Fort McHenry’s most active time period in its long and varied history was not the War of 1812, but World War I.
It is hard to believe now, but at one time, the Fort was a very busy military base. A 3,000-bed receiving hospital was constructed around the old Star Fort. It was a facility through which more than 20,000 wounded and sick soldiers from World War I would pass for treatment on their way back to duty or civilian life. Some patients stayed two weeks, others two years.
Construction started on what became known as U. S. Army General Hospital No. 2 in 1917 and by the time it was through over 100 structures had been built on the 40 plus acres – covering virtually every foot of ground. It was the largest receiving hospital in the country.
To take care of the soldier-patients was a staff which included some 200 doctors, 300 nurses, 300 medical corpsmen, and 100 civilian hospital aides.