PBS recently launched a new war drama “Mercy Street" the show is the first American drama from PBS in over a decade. The drama is set during the Civil War in 1862 in Alexandria, Virginia. The main characters include two nurses; Meg Phinney, a New England abolitionist and Emma Green, a confederate belle. These two volunteer nurses from opposite sides of the war get thrown together at the Mansion House Hospital, a Union Army Hospital in Alexandria, owned by the Green family.
Alexandria served as the border town between the North and the South, and was considered the melting pot during the civil war. Mercy Street is inspired by real historical events that took place in this area. Since the show is based on actual events a number of these sites mentioned are available for visitors to experience.
Historical Sites You Can Visit Found in Mercy Street
Otherwise known as The Mansion House Hospital Exhibit, the Carlyle House Historic Park is the main setting in Mercy Street. The house was bought by the Green family in 1848 who built the Mansion House Hotel next to it. When the civil war began both of the house and the hotel were converted into hospital and staff quarters.
This preserved historical location is where the Green family came for most of their shopping needs, both in real life and in Mercy Street. Visitors are able to take guided tours of where not only the Green family shopped, but also where the Union Quartermasters purchased much of their supplies as well.
Alexandria was a prime location for many slaves who were looking for refugee during the 1800's. Unfortunately the area was not able to accommodate the masses and many of their lives ended from disease or poverty. During the civil war, and as seen in Mercy Street, many African American slaves were just getting their taste of freedom and were taking up jobs as laborers. The Alexandria Black History Museum was originally a segregated library for African Americans. Contraband and Freedmen Cemetery located near the museum was a recently discovered site that revealed a large burial ground where the slaves were buried during this time.
During the Civil War, Fort Ward was one of the protective forces of the Washington DC area. The area today still features the original earth work wall that stood during the Civil War. Today you can find a number of artifacts that date back to the same era as Mercy Street. Weapons, uniforms, tools and even some of the medical care tools that were used on the soldiers are all on exhibit here.
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