Tea With Sarah: How Did You Get Interested In That Subject?

If we were really having tea today, it’d probably be something like grab a cup and tea bag from the hotel, let’s go, go, go! Definitely not the proper way to have tea…

I’ve been on the road for a research trip this last week or so, and it’s been a whirlwind and good experience. Today, I’m lecturing at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, and I thought my interest in Civil War Medicine and the McGuires might start a conversation or two.

Tea while we drive, anyone?

Civil War Hospital Flag (Photo by Miss Sarah, Prado Park, 2015)

How Did You Become Interested In Civil War Medicine?

Short version: I thought I hated Civil War medicine when I was a kid. It was gross and scary, and I had this perception that doctors were just sort of butchers who didn’t care about their patients. Eventually, I got brave and read a book about the subject and started to realize I had some misconceptions about the Civil War medicine.

I started studying and my first ventures into living history teaching really pushed me to explore battlefield and hospital medical practices during the 1860’s. My research on Gettysburg field hospitals for Blue, Gray & Crimson added more to my knowledge of the subject. I’m always learning and always looking for the next primary source related to the field of medicine during the Civil War.

Are YOU interested in Civil War Medical History? What prompted your interest?

Young Hunter McGuire, Winchester Historical Society online archives

How Did You Become Interested In Studying Dr. McGuire?

I knew about Dr. McGuire – mostly that he took care of Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson when that commander was wounded and dying. My interest in studying McGuire and his family came through choosing a living history scenario in 2013. It’s sort of snowballed (in a good way) into wanting to know details after detail about their lives, work, and how they survived the Civil War and the personal loss it brought to their family.

It’s a challenging project since many of the papers and records related to Dr. McGuire and his family were burned in Winchester, at Waynesboro, or in Richmond during the Civil War. Still, I find it’s like a puzzle and finding the next piece is always a research adventure hanging in front of me as I explore a variety of materials for solid details or clues to follow. One special part of the on-going research project has been communicating with a direct descendant of Dr. Hunter McGuire, hearing her family stories, and sharing some of the details I’ve found.

Willie Preston’s grave in Lexington; he is actually buried near or on Second Manassas Battlefield.

Why Do You Leave Flowers At Cemetery Graves When You’re Travelling? 

Just because…

If you haven’t seen the photo on Gazette665’s social media, then it might be news to you that I leave flowers on the graves of historic people I’ve been studying. It’s a way to show respect and let passersby know these people are not forgotten.

I don’t leave flowers for every person I’m studying. Just the ones whose lives, writings, or actions mean something really important to me.

Do you leave flowers at historic graves?

Leave some comments and/or questions for next tea and have a lovely afternoon!

Your Historian,

Miss Sarah

About Sarah Kay Bierle

I’m Sarah Kay Bierle, historian, editor, and historical fiction writer. When sharing history, I try to keep the facts interesting and understandable. History is about real people, real actions, real effects and it should inspire us today.
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