property of the continental army that was actually marked. there's an order that came out midway through the war because so much of the material they were having trouble keeping track. soldiers would be discharge and take their gear home and, of course, perennially short on supplies. there was an effort by marking weapons and accoutrements and things like canteens that they
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could try to get a better handle on keeping on that material. >> one of the great treasures in our collection is a simple modest little flag, blue background, that bears 13 stars and it was general washington's personal standard. so it really signified his presence. when you saw that flag, you knew general washington was in command. and it's incredible that it has survived. so few flags from the revolution have. it kaem came to us from a desce of general washington's sister betty. her son was an officer in what's called the lifeguard. these were the men and officers personally assigned to general washington and had the responsibility of ensuring his safety. so it's a wonderful object directly from the washington family that, again, reflects his
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command, his leadership of the continental army during revolution. the museum will be located in the very heart of philadelphia's historic area. the national park service agreed with the importance of this museum and gave up ownership of part of independence park just so this museum could be built within two blocks of independence hall so every visitor who comes to discover the birthplace of america will now have an opportunity to learn the larger context, the story of the american revolution and how that independence and liberty was achieved. at this point, construction is in full swing. our contractor haas finished pouring the foundations for the building and we'll start putting up steel in another month. we are right on schedule to open the museum in early 2017. >> that was the first of two-part look at the collections
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of the museum of the american revolution. in part two, we'll see a part of george washington's camp tent from the revolutionary war. this sunday night on q&a p brookings institution senior fellow vanda felbab-brown talks about achievements in afghanistan. >> well, it depends on how it ends and here is where i hesitate and where i increasingly interrogate myself and question myself. we don't know how it will end and i think that's a moment of opportunity if we withdraw now that moment may end and things may collapse but it's also possibility that five years now the war we'll be back in a new civil war in afghanistan. isis is slowly emerging in the country, terrifying prospect that that is. much worse than the taliban. the taliban is deeply entrenched
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and hardly defeat sod if we end up five years now the road in new civil war in afghanistan and new safe havens for the taliban and isis, i would say it was not worth the price. vanda felbab-brown on c-span's q&a. american history tv continues now with more from our series "american artifacts." next, a look at the civil war's medical history from a collection at maryland's national museum of health and medicine. later, we go inside the assembly room of independence hall to understand its history in the signing of the declaration of independen independence. each week, american artifacts takes viewers into archive, museums and historic sites around the country. next we visit the national museum of health and medicine
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just outside washington, d.c. to look at items in their civil war collection. please note, some viewers may find images in this program disturbin disturbing. >> welcome to the national museum of health and medicine. my name is tim clark and i'm the museum's deputy director. we're here to spend a little time on a visit to the museum's civil war medicine exhibit and a special couple of other things to show you. the national museum of health and medicine was founded in 1862 but we were known as army medical museum. the mission at the time was to collect spes michl cimens of mo anatomy and send them to washington for study to improve the care of the soldier. at the time of the civil war, the museum staff were doing the business of lessons learned. they were trying to understand the nature of battlefield surgery and medicine and trauma and their shows lessons with their colleagues and
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counterparts on the battlefield. this museum and its collection started during the war and in the early days the museum was housed at the surgeon general's office. the first few museum artifacts were on a shelf behind the surgeon general's desk. then the building we know as the riggs-bank building near the white house. but it wasn't until after the tragic events of the assassination of president abraham lincoln in 1856 that the museum moved into its first long term residence. they moved into ford's theater y where they stayed for about 20 years before moving to what became the national mall and a building built in the 1880s that we familiarly call the old red brick in a building that is now no longer there but was in the location where the hearse horn gallery is today and the museum
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moved in 1968 from its now former location on the national mall to walter reed army medical center in washington, d.c. where it was housed for about 30 years before moving to its new home in silver spring where we are today. the museum today is a museum of 25 million objects. most of those are in five major collections, but the genesis of that collection, the core of the 25 million objects, is in civil war medicine. that's the tour we're about to start today. so come along. we are inside our civil war medicine exhibit here at the national museum of health and medicine and we're starting our visit in front of the skull here of an individual with from a particularly renown
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african-american regiment stood up in 1863. we don't even know the name of this person but he was a soldier with the 54th massachusetts called up in boston and took various different actions before arriving at the battle of battery wagner in july of 1863 and this soldier would have been with the 54th when they made their initial assault on the evening of july 18, 1863. you can see that this soldier died instantly from a cannon not have a 12 pound howitzer fired by confederate forces marshalled inside battery wagner and was killed on the battlefield. his remains, actually, remained -- were there and stayed there, weren't buried properly and he was recovered
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some 10 or 12 years after the war which is indicated by the stained brown color of the specimen itself. what's particularly of import here is here is the skull of an african-american union soldier who died in service to his country but for viewers and visitors the museum, they may recall the movie "glory" with matthew broderick and denzel washington that recounts the story of the 54th massachusetts and this skull from this soldier would have been one of those characters portrayed in that movie and is of particular interest when visitors come here to the museum. the skull is near an exhibit about fragments and bullets and shrapnel where we're able to talk about those objects that caused the injury which was of much concern and interest to the curators of the army medical museum at the time as much as the skeletal remains and
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photographs and documentary records. they wanted to collect that thing that caused the injury but they also collected very interesting other artifacts like this breast plate mounted here. the breast plate belonged to a confederate officer who wore this on the battlefield at the battle of gettysburg in july of 1863. he probably hoped that this breast plate might do him some good but, as evidenced by the clear bullet holes right in the center of the breast plate and then down below, this officer was killed. the breast plate failed. but we made an effort to contrast that iron breast plate which failed to save an officer with this small personal notebook mounted here and the story behind the notebook is such that that notebook -- and you can sort of see torn at the bottom -- stopped a bullet. we actually have several artifacts like this in the museum's collection and regularly get calls from persons
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interested in this type of interesting story. so we found that of interest and we thought viz torsz would like to see it. along this part of our civil war medicine exhibit includes numerous examples of the modern surgical kits of the time. so you would see amputation saws and scalpels and blades and scissors of all manners and types, but you would also see requisition orders because while the museum was interested in collecting the anatomical specimens and the medical documentary images, they were also interested in collects the business of military medicine at the time. some of those are included in this part of the exhibit. we also include a particularly unique innovation. it is sometimes not well
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understood about how prevalent anesthesia and pain medication was during the time of the civil war. sometimes sort of considered a myth that somebody might just bite on a bullet before having a limb amputated due to a traumatic injury. that was never really the case. there was pain medicine, either and anesthesia was available but one of the concerns was that it was hard to deliver this somewhat expensive medication into the system. we have on display something by a surgeon, a confederate surgeon named julian chisholm who developed this tool which helped to deliver more of the anesthesia further into the nostrils of the patient so it limited how much anesthesia was limit and it got it quicker into the nervous system. this is a particularly neat tool and you can see it here on display at the museum. it's also interesting, we're the army medical museum, founded by the union army but on display along this wall are several artifacts from confederate
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surgeoned from the war itself but the other object of note here is this small pocket surgical kit. it belonged to a woman named mary walker who was a contract surge within the union army during the civil war. she volunteered and then was discharged and volunteered again and was discharge d but remarkably she persisted and was recognized for her commitment and service and was named the first woman to receive the congressional medal of honor. unfortunately, that award was eventually then stripped of her some years later. there are differing accounts of her service in the union army and i would suspect there were some concerns about her gender and some resentment about the role that she played but eventually, it took as long
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until the carter administration, the honor was restored back to mary. it's important to note, though, mary never returned her medal. she resisted the plea to return the medal and retained that to her death. and we remember her commitment and her service by displaying tools she carried when in service to the union army back in 1864 right here on display. another element of our civil war medicine exhibit is a whole wall of the display case that has been featuring artifacts and images and specimens from each year of the conflict 150 years later. so we featured artifacts and specimens from the battle of gettysburg during the year 2013 and the another battle in 2014 and in 2015 our exhibit will feature artifacts and specimens in those last few months of the civil war and so visitors should look to see that on display when they visit.
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so as we continue through our civil war medicine exhibit we come across the story of captain henry wertz. wertz is known for his infamous role as the commander of the andersonville prison. a p.o.w. camp run by the confederate army and known for its terrible conditions. interred thousands of union soldiers and upon their release the stories came out about the treatment that they were -- that they underwent while prisoners of war at the andersonville prison. wirz himself was accused of a number of these crimes and claims he could not have committed those crimes because of an injury to his right arm. wirz was tried, convicted, his claims failed to convince a jury and he was executed for his crimes. after his execution, an examination of his army -- which we have in that jar right
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there -- showed no loss of use of any heart of his arm, disproving the claim he made during his trial. but also on display are the virs and second cervical vertebrae of wirz's neck, showing the effect of his execution. so we contrast the actual anatomical specimen with a photograph of wirz just prior to the actual hanging. so we offer that here for the public to see. these two artifacts are right near a larger examination of the studies of injuries and wounds during the civil war. the army medical museum sent out missives to medical officers at all the major battlefields in all the major units in all theaters of the war with the instruction to send specimens from their battlefield hospital to washington. they are truinstructed to keep
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careful detailed notes and keep with the specimen the object that caused the injury. so as you look at some of the objects and specimens on display, you'll see a mini ball or fragment tacked into the prepared specimen that's on display. sometimes the specimens would come to washington packed in whiskey casks, huge barrels full of alcohol with the specimens. this is prior to having been defleshed and cleaned and prepared, packed into the barrels for their arrival at the army medical museum's offices wherever those might have been in washington where the staff would have taken them out of the barrels, cleaned them, prepared them, mounted them and this is a good example. not only did they show the structure of the bone, you can see the missing bone, but they included the shell fragment itself that caused the injury. another good example, though, too, of the work the museum did to follow individual cases is
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that of major general barnum. and this is his hip. er be numb was injured in a gunshot wound that passed through bone and the surgeon healed up the skin injuries but put through a cord. passed it from barnum's front of his torso through the hip and out the back. and you can see that in a photograph that we have on display. and over the rest of his life, barnum ever once in a while reduced the size of that cord. the injury drained out the cord and after a number of years it went from a thick cord down to just a small thread and you can see that as i said in this great photograph. all of the work of the army medical museum was eventually coalesced into the signature publication of the late 19th century, the work of the army medical museum became known as the medical and surgical history of the war of the rebellion. this is the iconic effort to
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understand the nature of battlefield medicine at the time of the war, the lessons that were learned. it tabulate it had types and natures of injuries, the efforts made to repair trauma and disease and documented the work of the -- on the battlefield and tracked cases years after the war. we offer part of the medical and surgical history of the war of the rebellion on display for the public to see. and the effort that was made to understand military medicine at the time of the civil war, that effort was never really capably duplicated in the cars that followed, the spanish american war or the wars of the 20th century. it's an honor for us to present and showcase the actual publication itself matched with the wood etchings, the carvings, the photograph, the illustrations that comprise it. all that remain in the museum's care today. we're often asked what the long
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term benefit -- what did we learn? what did we understand about military medicine, about medicine in general because of the lessons learned during the civil war? medicine after the civil war had a grander understanding about how to deal with huge volumes of patients. there was a better understanding of surgical treatment and the rapid need for amputation. a better understanding of infection. at the end of the civil war, it was still prior to a better general understanding of sanitary practice or condition that would eliminate most infections but military medical officers at the time came out of the war prepared and primed for those lessons that came just some years later at the end of the 19th century. civil war medicine also taught the military, the army, the navy, about medical evacuation. this was a time where it became pretty clear to those involved
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that removing a patient from the battlefield, turning them a properly outfitted treatment facility increased their chances for recovery and for returning back to some quality of life. that lesson alone had great impact and effect as the country found itself involved in the conflict of the spanish american war and were lessons that were applied in world war i just 550 years later. we come to the story of dan sickles here in part of our civil war medicine exhibit. dan sickles will be a familiar name to many viewers and is this specimen on display is one of the most frequently requested objects by our visitors here at the museum. dan sickles was infamous before the war. his activities during the war elevated his stature in a sense
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and he went on to live a long life amazingly despite the events at the battle of gettysburg which i can tell you a little bit more about. before the civil war, dan sickles as a congressman was involved in a duel, of sorts, with the son of francis scott key. francis scott key's son, phillip barton key, had been engaged in a relation shipp with sickship theresa and sicks took issue with the affair and called key out on lafayette square and challenged key to a dual. sickles killed key and was put on trial. sickles, though, made an interesting claim. the first of its kind in the country. he claimed he'd become so enraged by learning of this affair that he had become temporarily insane. the jury was convinced by sic e
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sickles' argument and he's now known the first person found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. this is some years before the civil war but sickles was already quite a name in washington circles. sickles after the start of the war talked his way into a mission and eventually was elevated to commander of the third corps and found himself assigned toplay a role at the battle of gettysburg. it's story that's well recounted by folks who know the gettysburg story well. sickles was not inclined to follow orders and led his men ahead of the union line and suffered for it. his men were almost unilaterally slaughtered in the peach orchard that day and sickles himself was struck by a cannon ball similar to the one we have on display
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here, struck in his lower right leg requiring its amputation on the battlefield and we have here on display that lower right leg. it took an interesting journey to get here to washington. sickles was aware, as was his medical officer thomas simms of the request by the army medical museum to collect a sped minute of morbid anatomy and required simms, his surgeon, to send it forward. the leg was sent in a small box, a coffin of sorts with a note, "complime "compliments, major general d.e s." where it was prepared by the museum staff and mounted in the fashion that you see here and -- but the story goes on. sickles would even visit the museum on the anniversary of his leg's amputation and he'd bring his cohorts and cronies to see
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the leg on display and there are records of his visits and there's even a record of a visit where sickles asked to see what was left of his foot. he noted just the leg itself had been displayed and the curator at the time, george otis, responded to general sickles "general, we didn't preserve that part of the specimen because just this part showed the unique trauma and pathology we wanted to showcase." and according to the legend, sickles didn't take that too well. so sickles remains here as a central part of the museum's exhibit on civil war medicine. as i said, is one of the most frequently asked-after octobers on display by visitors to the museum in silver spring.
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we also have on display this bone specimen. it belonged to a private cunningham but it's notable because this bone was something that was recounted upon by walt whitman. whitman was a nurse and served in washington area hospitals and hospitals in virginia during and after the civil war. at some point the museum staff was able to associate walt whitman's writings in poems and stories from that time with specimens that were held in the collection here at the museum. and so here's a case where we're able to associate a bit of a story from walt whitman with the bone of a person he cared for in a hospital during the civil war itself. our final stop today is an exhibit on the assassination of abraham lincoln. and features artifacts that were collected during those hours that surgeons were treating him
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after he was shot at ford's theater and during and after his autopsy the next day. so you might remember that abraham lincoln is shot at forth's theater at about 10:30 on friday, april 14, 1865. this is just a few days after lee surrendered to grant at appomattox. effectively ending the civil war. lincoln is at the play and is shot in the back of the head by john wilkes booth by a small lead bullet. that bullet is actually on display here and you can see it in that small glass globe. the bullet was recovered the next day at an autopsy performed at the white house. in the hours, though, just shortly after lincoln is shot, the surgeon general, surgeon gene


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