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Montgomery White Sulphur Springs Hospital

Discussion in 'Medical Care of the Civil War' started by donna, May 8, 2013.

  1. donna

    donna Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    Montgomery White Sulphur Springs was once a thriving resort located in a valley in Montgomery County, Virginia It opened in 1856 with the capacity to accommodate 1000 guests. It became the place to go. It was close to the Virginia-Tennessee Railroad, so had easy access.

    In the spring of 1861, resort representatives started negotiations with the Confederate government to turn Montgomery White Sulphur Springs into a general hospital. General Hospitals received the injured, seriously wounded, and postoperative patients. Because patients were usually sent by train, location of a general hospital near railroad access was vital. Thus, the location of Montgomery White Sulphur Springs resort was ideal.

    Once plans for converting the resort to a hospital were completed, medical supplies and doctors were assigned. The Sisters of Mercy, originally from Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy in Charleston, S.C., and all medical personnel were moved to the hospital from the Greenbrier Hospital in western Virginia because of Northern forces in the area. Local women were employed or volunteered to care for the patients, and slave labor was used as needed. In May 1862, the hospital officially opened.

    At the time the hospital opened, General Robert E, Lee and his army were fighting in the Shenandoah Valley and the need for a nearby hospital was great. By August, 1862, this hospital was at its capacity of 400 sick and wounded soldiers when the order for 3oo more patients was issued. With so many to care for, soldiers as well as recovering patients were detailed to help with nursing duties.

    In November, 1862, the hospital received its first smallpox case. In January 1863, five more soldiers with smallpox arrived and there were eleven reported smallpox deaths between January and March 1863. However, there has been no evidence to support an oral tradition that there were 100s of deaths due to smallpox.

    Records list soldiers from many Confederate states and some from the Union Army. There were battle and gunshot wounds, smallpox, typhoid, amputees, and those too sick to remain with the army. Designated to accept 400 patients, numbers were often greater. For example in December, 1863 there were 873 patients.

    When the war ended there were more than 300 sick and wounded still being cared for at the hospital. Sixty of those were listed as Union soldiers. When the last soldier left, the remaining nuns and others packed what few possessions they had and left the hospital on May 22, 1865.

    From article "Montgomery White Sulphur Springs", "UDC Magazine, United Daughters of the Confederacy", March, 2013, by Lynn Reed, pages 17-18.
     
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  3. donna

    donna Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    Although no military battles were fought on the grounds of the hospital, the resort would never be the same. There are three cemeteries on the grounds. These are the Nuns Cemetery, the Soldiers Cemetery and the Slaves Cemetery. The Soldier's Cemetery has 265 graves. These graves are tended by a Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. There are markers for each grave which was placed in 1926. The markers read "Lest We Forget. To the Memory of the Confederate Soldiers 1861-1865."
     
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  4. donna

    donna Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    Another interesting fact is that the resort reopened on July 1, 1869 and became a favorite place for Confederate veteran reunions. Among those who met at the resort were L.L.A. Blues from Louisiana, the Montogomery True Blues of Montgomery, Alabama and the Fitz Lee Camp.

    By 1872 many Confederate leaders were guests at the resort. It is said as many as 20 former Generals registered at one time, including Generals Early, Beauregard and Hardee. The Stonewall Brigade Association was formed at the resort to raise money for a General Stonewall Jackson monument.

    Other prominent guests were Jefferson Davis, Mrs. Fitzhugh Lee and family, and later joined by her husband then Governor Fitzhugh Lee, and Miss Varnia A. Davis, daughter of Jefferson Davis in 1888.

    So the Montgomery White Sulphur Springs has a colorful history from its original time as a resort, its time as a Hospital for the Confederacy, and its re-opening as a resort. It is always a special place and also has the 3 cemeteries that should be maintained and honored.
     
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  5. Littlestown

    Littlestown 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    By the early-1800s, several mineral springs resorts had opened within Virginia's New River Valley region. Most of the mineral springs resorts of this region were located in Montgomey County. The map of 1856 shows the location of the early springs resorts in the county.
    Montgomery-Springs-Resorts-1856.jpg
    Montgomery White Sulphur Springs was located about one and three-quarter miles north of the V&T railroad station at Big Tunnel, near present-day Shawsville. The resort is referred to as as one "of recent discovery and improvement" in a 1859 publication. The resort opened in 1855 and was closed in 1904.
    Montgomery-Springs-Resort 1.jpg
    Montgomery-Springs-Resort  pavillion.jpg
     

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