From the Richmond Whig, 9/12/1862, p. 1, c. 6
To the Honorable Committee appointed by Congress to
investigate the Condition of Hospitals.
GENTLEMEN, - Camp Winder is situated in the Western suburbs
of the City of Richmond, near the Reservoir, in an elevated position, fourteen
feet above the highest summit of the surrounding country, and was established
last fall by the Confederate Government, to serve as winter quarters for the
army of Richmond. It was so occupied until the 7th of last April,
when the undersigned was ordered to duty there, and being the ranking medical
officer, took command of over one thousand sick, who were found in miserable
filthy camps, destitute of whitewash or drainage, and with the offal of
provisions and the filth of soldiers accumulated during the winter months.
Steps were immediately taken to organize a Hospital; clean
out and whitewash the buildings and drain the streets – and I have the honor to
report that through the able and efficient head of the Medical Department, and
the cooperation of the Honorable Secretary of War and Gen. John H. Winder, I was
enabled, in the short space of less than three months, to organize all the
Divisions of General Hospital Camp Winder into its present mammoth proportions.
It consists of 140 shanties or tenements, (with good
shingle roofs and rough floors,) arranged in mathematical order, over an area of
twenty acres of ground, with every street raised or graded, and otherwise so
well drained that no water and little mud accumulate after rains. The shanties
are exactly the same size and height, and about 80 feet long by 35 wide, a brick
chimney pierced for two iron stoves rising through the centre of each. There are
over 100 wards for the sick, with 38 beds in each for the sick and 3 for ward
master and nurses; so that when fully occupied there is a collection of morbid
and sound humanity of more than 4,000 men – besides, we have a host of female
nurses and cooks. Three wards are under the treatment of an assistant surgeon,
allowing him, if all his beds are in use, 120 patients. Attached to each
Division – for the entire Hospital is divided into five, designated by flags, -
is a division surgeon and as many assistant surgeons as his wards require. Over
the whole, to whom all other surgeons are accountable, is a Chief Surgeon of
Hospital, whose quarters are marked by a Confederate flag. They daily business
and administration of each division is totally independent of the other – every
one having its own kitchen, dining room, laundry and apothecary store. The whole
Hospital is provided with good baker’s bread, from a bakery attached to it.
Also, a bath-house, containing the most approved Russian steam, shower and
plunge baths, with capacity to bathe 500 daily.
We have, also, a military and police guard, a quarter
master and commissary department attached to the Hospital, so that in the
completeness and magnitude of its arrangements it may well claim to be the
largest Hospital of the Government.
It will be see, by the monthly reports of this Institution,
that 22,874 cases have been treated, of which number 1,271 have died, exactly 5
˝ per cent.
Every day’s experience convinces me of the great value of
female influence and labor here, not of mercenary ignorant Irish nurses, but
ladies of intelligence and refinement, whose good sense and long experience make
them angels of mercy at the bedside of the poor, emaciated soldier. Among a few
of the first class we have several noble examples of the latter. I must name to
your honorable body Mrs. Frazer and Mrs. Jones of Virginia, Mrs. Lockwood of
South Carolina, and Mrs. Dana of Mississippi. There are others who distribute
their valuable services and charities among the wards of this Hospital. I allude
to an Association (worthy of a vote of thanks from Congress in behalf of their
labors as good Samaritans in our hospitals, extending their blessings, not only
to your constituency at home, but to our whole country,) headed by Mrs. G. W.
Randolph, Mrs. Webb, Mrs. Grant, Miss Mitchell and Miss Nicholas of Richmond. As
constant as the sun in its course has been their daily ministrations at the
couch of sick and wounded soldiers of this Hospital from its organization.
The Surgeon General has recently authorized me to
constitute three division surgeons an examining board, whose duty it is to
examine and consider daily (except Sundays) the claims of patients for furloughs
and discharges. The Chief Surgeon of Hospital is provided by General Winder with
blank passports and furloughs, signed by the proper constituted authority, and
is also authorized to order transportation in cases needed. Thanks to the
honored head of this arrangements for the sick soldier, which I am glad to state
works admirably, and enables the convalescent (provided with all things needful)
to start for his home in less than twenty hours after he is granted a furlough.
I pray that this arrangement may be made permanent in all our general hospitals
as I find it gives satisfaction to all parties, and will lift from our
department much of the unavoidable complaint that has been made against it.
The medical department with an exhausted supply of physic –
its poor officers without medicines, without a proper commissariat to feed his
sick – with a deficient quartermaster department to clothe and transport his
patients – with oftentimes an unwillingness on the part of the military to
detail him a nurse or a cook – unaided and alone he buffets the storm of public
abuse, and is held responsible for all complaint, though he work himself to
death. It is true this remark is not applied to all, yet hurling an army of
500,000 men and 2,000 doctors into the field in the short space of twelve
months, it is impossible always to put the right men in the right places, and it
is my honest belief that when the abuses in the department upon which ours
depend are rectified by Congress, it will lift itself above the jeers and
complaints of its present enemies.
I am, gentlemen, in a sense of high appreciation of your
Very respectfully, your obedient
A. G. L. [Lane],