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Beyond " Red Rover ", Our Nurses Afloat

Discussion in 'The Ladies Tea' started by JPK Huson 1863, Aug 21, 2016.

  1. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    This has always been baffling. We tend to see " Hospital ship Red Rover " and less commonly " Hospital Ship Nashville "- behemoths reminiscent of Noah's Ark, by way of illustrations. Many storied gentle monsters of healing, Lousia May Alcott remembers their constant docking less fondly, grisly cargo delivered far too regularly to Washington hospitals during her well documented ( and nearly fatal ) service as nurse to wounded.
    hosp ship rr vicksburg.jpg
    Hospital Ship Red Rover at Vicksburg. Red Rover saw service to some of our first African American nurses as well as a veritable fleet in themselves amongst Civil War nurses. Her battered condition tells of a long, long war, perhaps is eloquent of each soul carried on board and the other battles stubbornly waged within.

    Two photographs from City Point show a Sanitary Commission ' barge ', so far unnamed. Constant references to nurses serving in the Hospital Transport Services plus Confederate records referencing hospital ships beg the question " Where in heck were the other hospital ships? " Predictably, one terrific answer lies in a great entry from the Civil War Women blog. http://civilwarwomenblog.com/civil-war-nurses-on-hospital-ships/
    " Civil War Nurses On Hospital Ships " . She is so good. I'm not using any of her research on purpose. It's a great article and must have taken many hours both researching and posting.

    hosp ship nashville.jpg
    This thread would be far too long if each ship's history is given. This is Hospital Ship Nashville, the ' other ' well-known hospital ship shown here as a hive of activity. As well it should.

    " On the Pamunkey, 19 ships moved 700 wounded each day " :. That's from Wiki, not a direct quote, paraphrasing. Nineteen! These would be hospital transport ships, I'm not sure how they compared to each other. They would still require nurses and cots and staff- and a name. Who were they?

    " A second force of ships, inland, moved 600 a day. These 16 ships brought them north, to Ohio, Missouri and Kentucky " ( again, paraphrasing from Wiki ) All ships could, in emergency, by wildly overloaded. This would overload the waiting hospitals hence was extremely frowned on- it sometimes occurred. 35 ships moving 1,300 wounded daily. Included in these numbers doesn't seem to be those hospital ships the Sanitary Commission transferred to the army.

    Red Rover (Mississippi River) later transferred to Navy
    City of Memphis (Ohio River)
    City of Nashville
    City of Louisiana, Renamed R. C. Wood (Ohio River)
    D. A. January*

    It was a massive endeavor- with a huge amount of staff- nurses, doctors, naval men who of course made the endless loops on behalf of wounded. And the ships. Wiki gives a list, am unsure if it is complete. Would love to find all the nurses but that is impossible without the nurses themselves. Perhaps they will slowly appear, attracted by old deeds, names not heard for a century and a half, patients cared for and lost or won.

    Hospital Ship " Nellie Baker ", had her autograph book go up for auction not long ago. Speaking of war and wounded and terrifying nights, hopefully the purchaser will share the rest of the entries with us.

    hosp ship nellie baker.jpg

    hosp ship america.jpg
    Steamer " America ', refitted post war became elegant again.


    hosp ship ben cambell.jpg
    Steamer Hospital Ship Ben Campbell


    hosp ship city point san comm.jpg

    A nameless Sanitary Commission barge docked on the waterfront, to the right,- there are 2 other photos, wish we had the names.


    hosp ship Daniel Webster mail hospital ship.jpg
    The Daniel Webster was also a hospital ship.

    hosp ship elm city.jpg
    Steamer Elm City, hospital ship

    hosp ship john brooks boston.jpg
    Here's Steamer John Brooks at home in Boston, not sure if there are other images.

    hosp ship state of maine.jpg
    " State of Maine ', has to be a favorite hospital ship, transport.

    hosp ship steamer san comm DAJanuary2.jpg
    This is sketch of " DA January, one of the big hospital ships. It is very tough t believe there would not be other photographs containing this ship. Bet the January is in a photo somewhere and just hasn't been identified.

    hosp ship rr3.jpg
    Inside the Red Rover, Hospital Ship. We've see how massive these rooms were in peace time, must have made incredible hospitals.

    hosp ships names.JPG
    Some ships of the Sanitary Commission, obviously not the entire fleet above.

    Hoping to come up with nurses serving on specific ships for this thread, too, it's just extremely time consuming. They deserve the recognition. if anyone knows of ship and nurse, or wounded and ship, please feel free to add? Union or Confederate, all are needed, please.


     

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  3. nitrofd

    nitrofd Colonel Forum Host

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    Really nice post annie.a different side of the war that we rarely see.
     
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  4. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Lt. Colonel

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    "Red Rover" is noted prominently because she was the U.S. Navy's first hospital-on-a-vessel (I can't really call her a 'hospital ship' when vessels on the river were traditionally called "boats" no matter what size they were), but, as Annie has wonderfully pointed out, there were many more, mostly Army vessels (the Army maintained a huge 'navy' of its own, as they did in many conflicts).
     
  5. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    Thanks very much, Mark! Really had no idea these boats ( oops ) were so pervasive- not to that extent. Should have known better- Alcott's journal sure speaks of them and various nurses refer to more than Red Rover, to be sure. The thing is, we ignore the front line nurses who were men, poor guys. They had to staff a large contingent, not being aware women were supposed to be nurses, not men.

    And it's funny- now looking on military sites for lists. As well intended as various Wikis may be, seem terribly incomplete when compared to Army records of services rendered, you know? Plus, boats for some reason passed ownership between Army and Sanitary Commission?

    Found a horrible passage where wounded at first were carried on gun boats, and how they had to be literally tossed clear of guns, poor guys- emergencies sprang up out of nowhere and you can imagine! Will dig up the info again- one general was tearing his hair, seeing how ridiculous it all was. Some fabulous amount of cash was obtained and this veritable luxury liner for wounded, the Red Rover, was born. BUT, it's all anyone refers to now- sometimes Nashville and Daniel Webster. Dozens of floating hospitals, as you say, - ambulances but they had to care for patients, also, and seem to have gone from plain sight. There were a fair amount in Southern waters too we never hear of.

    As big a pain and involved as a thread like this might be ( ok, admit it'll be a blast- nurses and ships, and trying to go dig them up, HA! ), it has to be awfully important this crucial part of nursing and transporting wounded be corrected. Between nurse diaries and those of various wounded soldiers, guessing personal accounts are out there.

    If anyone knows where the Nellie Baker autograph book ended up, it would be great to know! If museum bought it, it is possible they would allow us to see some pages.
     
  6. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Annie another interesting thread. Great pictures of the boats.
     
  7. nitrofd

    nitrofd Colonel Forum Host

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    The only ships in our navy today that are called boats are our submarines.
     
  8. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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  9. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    A nurse who was on government ship North America was Eleanor C. "Mother" Ransom. She was on ship when it sank off coast of Florida. It sank on Dec. 22, 1864 and 203 Union soldiers (patients) were lost. Mrs. Ransom was placed in a life boat and survived. She was heart broken to see her patients drown and could do nothing to save them.

    see her Memorial on Find A Grave.

    http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=74595993
     
  10. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Lt. Colonel

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    I'm not 100% certain off the top of my head regarding boats fitted as hospitals specifically, but as a general rule, the Army did not actually "own" its boats-- the majority of them were chartered from private ownership by the Quartermaster Department, and it would not surprise me if a boat was working for the Army at one point, and the Sanitary Commission at another. (Navy boats such as gunboats required more conversion and tailoring, which would tend to prevent much of that easy back-and-forth.)
     
  11. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    What a change from Bull Run, where everyone held a war and forgot to bring the band aids! Although battles continued to overwhelm, like Gettysburg where wounded lay undiscovered only through lack of hands available to collect them ( not neglect, Heaven knows. The caring was there. ) this system whereby wounded were transported grew incredibly sophisticated. I mean wow. What really strikes you is the amount of wounded men there must have been gathered from all corners of the war, funneled carefully to hospitals.

    Also what hits you is the huge amount of organization it must have taken- mind boggling. I'm getting overwhelmed just looking for which to present first, nurses or ships or both. What beats me is how something so massive and of such importance can have left such small impressions. The shipwreck Donna spoke of killed 194 soldiers. Horrible wreck and big news- steamer North America carrying all those wounded was a shocking loss even in the middle of a bloody war.
    http://civilwarwomenblog.com/civil-war-nurses-on-hospital-ships/ As usual, the Civil War Women blog memorialized Nurse Ransom. Cannot find a lithograph of the " North America ". Google " Civil War ship North America ", you'll see the problem.

    By the way, cannot recommend this site enough- she's quite wonderful, Confederate, Union, black, white- our women of the war are carefully documented, stories told, faces frequently pulled from History for the first time in 150 years.

    Not done with this thread- it's far more massive than I thought. Gosh. Terrific though. Sorry, really like ships so it's awfully nice being able to tool around these sites for Ladies Tea. Just know zip about that war- this portion of it is much, much more extensive than I knew. Really, than it seems we've been ' told '. Guessing archived books and newspapers.com will help.
     
  12. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    hosp ship maybe fannybullittsteamship.jpg
    Some faithful searcher believes one of these steamers to be the Fanny Bullitt, a refitted hospital ship. Thankfully, those waterway watchers who know their stuff seem to browse the era photos in search of ' lost ' ships.

    hosp ship rr frm cwt orig.jpg
    Included this despite having other photos of the Red Rover as a foil to her Vicksburg photograph. " And miles to go before we sleep .... " Such a difference, this more freshly painted boat, the worn and blackened and begrimed Vicksburg Rover.

    hosp ship san comm barge crop snip.JPG
    Snipped the nameless Sanitary Commission 'barge' from an LoC photo of dockside, at City Point.

    hosp wharf city point argo - Copy.jpg
    USS Argo, at the hospital wharf.
     
  13. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Annie

    Thanks for catching mistake I had on the ship wreck with Mrs. Ransom. It was 203 soldiers on board and 194 died.. It still was a great loss.
     
  14. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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  15. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    Oh heck Donna, I didn't mean to catch a mistake- all the papers have different numbers, too! You should see them! It was terrible losing one soldier!
     
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  16. Anna Elizabeth Henry

    Anna Elizabeth Henry 2nd Lieutenant Silver Patron

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    Thanks @JPK Huson 1863 for bringing to light this often overlooked aspect of nursing. I had read some first hand accounts of women nurses on ships on the rivers, I believe in Virginia during the Peninsula Campaign if my memory serves me right, the conditions were quite appalling. Very understaffed and extremely short on supplies. The miracles those ladies worked was incredible.

    What a brave lady! That had to be one of the single most horrible things she probably experienced in her whole life. She has a lovely memorial page. I'm glad she lived to be 95! Bless her!
     
  17. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    Having some terrific luck with boats and era papers! Am finding articles frequently did not mention a name but would just say ' a hospital ship '. BUT- others spoke of these ships we haven't really heard of as if they were quite well known at the time. Interesting! Bet it will not be too tough, finding staff serving on them.

    hosp boat ben morgan 1861 nov.JPG
    " The hulk Ben Morgan has been turned into a hospital ship " 1861

    hosp boat brandywine 1861.JPG

    The Brandywine, hospital ship


    hosp boat brandywine pic.jpg



    hosp boat elm city 1862.JPG hosp boat elm city 1862 2.JPG hosp boat elm city 1862 3.JPG

    " Elm City " 1862

    hosp boat enterpe 1862.JPG
    " Enterpe " 1862

    hosp boat europe.JPG

    " Europe "

    hosp boat ft henry.JPG
    Fort Henry , unnamed hospital ship

    hosp boat guerilla1.JPG hosp boat guerilla2 jan 1862.JPG
    " Guerrilla " 1862

    hosp boat nightingale post war.JPG
    " Nightingale " post war by a few months, 1865


    hosp boat preble 1862.JPG hosp boat preble pic.jpg

    " Preble "

    hosp boat st mark 1862 2.JPG
    " St. Mark "

    These are just a few, still working on them- one article sites the male nurse required on board, another The Sisters of Mercy taking over care.









     
  18. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    hosp boat planter new.jpg
    " Planter ", put to other uses post war.

    hosp boat superior.JPG

    " Superior "

    hosp boat woodford.JPG
    Here's one we've heard of more than the other's at least, " Woodford "

     
  19. nitrofd

    nitrofd Colonel Forum Host

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    The print of the Brandywine would look good on my wall.
     
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  20. nitrofd

    nitrofd Colonel Forum Host

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  21. Suzanne A

    Suzanne A Corporal

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    If you read the Carded Medical Records of Civil War soldiers, which caption the name of the hospital the soldier is in, you will find these ships called Hospital Steamers by the Army. Hospital Steamer carded medical records are often part of a soldiers medical file if he was transported in this manner (there is not a record of every transport though -- all medical records that remain are spotty). I cannot recall if the name of the ship appearing on these. Next time I'm at the Archives, I'll check.

    For a nurse's account of her experience on one of these Hosptial Steamers, this one on the Mississippi (I'll have to pull up the text of the ebook to see if she mentions the name of the steamer), read the posthumous diary, made up by her father from her letters home, of Emily Elizabeth Parsons, the head of nurse at Benton Barracks Hospital, called "Fearless Purpose: A Blind Nurse in the Civil War". She was "blind" in one eye because of a childhood accident with scissors. She was a well-educated New England young woman without prospects for marriage (maybe by choice) who determinedly made herself into an exemplary nurse. She was always advocating and manoeuvering for better conditions for her patients.

    https://www.amazon.com/Fearless-Pur...less+purpose:++a+Blind+Nurse+in+the+Civil+War

    If people are interested, I'll copy out the text pertaining to her experiences on the Steamer.

    During the War, the Union determined that it was most efficient and most beneficial to the patients to transport them from field hospital to the larger regional general hospitals by water, and a network of waterway s was actually created just for this purpose, which probably fell into disuse after the War. I tried to find a map of these at one point, and there must have been such maps, but without success. I'm sure one of you readers would do better??
     

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