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Mansion House Hospital

"In ‘Mercy Street,’ Civil War trauma meets modern medical drama" PBS NewsHour 1/15/2016


SUMMARY:  "Mercy Street," a new original series on PBS, tells the story of a one-time hotel turned Union army hospital, and is based on memoirs and letters of real Civil War medical staff.  Jeffrey Brown takes a look at how its creators combined a historical saga with a medical drama.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  Spring 1862: The carnage on the Civil War goes on, and some of the wounded and dying are brought here to Mansion House Hospital.

ACTOR:  Ah.  You must be the new nurse.  I am Dr. Hale, chief operating surgeon.

JEFFREY BROWN:  “Mercy Street” is a dramatized account based on memoirs and letters of doctors and nurses who served at a Union facility that also took in a handful of Confederate soldiers.

The real Mansion House, a one-time luxury hotel transformed into an Army hospital, was in Alexandria, Virginia, just south of Washington.  The series was filmed further south in Petersburg, Virginia, as well as in Richmond at a Civil War-period mansion, where we visited last summer as shooting was wrapping up.

Josh Radnor plays Jedediah Foster, a civilian surgeon now caught up in the pain, frustrations and blood of the war.

JOSH RADNOR, “Dr. Jedediah Foster”:  Be prepared.  This may bleed a bit.


JOSH RADNOR:  It’s life and death in a hospital.  Plus, you throw the Civil War on top of it, you have got pretty much the most dramatic situation you could ever imagine.

There’s this feeling that it’s entirely grounded in its time and place, and, at the same time, it feels modern and urgent and vital.  It feels like you’re walking into this, like, bustling, alive, relatable story with people that you recognize somehow.

ACTOR:  This is what happens to traitors.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Alexandria was the only Confederate town occupied by the Union for all four years of the war, and much of the drama here involves the interaction of Northerners and Southerners.

They’re enemies, but also at times forced to work side by side, as with two volunteer nurses, one a staunch New England abolitionist, the other an inexperienced young woman whose life has been upended by occupation.

This post first appeared on Mage Soapbox, please read the originial post: here

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