Mercy Street: PBS Drama Inspired by Stories of Civil War Alexandria
Set in 1862, the second season of Mercy Street picks up directly from the dramatic events at the end of the season one finale, continuing to explore the growing chaos within Alexandria, the complicated interpersonal dynamics of Dr. Foster, Nurse Mary and the Mansion House Hospital staff, the increasingly precarious position of the Green family and the changing predicament of the burgeoning black population. Alexandria was a border town between North and South and the longest Union-occupied city of the Civil War. Ruled under martial law, Alexandria was the melting pot of the region; a place where personal stories of the Union and Confederacy converge in a city setting. The Office of Historic Alexandria joins Visit Alexandria in providing visitor experiences that uncover the real people behind the characters on the show, the realities of Civil War medicine, changing roles for women, and the breakthrough experience of enslaved African Americans claiming their freedom.
Immerse yourself in events and exhibits inspired by Mercy Street by exploring Alexandria, the PBS drama's history-filled setting.
- WJLA Interview with Beth Hoppe from PBS and Audrey Davis from Alexandria Black History Museum, January 13, 2016.
- Alexandria During the Civil War
- Union Hospitals in Alexandria
- Mansion House Hospital
- Alexandria During the Civil War: First Person Accounts
- Diaries of Julia Wilbur, March 1860 to July 1866
- Emma Green and Frank Stringfellow: Alexandria's Civil War Sweethearts. Learn about real Alexandria residents portrayed in the drama "Mercy Street"
Exhibits at Historic Alexandria Museums
This Terrible Disease - Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum
During the Civil War occupation of Alexandria, the Leadbeater family sold medicinal remedies for the diseases that afflicted the local military and civilian populations. The exhibit features prescriptions and accounts of remedies sold to the Union Commissary Department, the contraband population, and civilian residents during the war.
Alexandria’s Nurses & Hospitals During the Civil War - The Lyceum
This exhibit features stories of some of the real nurses who worked in local hospitals, including two of the main characters on Mercy Street. The exhibit includes a map showing where those medical facilities were located, and comments from a soldier who was treated in some of them, including the notorious “Camp Misery.”
Before the Spirits Are Swept Away: African American Historic Site Paintings by Sherry Z. Sanabria-
Alexandria Black History Museum
This exhibit features more 20 paintings by area artist Sherry Z. Sanabria (1937-2014). The paintings in this series honor the lives of African Americans who survived slavery and years of racial injustice, but whose presence defined the American landscape.
Medical Care for the Civil War Soldier - Fort Ward Museum & Historic Site
Learn more about the surgical procedures and medical equipment used in the PBS series Mercy Street. See a variety of medical tools, instruments and images from the museum’s medical collection, including some that relate to surgical procedures featured in the television series.
Mercy Uncovered: Archaeology in Civil War Alexandria - Alexandria Archaeology Museum
View dioramas and period objects found during excavations, including a musket that was still cocked and loaded, “meet” a Civil war drummer boy, and more.
Hotel vs. Hospital - Gadsby’s Tavern Museum
Explore the story of the fine hotel industry in Alexandria and how it quickly changed after the Civil War began. The City Hotel (today part of Gadsby’s Tavern Museum at 134 North Royal St.) was the only major hotel in Alexandria to remain open during the entirety of the war.
Exhibits at Other Alexandria Museums
Who These Wounded Are: The Extraordinary Stories of the Mansion House Hospital -
Carlyle House Historic Park
See the site that inspired Mercy Street. The exhibit recreates the days of Union occupation and tells the true stories of those who lived and worked here during the war.