Sparks from chimney start fire at Military Hospital

Indiana Governor Oliver Morton asked the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind., to provide assistance in the administration of City Hospital in Indianapolis right after the April 12, 1861 attack on Fort Sumter. The Congregation graciously responded to the request and served soldiers — Union and Confederate — for the duration of the Civil War at Military (formerly City) Hospital (pictured).

In the Archives of the Sisters of Providence are several transcripts of two Indianapolis newspapers. The transcripts give one a glimpse into the daily life of the sister-nurses and their charges. The Indianapolis Daily Journal relates the following article about a fire in the hospital in its Monday, Jan. 16, 1865, issue:

“Yesterday morning about eight o’clock, the City Hospital was discovered to be on fire in the roof, having caught from the sparks from the chimney. Through the exertions of the attaches, however, who cut a hole in the roof in another place, and applied a wholesome quantity of water, the fire was extinguished with slight damage. The water occasioned some inconvenience in some of the rooms, but the energy of Drs. Kitchen and Wishard soon made all comfortable again. The Hospital is full of sick and wounded and we shudder at the bare contemplation of the consequences had the fire got a fair headway. It was the wooden addition that was on fire, and owing to its combustible nature, it would have been speedily consumed.”

This transcript is part of the collection of the Sisters of Providence in the Vigo County Indiana Civil War Sesquicentennial Project. See more documents and artifacts in the Sisters of Providence collection.

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