WHEELING - During the Civil War, wounded Union and Confederate soldiers lay side by side at Wheeling Hospital's former North Wheeling facility.
Owned by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Wheeling Hospital was founded in 1850 by Bishop Richard V. Whelan and Dr. Simon Hullihen. The original hospital was located in a house at 110 15th St. in East Wheeling and still stands today. It was staffed by four nuns of the Sisters of St. Joseph order.
The 15th Street house served as the hospital from 1853-56. When the space became too small, the sisters, nurses and doctors moved to the Sweeney mansion in North Wheeling. The mansion and its additions have since been demolished. It was located near the former Sacred Heart Church, where the current Hope 6 housing development is located.
A close-up of the framed medal, the Sisters of St. Joseph's photos and a written account of Wheeling Hospital’s role along with its nurses.
During the Civil War, the hospital cared for both Union and Confederate soldiers as patients at the North Wheeling location. Wheeling Hospital spokesman Gregg Warren said the hospital's geographic location also allowed for the care of both Union and Confederate prisoners during the Civil War.
"The wounded and sick arrived by horse-drawn ambulances, railroad cars and naval boats. Wheeling Hospital became a U.S. Army Hospital, known as a 'Post Hospital,' and eight of the sisters who had been caring for civilians became commissioned by the Union as military nurses," Warren said.
"Historians report the story of Civil War medicine is upsetting, but it is made brighter only by the sacrifices and compassion of doctors and nurses. Perhaps nowhere could someone find more sacrifice and compassion than at Wheeling Hospital. The one thing that set it apart was its nurses - the Sisters of St. Joseph. The sisters even gave up their own beds for the soldiers," Warren added.
Warren said Sister Ignatius Farley took note of such a scene of compassion and wrote the following: "As I opened the door of our temporary dormitory, I stood fascinated by the picture before me. In the dim light afforded by the small, perpetual flame of the sanctuary lamp which flickered in the temporary chapel just beyond the glass panels of the folding doors, I beheld my sisters - all seven of them - lying on the floor fast asleep. Each weary head rested on a pillow made of a coffee sack stuffed with leaves gathered from the hospital grounds."
Warren noted Sister Farley, along with Mother Mary de Chantal Keating, was presented a Bronze Medal for their service from the Union's Grand Army of the Republic.
A portrait of Sister Farley caring for a soldier, titled "Angel of Mercy," hangs in the hospital lobby today.
"In 1865 the war ended and the sisters continued on as civilian nurses at Wheeling Hospital," Warren said.