General Hospital #1

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 :: General Hospital #1 ::
Information about General Hospital #1 in Richmond, VA during the Civil War.

Also called: The General Hospital, City Home Hospital, Alms House Hospital. Built shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War by the City of Richmond as a poor house. Rented by the City Council to the Confederate authorities in June 1861 as a military hospital. Continued in use as such until December 1864 when it was reclaimed by the City for rental to the Virginia Military Institute as their temporary location. Suffered heavy exterior damage when the nearby powder magazine was exploded on evacuation night. Taken over by Federal authorities and again used by them as a poor house. Returned to the City in December 1865. It was used for many years as the City Alms House. Still in use and owned by the City of Richmond. Earliest use by the Confederacy was for wounded Union prisoners. Soon became the first of the large General Hospitals. Capacity about 500 patients. Dr. Charles Bell Gibson, surgeon-in-charge. Location: northside of Hospital Street, between 2nd and 4th Streets, opposite Shockoe Cemetery. (from Confederate Military Hospitals in Richmond by Robert W. Wait, Jr., Official Publication #22 Richmond Civil War Centennial committee, Richmond, Virginia 1964.)

RG 109, Ch. 6, Vol. 151, p. 1 9/1862 - 5/1864; Statistics of General Hospital #1 - hospital closed after March, 1864


Distant view of General Hospital #1, greatly blown up from a panoramic photo taken from Church Hill.
Photograph of General Hospital #1, taken by Alexander Gardner.

Written Accounts

Richmond Enquirer 3/28/1861; ad for the summer schedule of classes at the Medical College - McCaw and Gibson are listed as professors; students will have access to patients at Bellevue Hospital and Alms House free of charge
Richmond Dispatch 4/15/1861; Dr. Charles Bell Gibson (future surgeon of GH#1) has been appointed Surgeon General of Virginia forces
Richmond Dispatch 4/26/1861; want ad for a drummer for the 1st South Carolina, stationed at the "New Poor House Building" (future GH#1)
Richmond Whig 7/11/1861; soldiers have been buried in an open field near the Alms House - advocates using Oakwood Cemetery for soldier interments
Richmond Dispatch 7/22/1861; wounded Kentuckian is taken to the hospital at the "new Alms House" (future GH#1)
Richmond Dispatch 7/25/1861; wounded POWs of Ellsworth's Zouaves are taken to the Alms House for treatment - expresses belief that these men are a very "hard set," and "villains of a low degree," and don't deserve any kindness
Richmond Whig 7/26/1861; soldier is attacked by another soldier and dies at the Alms House
Richmond Dispatch 7/27/1861; ten wounded soldiers taken to the alms house hospital
Richmond Enquirer 7/30/1861; City Alms House Hospital (Gen. Hos. #1) described. Used as a prison at this time.
Richmond Whig 7/31/1861; wounded Yankees complain about the General Hospital (GH#1)
Richmond Dispatch 8/2/1861; majority of wounded POWs are at the alms house; hospital established for prisoners at Ross' Factory
Richmond Dispatch 8/2/1861; 70 wounded POWs brought to Richmond
Richmond Dispatch 8/2/1861; 15 negro men wanted to work in the Alms House Hospital
Richmond Dispatch 8/8/1861; nearly 300 Yankee POWs at Alms House; mentions Col. Wilcox and Capt. Ricketts being there
Richmond Whig 8/8/1861; General Hospital #1 described
Richmond Whig 8/10/1861; appeal for the Alms House to be occupied by Confederate wounded, and the Yankees moved out. Praises the hospital as a "large and airy building"
Richmond Dispatch 8/12/1861; letter from POW of 69th NY, at Alms House Hospital
Richmond Whig 8/14/1861; recommendation that negroes be employed as hospital assistants and that Yankees be moved out of the Alms House
Richmond Dispatch 8/20/1861; detailed account of visit to Alms House Prison Hospital
Mary Chesnut's Civil War; C. Vann Woodward, ed. 8/5-26/1861; Accounts of Mrs. Chesnut's visits to Robertson Hospital and General Hospital No. 1 (8/23/1861)
Richmond Dispatch 8/26/1861; lists two Yankee officers who died recently at Alms House
Richmond Dispatch 8/26/1861; list of prominent Yankee POWs at Alms House
Richmond Whig 8/26/1861; Improvements to General Hospital #1.
Richmond Enquirer 9/17/1861; "Hospitals in Richmond" list
Richmond Enquirer 9/23/1861; false alarm of fire near the General Hospital
Richmond Enquirer 9/24/1861; Medical College notice for the next term, includes listing of professors (McCaw, Gibson, Peticolas, etc)
Richmond Enquirer 9/25/1861; list of hospitals in Richmond with current capacities. Notes that POWs are at the General Hospital
Richmond Examiner 9/27/1861; A southern turncoat is among the prisoners at General Hospital #1
Richmond Dispatch 10/1/1861; Officer Winches has been engaged in cleaning up the General Hospital and adding to the comfort of the inmates
Richmond Examiner 10/4/1861; Yankee prisoners, kept at General Hospital #1, to be exchanged
Richmond Dispatch 10/7/1861; flag of truce boat carries away 57 POWs - Charles Bell Gibson and St. George Peachy accompany the departing prisoners
Richmond Examiner 10/11/1861; 40 Federal prisoners being treated at GH#1; details about Mrs. Ricketts coming to Richmond to nurse her wounded husband
Richmond Dispatch 10/16/1861; 36 WIA prisoners transferred from Alms House to prison. Authorities hope to use Alms House for CSA only
Richmond Enquirer 10/16/1861; 36 prisoners transferred from the General Hospital to the Confederate States Hospital (probably Ross Factory)
Richmond Examiner 10/16/1861; Federal prisoners removed from GH#1 and moved to prison on Main st.
Richmond Dispatch 11/12/1861; statistics of burials in Shockoe cemetery during the last quarter, including 97 Union POWs
Richmond Enquirer 11/12/1861; quarterly statistics of the Shockoe Cemetery - 99 POWs buried there
Richmond Enquirer 11/23/1861; a baker is wanted at the General Hospital (GH#1)
Richmond Dispatch 11/29/1861; C. B. Gibson at G. H. #1 wants to hire 9 male nurses
Richmond Whig 1/1/1862; use of the Alms House (GH#1) is being urged to be returned to the poor
Richmond Dispatch

1/3/1862; Capt. Hugh McQuaid, Co. I, 39th NY, died in the Military Hospital 12/26. 25 POWs died in December.

Richmond Dispatch

1/4/1862; G. W. Archer, Asst. Surgeon at GH#1, adv for lost scarf

Richmond Enquirer 1/6/1862; description of a visit to "Hospital No. 1" where wounded Yankees are being treated
Richmond Dispatch 1/14/1862; Dr. Gibson adv for 10 servants to act as nurses at General Hospital
Richmond Whig 2/18/1862; burial statistics of the Shockoe Hill Cemetery for the quarter ending 1/31/1862. Notes also that 37 POWs were buried during the same time. Gives statistics for previous years as well. Notes that they have not seen such a report for Hollywood Cemetery.
Richmond Dispatch 3/6/1862; Stable of Dr. Charles Bell Gibson, Franklin St., burned
Richmond Enquirer 3/6/1862; fire at Dr. Gibson's stables - ascribed to arson
Richmond Whig 3/6/1862; Dr. Gibson's stables were partially burnt down
Richmond Dispatch 3/12/1862; Hollywood Cemetery asks City Council for land to expand; Wm. H. Johnson looking to recoup losses from plastering Alms House
Richmond Dispatch 4/26/1862; counterfeiter to be hanged near New Alms House
Richmond Dispatch 5/13/1862; Peterfield Trent asks City Council to set aside Clay St Chapel as hospital - request denied; quarter ending 4/30: 114 white interments at Shockoe, 16 of them POW
Richmond Dispatch 5/23/1862; Chas. Bell Gibson is Surgeon in Charge, GH#1
Richmond Dispatch 5/26/1862; details on Tom Rosser wound. Recuperating at Dr. Gibson’s Franklin St
Richmond Dispatch 6/3/1862; “Alms House Hospital” (GH#1) is in need of nurses and provisions; gives a good description of the hospital, and mentions the Sisters of Charity helping at the hospital
Richmond Examiner 6/4/1862; ladies needed to help at GH#1
Richmond Dispatch 6/5/1862; List of YMCA donations to GH#1, St. Charles, Byrd Island Hospital, Globe & Richardson.
Richmond Dispatch 6/6/1862; Chas. Bell Gibson needs 20 male nurses and 10 washerwomen for General Hospital
Richmond Enquirer 6/6/1862; 20 nurses and 12 laundresses needed at Gen. Hos. #1
Richmond Enquirer 6/6/1862; casualty list from Seven Pines, listing the hospitals where wounded were taken.
Richmond Whig 6/6/1862; 20 nurses needed at General Hospital #1
Richmond Dispatch 6/7/1862; List of donors & provisions for area hospitals
Richmond Dispatch 6/7/1862; Mrs. Wyatt thanked by GH#1 for donations
Charleston Mercury 6/9/1862; Description of the Battle of Seven Pines - notes that Capt. Elliot is raising a force for local defense; mentions the South Carolina Hospital in Manchester, Chimborazo, Winder, and the Alms House Hospital
Richmond Dispatch 6/17/1862; Gen. Hosp needs 20 gallons milk per day. J. S. Dorset acting steward
Richmond Dispatch 6/30/1862; Dr. C. B. Gibson at G. H. wants 20 servants, black or white
Richmond Dispatch 7/8/1862; General Hospital #1 thanks Ladies Relief Society of Powhatan
Richmond Dispatch 7/11/1862; J. S. Dorset, steward at GH#1, adv. for 25 nurses
Richmond Dispatch 7/11/1862; Dr. C. B. Gibson, Franklin between 7th and 8th, adv for wet nurse
Richmond Dispatch 7/15/1862; A. S. Dorset, GH#1, thanks Miss C. A. Branch of Chesterfield Co.
New York Herald 7/28/1862; wonderful general description of the city of Richmond - mentions, Hollywood, Tredegar, the Almshouse, appearance of the prisons, Odd Fellows Hall, and the James River and Kanawha Canal
National Archives, RG 109, Ch. IV 8/1/1862; order from F. Sorrel, re-designating existing hospitals into Gen. Hosps. with numbers.
Ledger of Confederate Hospital Practice no date; Rules and Regulations for General Hospital #1
Ledger of Confederate Hospital Practice no date; list of Surgeons at General Hospital #1
Richmond Dispatch 8/22/1862; counterfeiter to be hung in the "poor-house gulley" (near General Hospital #1)
Richmond Dispatch 8/23/1862; counterfeiter executed in gully east of Alms House. Elliott’s Battalion assists. This is the first counterfeiter executed.
Richmond Dispatch 8/25/1862; slave whipped for stealing surgical instruments from Charles Bell Gibson
Richmond Enquirer 8/25/1862; slave given fifteen lashes for stealing surgical instruments from Dr. C. B. Gibson
Richmond Dispatch 8/29/1862; GH#1 wants 10 men or boys – purpose not stated
Richmond Dispatch 9/9/1862; "Glue and Oil works" located just behind GH#1
Richmond Dispatch 9/10/1862; City report on expenditures, fiscal year ending 2/28/1862. Spent $30,409 on Alms House, $567 for painting roof of Seabrook’s Warehouse, $509 for improvements at Oakwood Cemetery; VCRR gets permission to use temporary Broad Street tracks to connect RF&P RR with VCRR – wish to transfer 40 freight cars & five passenger cars to VCRR; city council wonders why armory for volunteer companies of the city, 9th between Main & Cary, not yet completed
Richmond Dispatch 9/17/1862; J. S. Dorset, Hospital Steward at GH#1, thanks Chesterfield citizens for donations
Richmond Dispatch 9/22/1862; ten servants needed at General Hospital #1
Richmond Dispatch 9/27/1862; J. S. Dorset, steward at GH#1, tells slave owners to collect their fees today
Richmond Dispatch 9/29/1862; Dr. B. A. Curtis, GH#1, selling his farm in New Kent County on RYRRR
Richmond Enquirer 9/30/1862; tabular report of sick & wounded soldiers in the Hospitals in Richmond
Richmond Dispatch 10/1/1862; 150 ANV wounded arrive on VCRR – sent to GH#1
Library of Congress 10/6/1862; reports on the capacities of Richmond Hospitals and empty beds
Richmond Dispatch 10/15/1862; J. S. Dorset, steward at GH#1, selling milch cows
Library of Congress 10/16/1862; reports on the capacities of Richmond Hospitals, empty beds, and Patients in them
Library of Congress 11/1/1862; reports on the capacities of Richmond Hospitals, empty beds, and Patients in them
Richmond Dispatch 11/3/1862; J. S. Dorset at GH#1 anxious to pay owners of servants hired to hospital. Also wants 10 black nurses
Richmond Dispatch 11/4/1862; F. S. Skinner arrives 11/3 to be treated by Dr. Gibson
Richmond Dispatch 11/7/1862; Chas. Bell Gibson adv. for 19 black male nurses for GH#1. $18.50 per month.
Richmond Dispatch 11/13/1862; John Haley, 1SC, drunk, sent to Castle Thunder; John Norman, free negro, ordered a “thrashing” for disturbing the peace near the “new Alms-House.”
William A. Carrington CSR (M331) (no. 36) 11/19/1862; Inspection Report, with sketches
Richmond Dispatch 11/26/1862; City council minutes: quarter ending 10/31/1862 at Shockoe – 291 white males, total interned – 384, plus 189 negroes; basement of Mechanics’ Hall crowded by storage of 100 benches owned by the city
Richmond Dispatch 12/9/1862; City Council: discusses CSA smallpox hospital, now near corner 25th & Cary; 798 kegs of powder in city magazine; sells settees from Mechanics’ Hall to Govt., for use of patients at Chimborazo Hospital
Richmond Enquirer 12/16/1862; Martha Ball, nurse at GH#1, convicted of being a "woman of the town"
Report of Hospital Committee 1862; Congressional report describing the Richmond hospital system. Notes that State hospitals are superior to the Government ones. Describes the "Bird's Island Hospital" as "obnoxious," but describes the General Hospital, Banner Hospital, and Royster's factory favorably. Says that Royster's is a "model of neatness." Also comments negatively on the system of furloughs and discharges
Report of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War 1863; prisoner's account of harsh treatment in Richmond. Notes that while at the General Hospital (GH#1) he was well-treated; at the tobacco warehouse he was not. Also notes that "a lady named Van Lew" helped provide for him while in prison until she was stopped by prison authorities
William A. Carrington CSR (M331) (no. 26) 1/7/1863; Memo regarding gangrene at Genl. Hospls. #1, 8, 10, 4, and the Louisiana Hospl.
RG 109, Ch. 6, Vol. 416, pp. 22-24 1/8/1863; Carrington writes on the baking of bread in Richmond hospitals, urges the construction of ovens. Gives great details on the Chimborazo Bakery. Notes that GH1, GH4, Winder, Chimborazo and the South Carolina hospital all have their own ovens. GH9 and GH13 mentioned.
Richmond Whig 1/19/1863; Small Pox patients at GH#1
Richmond Enquirer 5/7/1863; 1,000+ wounded men brought to Richmond; the severely wounded are taken to General Hospital #1
Richmond Sentinel 6/4/1863; people are stealing flowers from Hollywood and Shockoe cemeteries
Judith McGuire Notes 7/23/1863; many anecdotes relating to Judith McGuire's service at Robertson Hospital - Sally Tompkins mentioned repeatedly; her husband gets a job at the "Officers' Hospital" (GH#1) as post chaplain (7/23/1863) and has a description of visiting Shockoe Cemetery after helping him there; mentions nursing briefly at Jackson Hospital, and gives a description of the place
Richmond Sentinel 8/10/1863; list of hospitals in Richmond and to which hospitals soldiers from the various states are sent
Richmond Sentinel 9/21/1863; list of hospitals in Richmond and to which hospitals soldiers from the various states are sent
Richmond Sentinel 10/3/1863; Gen. Winder wants to move all POWs to from Castle Thunder to the Alms House (GH#1)
Richmond Examiner 10/5/1863; city wants Almshouse (GH#1) back for the poor
Richmond Daily Whig 10/6/1863; Gen. Winder wants General Hospital #1 as a prison
Official Records, Ser. I, Vol. XXXIII, pp. 1179-1180 1/25/1864; Moore directs that patients be moved from Winder & GH#1 to Jackson.
National Archives, RG 109, Ch. 6, Vol. 709, pt. 1, p. 18 1/28/1864; patients from General Hospital #1 and Howard's Grove are to be sent to Chimborazo; rescinds the order closing down unoccupied Divisions of Chimborazo
Richmond Whig 2/24/1864; lamentation that the Confederate Government will not give the Alms House back to the city. Notes that "Chimborazo, Camp Winder, Howard’s Grove, etc., afford ample room for all the sick and wounded soldiers brought to this military department" and if they fill up, there are many other places to put the patients
Richmond Whig 3/14/1864; henhouse of Mr. John Pearce, keeper of the Almshouse, was burglarized
National Archives, RG 109, Ch. 6, Vol. 364, p. 38 3/31/1864; Carrington desires to turn over the Alms House to the city, but no response has come from them
RG 109, Ch. 6, Vol. 151, p. 1 9/1862 - 5/1864; Statistics of General Hospital #1 - hospital closed after March, 1864
National Archives, RG 109, Ch. 6, Vol. 364, p. 103 6/1/1864; Surgeon of GH#4 is directed to open a new hospital for officers at the alms house, "formerly GH#1."
CSMSJ Vol. I, No. 7 7/1864; report of Surg. Charles Bell Gibson of a plastic surgeon operation at General Hospital No. 1 (includes engraving)
Richmond Sentinel 8/5/1864; items from the Mayor's docket: two negro girls are thrashed for calling a white man "poor white trash;" a boy escapee from the Alms House is sent back there after stoning a man at the Petersburg depot
Richmond Whig 8/8/1864; General Hospital #1 described.
Richmond Whig 9/3/1864; man charged with stealing hogs from the "almshouse hospital" (GH1)

Richmond Sentinel

11/12/1864; VMI will commence its term starting Dec. 1 at the Alms House; all faculty and cadets requested to report at that time

Richmond Sentinel

11/12/1864; order from Superintendent of VMI for cadets and faculty to report to the Alms House for the next term, and details financial arrangements

Richmond Sentinel

12/5/1864; VMI Board of Visitors approves the occupation of the Alms House, and city agrees to rent it to them

Richmond Whig 12/5/1864; Letter to editor concerning its efficiency

Richmond Sentinel

12/12/1864; a conductor on the Fredericksburg railroad is shot by a criminal and dies at the "officers’ hospital (City Alms House)." Gives a list of the doctors who treated him

Richmond Sentinel

12/18/1864; Alms House rented to VMI for $15,000 a year

Hughes, Thomas. A Boy's Experiences in the Civil War 1860-1865, 1904 late 1864; excellent description of the VMI cadets' use of the Alms House as barracks and classrooms and cadet life in general; also mentions the cadets tending Confederate graves in Hollywood cemetery after the war
Richmond Whig 4/7/1865; 8 paupers at the Alms House were killed in the city magazine explosion
Richmond Whig 4/24/1865; Dr. Charles Bell Gibson, former surgeon of GH#1, has died
Richmond Whig 4/27/1865; Description of the explosion of the City Magazine on evacuation night and damage to the almshouse
William Klinger CSR, M331 various dates; supply lists for GH#1

In the National Archives

Record Group 109, (ch. VI, vol. 764). 1/2 in. Reports of Resection Cases, General Hospital No. 1. 1862-64. Narrative reports of surgeons, showing patient's name, rank and organization, date and nature of wound, description of operation performed, progress and disposition of case, and name of surgeon making report and hospital or organization to which assigned. The volume is labeled "Dr. H. L. Thomas" and it is probable that the reports were made to Dr. Thomas, Assistant Surgeon at General Hospital No. 1, Richmond. The reports are arranged numerically; a name index is in the back of the volume.
Record Group 109, (ch. VI, vol. 711). 2 in. Morning Reports of Patients and Attendants, General Hospitals No. 1-4, 7-8, 12-20, 22-23, and 25-27. 1862-65. 1 vol. Daily reports showing the number of patients in hospital, in private quarters, received, returned to duty, transferred, furloughed, deserted, discharged, died, and remaining; the number of medical officers, stewards, nurses, cooks, and laundresses present for duty; and remarks. Arranged by hospital number, thereunder chronologically, and thereunder by State of patient's organization. The dates given are inclusive; not all hospitals have reports for all dates.

Page last updated on 07/17/2008