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Thread: Hospital Flags

  1. #1
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    Default Hospital Flags

    Were hospitals flags only yellow or was red also used? I read a period novel about a woman coming onto the battlefield at Antietiam and she mentions the numerous red hospital flags flying from almost every building.
    Thanks.
    Elizabeth
    Elizabeth Topping
    Columbus, Ohio
    "Good women are rarely clever and clever women are rarely good." Adah Issacs Menken

  2. #2
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    Arrow RE: Hospital Flags

    Elizabeth,

    The color of hospital flags and dressing station flags are often questioned, mainly because there was no "official" flags for either side until late in the war. At the beginning of the war, both the North and the South used a solid red flag to designate medical sites near the battlefield. Plain yellow was often used for more permanent hospitals located in nearby towns. By late 1862, the Union was using red or yellow or sometimes green. In January of 1864, an official hospital flag was adopted by the Union, yellow with a green "H." This flag was usually used for more permanent hospitals, not dressing station sites.

    The Confederacy did not adopt an official flag, mainly using solid yellow or red to mark their hospitals. Yellow was used to designated an established hospital, and red a field hospital. The Confederacy did not use the yellow flag with the green "H".

    I hope this helps.

    Thanks,
    I Remain, Your Obedient Servant,
    Jimmy "Doc" Nelson
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  3. #3
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    Thank you, Doc.
    So the female author was not incorrect in writing that red flags marked the hospitals on the Antietiam battlefield?
    Elizabeth
    Elizabeth Topping
    Columbus, Ohio
    "Good women are rarely clever and clever women are rarely good." Adah Issacs Menken

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    Default RE: Hospital Flags

    Hey, no problem, Elizabeth. I had difficulty when I first started researching medical flags, so I understand. Now, the "red" flags would mark the Field Dressing Stations and the "yellow" would mark the Hospitals. Dr. Jonathan Letterman had "revamped" the Medical Corps after Antietam. The Medical Department wasn't prepared for the number of casualties resulting from battle (in specific, the Battle of Antietam). Dr Letterman restructured the care of the wounded into a "3-tier" operation (if you will). The first level of care was at the Regimental level, with a Field Dressing Station (or, Forward Aid Station), the next level was the Field Hospital (possibly a Brigade or Division) and finally, the third level was a Large-Fixed (possibly a Corps or Army) Hospital. He also organized the Ambulance Corps, to transport the wounded from the field of battle. And well, the Field Dressing Stations were not a place to "conduct" surgical operations (unless it was absolutely necessary). They were a triage area, for the Assistant Surgeon to assess and bandage the wounded. From there, the Assistant Surgeon would 'prep' the severely wounded for transportation to the Field Hospital.

    Thanks,
    Last edited by "Doc" Nelson; 09-24-2006 at 09:25 PM.
    I Remain, Your Obedient Servant,
    Jimmy "Doc" Nelson
    Moderator (well, sometimes . . hehehe )
    ** We have Rules here! **

    Daylight Lodge # 760 F&AM
    Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels


    In honor of my 3rd Great Grandfather: "John Daniel Nelson", Surgeon, 4th Georgia Infantry, CSA


  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by "Doc" Nelson
    They were a triage area, for the Assistant Surgeon to assess and bandage the wounded. From there, the Assistant Surgeon would 'prep' the severely wounded for transportation to the Field Hospital.

    Thanks,
    Would "civilian" nurses (those coming from nearby towns to help) work at the traige stations or in the Field Hospitals only?
    Elizabeth
    Elizabeth Topping
    Columbus, Ohio
    "Good women are rarely clever and clever women are rarely good." Adah Issacs Menken

  6. #6
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    No ma'am, Nurses were not allowed onto battlefields. They were "assigned" to fixed hospitals.
    I Remain, Your Obedient Servant,
    Jimmy "Doc" Nelson
    Moderator (well, sometimes . . hehehe )
    ** We have Rules here! **

    Daylight Lodge # 760 F&AM
    Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels


    In honor of my 3rd Great Grandfather: "John Daniel Nelson", Surgeon, 4th Georgia Infantry, CSA


  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by "Doc" Nelson
    No ma'am, Nurses were not allowed onto battlefields. They were "assigned" to fixed hospitals.
    Thank you again, Doc, in helping me determine the accuracy of period novels written by women during the war years.
    Elizabeth
    Elizabeth Topping
    Columbus, Ohio
    "Good women are rarely clever and clever women are rarely good." Adah Issacs Menken

  8. #8
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    No problem. I hope it helped some .
    I Remain, Your Obedient Servant,
    Jimmy "Doc" Nelson
    Moderator (well, sometimes . . hehehe )
    ** We have Rules here! **

    Daylight Lodge # 760 F&AM
    Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels


    In honor of my 3rd Great Grandfather: "John Daniel Nelson", Surgeon, 4th Georgia Infantry, CSA


  9. #9
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    Comrade,

    I would also add that the Federal Army of the Potomac continued to use small red flags to mark the ambulances and the route(s) to the field dressing station/ambulance park, up until around 1864, when they, too, were replaced with the yellow flags with green borders.

    Respects,
    Tim Kindred
    Medical Mess

  10. #10
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    Most women near a battlefield had common sense - if armies are moving through, it's time to hoof it. Your property can be replaced, but you and your children cannot.

    There are exceptions to the rule. After Perryville, the whole town came out to help the overwhelmed staff handle the casualties. It was still a mess.

    Likewise Gettysburg - yes, a few women attempted to insuinuate themselves in the field hospitals after the battle. Not many stuck around, though.

    You will find women registered under Ms. Dix assigned to general hospitals in big cities, however. Louisa Alcott wrote extensively of her experiences after Fredericksburg (and I should reread that, too.)

    Early war hospital flags tended to be red, then slowly shifted to yellow. The Federals included a green H in the middle in further attempt to idiotproof the ID of the flag.
    Noah Briggs

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