Armory Square Hospital, Ward B: putting names to the faces

John Hartwell

Forum Host
Aug 27, 2011
Central Massachusetts
We’ve all seen such images before, many times. The indistinct faces of the sufferers, some bed-ridden, but others sitting up, clean and alert, carefully posed to reassure the folks at home that, though they had suffered terribly, they were being given the best of care and made as comfortable as possible. Nobody wanted to see the hospitals at their worst.

These images are of Ward B, at Armory Square Hospital, taken probably in May or June, 1865. I have never seen them before, and can find no copies online -- taken from a pdf file, they are of fairly low resolution. They were preserved among the 26,000 images in the MOLLUS Massachusetts Commandery collection, now at the Army Heritage Education Center in Carlisle, Pa. They appear unique in that the individual soldiers are named on the album pages, though we can rarely make out their faces clearly. A few of the names are slightly garbled (corrections in brackets:[]), but almost all can be identified. (Note: some of the V.R.C. men may be hospital attendants.)



[Vol. 77, No. 3841]
A letter of nurse Nancy Maria Hill to nurse Sarah Low, 12 Jan. 1865:
“I had charge of ‘B’ five weeks -- until Miss Ware came -- it is a dear little ward -- I became so attached to it, and it almost broke my heart to leave it and come to ‘C.’ You see I am a migratory planet -- wandering about in a desert.” []​


[Vol. 77, No. 3842]​

Visible in both pictures are:
Sgt. David R. Barber, Co. B, 14th New Jersey [Wardmaster]​
Cpl. Williamm H. Martland, 60th Illinois​
H. Shelter, 7th Wisconsin​
Samuel Seibert, Co. F, 7th V.R.C. [ex-7th Pennsylvania]​
R. L. Johnstone, 2nd Rhode Island​

Others identified:
on No. 3841
Adolphus Holzchaw: unidentified. The last name is probably garbled (perhaps Holtzclaw?)​
George Bauer, Co. C, 15th New York Heavy Artillery​
Jacob [John] Blunt, Co. D, 7th V.R.C. [ex-Co. B, 21st Massachusetts]​
John Binning [Benning], bugler, Co. E, 6th Michigan Cavalry​
Thomas Kelcher [Keleher], Co. E, 28th Massahusetts​
Jonathan Wallace, Co. F, 21st Georgia [C.S.A.]​
Geo.[James] E. Norwood, Co. H, 9th Georgia [C.S.A.]​

on No. 3842
Sebastian Smith, Co. B, 3rd V.R.C. [Ex-Co. L, 8th New York Cavalry]​
Sgt William Brown, 69th Pennsylvania​
Patrick Garven [Garvey], (“and wife”), Co. E, 4th New Jersey​
Guy C. Masters, Co. C, 12th V.R.C. [ex-Co. I, 9th Ohio Cavalry]​
Percy Warden, 2d Ohio​
John B. Motley, Co. G, 30th Maine​

The two Confederates had almost identical, but mirror-image injuries. Each had a "gunshot fracture of the humerus." Norwood (9th Ga.) had been wounded (right thigh) and taken prisoner at Lee's Mills on February 14, 1865. After treatment at the AoP hospital at City Point, he was sent by hospital ship to Armory Square, where he arrived on March 23. On July 30, he was transferred to Slough General Hospital in Alexandria, and on August 23 to Douglas G.H. in Washington, from which he was discharged on the 29th, "after taking the Oath of Allegiance."

Jonathan Wallace (21st Ga.) received his wound (left thigh) at Fort Stedman on March 25. He, too went by way of City Point to Armory Square (April 10); then to Douglas G.H. late in August. He died there on September, 23 "of dysentery complicated by hospital gangrene."

[all images are credit:]
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