Friday, March 16, 2012

Charlottesville General Hospital

Charlottesville General Hospital, marker Q-23 Charlottesville, VAMarker No. Q-23
City of Charlottesville
Albemarle County, VA

Marker Text: During the Civil War, the Rotunda at the University of Virginia, the Charlottesville town hall and the courthouse, as well as nearby homes and hotels were converted into a makeshift hospital complex called the Charlottesville General Hospital. It treated more than 22,000 wounded soldiers between 1861 and 1865. The first of the wounded arrived by train within hours of the First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) in July 1861. One of the facilities, known as the Mudwall or Delevan Hospital, received wounded soldiers as they arrived at the adjacent railroad depot.

Location: At the intersection of West Main Street (Business U.S. 250) and 13th Street and near Jefferson Park Avenue between the University Medical Center and the campus of the University of Virginia. Erected by the Department of Historic Resources in 2000.

  Traveling throughout Virginia, you will find countless markers and monuments dedicated to the American Civil War and most of these markers are related to some battle or military engagement which occurred at the location. Virginia had more military actions within its borders than any other state. You will also come across other markers related to the Civil War, but not just about battles. These markers told other stories about the Civil War, such as, about hospitals, (like today's markers), churches that served as hospitals, cemeteries, camps, and other locations related to some aspect of the war.

  Following the First Battle of Manassas or Bull Run occurring during July, 1861 the need for hospitals for the Confederate Army were needed and Charlottesville was a logical location. Charlottesville was connected to Manassas Junction by railroad and made the transportation of wounded soldiers easier and would get them far enough outside the field of action.

  Charlottesville General Hospital was established shortly after the First Battle of Manassas and was a makeshift military medical center housed in various public and private buildings across town, including hotels, churches, and facilities belonging to the University of Virginia. The Confederate government viewed Charlottesville as a favorable location for the hospital, because of its proximity to the Confederate capital and two major railroads, the Virginia Central and the Orange and Alexandria.

Charlottesville General Hospital, marker Q-23 on West Main Street, Charlottesville, VA

Photo taken looking east on West Main Street, turn to VA Medical Center is on the right. Click any photo to enlarge.

  Opened in July 1861, it served 22,700 patients during the Civil War. Still, getting to the hospital could be a long, dangerous, and painful journey for many soldiers. By train, it took approximately twenty-four to thirty-six hours from Manassas Junction to Charlottesville and at least one physician suggested that food and care not be provided to the wounded soldiers during the trip.

  Charlottesville General Hospital employed approximately three hundred Charlottesville residents and grew to a capacity of 500 beds staffed by between fifteen and fifty doctors.

  Among the soldiers treated at the hospital about forty percent were treated for gunshot wounds, making amputation one of the most frequently performed medical procedures. Though as occurred in most Civil War hospitals, both north and south, soldiers suffering from diseases accounted for most patients and fatalities; diarrhea, typhoid, measles, dysentery, and pneumonia were far more common ailments. As the war went on, there were severe shortages of medical supplies, forcing the staff to resort to indigenous plants, such as dandelions, dogwood, juniper, and persimmons, with known or suspected medicinal properties.

Charlottesville General Hospital marker in front of George Roger Clark sculpture

The sculpture behind the marker is a statue of George Roger Clark, Conqueror of the Northwest who was originally from Charlottesville, VA.

  Dr. James Lawrence Cabell, professor of anatomy and surgery at the University of Virginia, managed the facility and staff. The hospital's superintendent of nurses was Dr. Orianna Moon. Dr. Moon was an Albemarle County native and as a young woman was described as being antislavery, anti-religion, and pro-woman's rights. Her sister was the Southern Baptist missionary Charlotte "Lottie" Moon. An 1857 graduate of the Female Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she was one of only thirty-eight women that year who held a medical degree in the United States. Moon worked in Charlottesville only for a few months before relocating to Richmond in November 1861, having married her hospital colleague, Dr. John Summerfield Andrews.

  Most of the 1,100 patients who died at the hospital during the war were buried in unmarked graves in a field adjacent to the University Cemetery. Cemeteries were created next to or near most Civil War hospitals. In addition, Confederate General Carnot Posey, a Mississippian who attended law school at the University of Virginia and died after being wounded at the Battle of Bristoe Station in 1863, is buried in the cemetery. After his 1862 death at Harrisonburg in the Shenandoah Valley, Turner Ashby was initially buried in Charlottesville, later following the war his remains were re-interred in the Mt. Hebron Cemetery in Winchester, Virginia.

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