Cal U Civil War Roundtable Looks at Nursing Care

By Harvath, Les | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 4, 2011 | Go to article overview

Cal U Civil War Roundtable Looks at Nursing Care


Harvath, Les, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Like countless students of the Civil War, Roland R. Maust was bitten by the bug when he visited the grounds of Gettysburg National Military Park as a youngster with his parents.

An accomplished Civil War historian, Maust developed an interest in hospital conditions at Gettysburg.

"But there were no books," he said. "No one had approached the topic."

However, after discovering letters written by a Civil War nurse at Gettysburg detailing hospital conditions, he proposed authoring his own book, but, he chuckled, was told to avoid Gettysburg as a topic.

"Guess what," he said, laughing. "I wrote a book about Gettysburg."

"Grappling With Death: The Union Second Corps Hospital at Gettysburg," some 15 years in the making, details medical care available to the wounded and is available at the Gettysburg National Military Park bookstore.

Today Maust is pastor of Grace Brethren Church of Uniontown.

While conducting research for his book, he stumbled across information about some of the nurses who aided the soldiers at and after the Gettysburg campaign, noting that they did incredible things to help the soldiers.

But, he added, "It's amazing how one topic leads to another."

The most recent product of that progression is the presentation about Anna Morris Holstein, a Union nurse during the Civil War who saved Valley Forge.

Maust will offer his thoughts on Holstein at a Dec. 8 presentation for the California University of Pennsylvania Civil War Roundtable.

Two years after the war, Holstein published "Three Years in Field Hospitals of the Army of the Potomac." Her letters are housed at the Historical Society of Montgomery County in Norristown. After the war Holstein returned to Upper Marion, near Valley Forge, and wrote about her experiences, realizing she could make a significant medical contribution from her war-time experiences as a nurse.

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