Family Tree Friday: Confederate hospital records
Confederate records that survived the Civil War cover a variety of aspects and functions of both the Confederate government and its armed forces. One of the major components of the War Department Collection of Confederate Records includes records of various military hospitals that were established in several Southern states during the war. Administered by the Confederate Medical Department (which was a sub-office of the War Department), these hospitals tended to both Confederate military personnel and Union prisoners of war from nearby POW camps (in cases where the latter did not maintain their own hospital facilities). Records are available for general hospitals located in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, as well as a small sampling of material from New Mexico and the brief-lived Confederate Territory of Arizona. Records from Virginia are the most prevalent, with most documenting the major medical facilities in Richmond, including the well-known Chimborazo Hospital complex.
Although the same types of records did not survive for every hospital, typical records that are available include general registers of patients, such as the one pictured from General Hospital No. 21 in Richmond, in 1864 (ARC ID 1588357). This image shows both Confederate and Union patients (the latter marked with a check in blue pencil), and generally identifies the name of each patient, their rank, company and regiment, injury or ailment, and when they were admitted to the hospital. Other records include registers of surgical cases, patients discharged on surgeon’s certificates, prescription books, death registers, and patient account records (such as clothing issued). All together, they can provide detailed glimpses of the conditions experienced by soldiers in a military hospital setting. In many cases, these records show evidence of what happened to casualties after they were finally transferred away from the battlefront. If you have a Confederate ancestor who was wounded or taken ill during the war (usually clues to such events can be found in the soldier’s compiled service record), then it might be worthwhile to check out these Confederate hospital records for more information (keeping in mind, of course, that the records may not be complete because of the fragmentary way they survived the war).