Sunday, October 29, 2006

Pry House Field Hospital Museum

Last night we investigated the Pry House Field Hospital Museum. On the grounds of the Antietam National Battlefield and operated by the National Park Service, we had the privilege of being able to investigate it as part of an annual event with WFRE radio. I'll just say that one of the radio staff truly got a taste of what rookie "step duty" is really like, lol. Thanks man, you were a trooper.

The Pry House, built in 1844 by Philip Pry, is a brick Federal-style house that sits on a hill overlooking the fields below. It was used by Gen. McClellan as his headquarters during the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862, the bloodiest day of the Civil War with over 20,000 casualties and injuries. Many of those injured soldiers were brought to the Pry barn, which was used as a field hospital until that December. Maj. Gen. Israel Richardson was mortally injured by a ball from a spherical case that struck him in his side. He died at the House on Nov. 3. It changed hands only about 2 times before being acquired by the NPS in 1974. The house was damaged by a fire in 1976 and restored to its 1862 layout and appearance.

Sightings associated with the house have been mostly the apparition of a woman in 19th c. clothing--seen by firefighters, and workers. The legend has always wondered if it was Mrs. Richardson, who tended to her dying husband, but the museum director's son saw her once and described it as looking like the woman in the picture downstairs--Mrs. Pry.

I can tell you one thing though...I have never been at a location that made me feel as off-balance, out of breath, woozy, and dizzy as that one. I usually get "symptoms" at haunted locations, such as lightheadedness and that stuffy, "thick" feeling. I felt "off" the whole time and didn't feel okay again until after we left.

The Pry House is a fantastic museum to find out more about Civil War field hospitals. I was in the dark reading the displays with my flashlight and they were pretty fascinating. Medical care concepts we're familiar with now such as triage came about as a result of the Civil War.

When working at historic sites, you have to be very careful of the objects within, as many are priceless, and know what can/can not be photographed (artifacts, office equipment...). You also have to respect any restrictions, such as no-go areas, and the location itself--as you do not want to damage it in any way. Historical site cases are always such an honor to be able to do, and for a history-lover like me? Pure bliss.


lynne said...

Wow! Your physical reaction was very you get that a lot at active locations?

Also, I would think it would be very frustrating to investigate at a museum. I used to work at a museum and I was always on edge to make sure I didn't accidently trip and accidently touch something off limits.

Elle said...

It can be, but we're always aware that it is a privilege. That far outweighs any inconveniences.

As for the symptoms, yes. The most common is head pressure.