Exchange Hotel and Civil War Museum
The Exchange Hotel and Civil War Museum
The Exchange hotel was built in 1860 just before the beginning of the Civil War. It was to be a showplace with its high ceiling parlors and grand veranda located next to the railroad to welcome visitors to the area. When the war began, it became the Gordonsville Receiving Hospital and provided care for 70,000 soldiers, both Confederate and Union.
The restored hotel now is a museum dedicated to the wounded soldiers and medical professionals who helped them. There are several displays throughout the three floors. On the first floor, there is a room dedicated to the railroad history and has some great artifacts. In the parlor, see the antique 1850's piano. This model was only made for a few years and you are not likely to see one like it elsewhere. There are also samples of women's fancy dresses that they would have worn when they visited here prior to the war.
The Civil War displays have some great artifacts that will give you an idea of what it would have been like to be here either as a patient or as one of the doctors or other personnel taking care of the wounded. Unlike many of the Civil War museums, they show artifacts of both sides. There are many uniforms from both Union and Confederate soldiers. The Model Room has a great battlefield set up showing how each side would arrange their soldiers. The Mourning Room is set up like the average parlor and has mourning clothes and a wheel chair from the era.
The top floor is dedicated to the medical profession during the war. There are several doctor's instruments displayed, a doctor's private room, and a Ward Room showing how the beds were set up. Then there is the Surgery Room. Most surgery was most likely performed outside in tents with a similar set up as you will see here. They show how it was right down to the bloody rags on the table. The charts on the wall show how to amputate limbs. Doctors that have visited have said it is done by the same basic procedure today.
My favorite thing there was a large war model. The two sides of the battle field were separated by train tracks. On the Union side there were buildings that they put injured soldiers behind and behind them, they put the horses. On the Confederate side they had no buildings to hide behind. There was a surgeon table. There was the saw covered in blood and the extra limbs that were sown off put into a bucket. Upstairs in the museum there was a surgery room set up. They performed a lot of amputations and showed how it was done.
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