This past Sunday night, the second season of Mercy Street began on the PBS Channel. The first season is available on DVD, which we carry in the library and is available to checkout. According to the PBS Channel, Mercy Street is: “Inspired by real people and events, Mercy Street goes beyond the front lines of the Civil War and into the chaotic world of the Mansion House Hospital in Union-occupied Alexandria, Virginia. Mercy Street takes viewers beyond the battlefield and into the lives of Americans on the Civil War home front as they face the unprecedented challenges of one of the most turbulent times in our nation’s history.”

In addition to the DVD, a companion book to the show is available at the library. The Heroines of Mercy Street: The Real Nurses of the Civil War tells the story of nurses, many of whom were volunteers from both sides who worked in terrible conditions to help care for the wounded. The book is based on in-depth research, but told in a way that makes it interesting to those who want to know more about the story told on the television show.

The Civil War was indeed a difficult time in our young history as a nation. Until the Vietnam War, more soldiers died during the Civil War than in all wars in which we were involved combined, and research continues that the number may have been underestimated. Many died from disease and the aftermath of wounds suffered on the battlefield. Much was learned by those in the medical field, as they struggled to keep wounded soldiers alive. With few resources, little training and the massive influx of wounded, it was learning with great expense to the nation. It especially affected the south, as the workforce was diminished more so than in the north. The rebuilding took years, and the wounds were not all physical. Even today, there is still animosity among some descendants of southern soldiers.

As brothers fought against brothers, the war divided families as well as states. Though the war went on for years, the Republic was saved. We were led by an intelligent, well-read man who struggled to overcome many personal issues and tragedies to hold the nation together. He was self-taught and well-spoken. He was a leader, and he kept the country from collapsing.

Part of this story comes to life in the PBS Channel show as it continues. It’s good to know more about our history, so we do not repeat the past. Watch, read more about it and learn from it. Our nation is worth preserving.