Between the three hospitals in York County today, there are 828 beds.

But from 1862 to 1864, there was one hospital with 1,600 beds, and in the brief time it was running, that hospital saw more than 14,000 patients with only 193 deaths.

That hospital was the U.S. Army General Hospital, and it is featured in the "Sawbones to Saviours: Civil War Medicine at Penn Common" exhibit on display now at the York County Heritage Trust Historical Society Museum.

The exhibit, now in its second edition, gives visitors a chance to learn more about the Civil War hospital that was located at the site of today's Penn Park in York City.

Swords, medical service patches, receipts, letters, photographs and interactive displays help to tell the story of life in York during the Civil War.

How it started: "Sawbones to Saviours" started as a way to bring the personal papers of Dr. Henry Palmer back to York.

Palmer served as the chief surgeon at the U.S. Army General Hospital in York and was pivotal in establishing activities to occupy the wounded soldiers and keep up their morale.

His papers include hospital records, requests for supplies, clothing rolls and receipts of soldiers' effects, which were returned to the families upon their death.

The papers were discovered

by former YCHT staff member Jean Hershner at a Wisconsin museum in 2010.

A Tiemann, N.Y., surgical kit made by one of the largest suppliers of surgical instruments during the Civil War is one of the highlights of the exhibit. It dates back to the first two years of the Civil War.

The York Hospital School of Nursing gave the museum a Civil War Hospital Diorama that was created by Othmar Carli, a county artist. Carli's depiction of the hospital focuses on the summer of 1863 after the Battle of Gettysburg, when the hospital had one of its largest influxes of wounded soldiers.

For museum hours and more information, visit

-- Reach Chelsea Shank at 505-5432 or