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Chatham Manor - Union Hospital at Fredericksburg

Discussion in 'Medical Care of the Civil War' started by lelliott19, Feb 9, 2017.

  1. lelliott19

    lelliott19 2nd Lieutenant Forum Host Trivia Game Winner

    Mar 15, 2013
    Image from National Park Service
    At the time of the Civil War, Chatham Manor was owned by James Horace Lacy, a former schoolteacher. A 27 year old plantation owner and slaveholder, Lacy left Chatham to serve the Confederacy as a staff officer. His wife and children remained at the house until the spring of 1862, when Union troops arrived. They abandoned the home and moved across the river. Chatham was occupied by the Union army for the next 13 months. It was first used as headquarters of General Irvin McDowell in April 1862.

    In November 1862, General Ambrose E. Burnside's forces crossed the Rappahannock River below Chatham, seized Fredericksburg, and launched a series of bloody assaults against Lee's Confederates, who held the high ground behind the town. One of Burnside's top generals, Edwin Sumner, observed the battle from Chatham, while Union artillery batteries shelled the Confederates from adjacent bluffs. After the battle, many of the Union casualties were brought back to Chatham Manor for medical care. For several days army surgeons operated tirelessly on hundreds of soldiers inside the house. Assisting them were volunteers, including Clara Barton and poet, Walt Whitman, who wrote:

    Began my visits (Dec. 21) among the camp hospitals in Army of the Potomac, under Gen. BURNSIDE. Spent a good part of the day in a large brick mansion, on the banks of the Rappahannock, immediately opposite Fredericksburgh. It is used as a hospital since the battle, and seems to have received only the worst cases. Out doors, at the foot of a tree, within ten yards of the front of the house, I notice a heap of amputated feet, legs, arms, hands, &c., about a load for a one-horse cart. Several dead bodies lie near, each, covered with its brown woolen blanket. In the door-yard, toward the river, are fresh graves mostly of officers, their names on pieces of barrel-staves or broken board, stuck in the dirt. (Most of these bodies were subsequently taken up and transported North to their friends.)

    The house is quite crowded, everything impromptu, no system, all bad enough, but I have no doubt the best that can be done; all the wounds pretty bad, some frightful, the men in their old clothes, unclean and bloody. Some of the wounded are rebel officers, prisoners. One, a Mississippian -- a Captain -- hit badly in leg, I talked with some time; he asked me for papers which I gave him. (I saw him three months afterward in Washington, with leg amputated, doing well.)

    I went through the rooms, down stairs and up. Some of the men were dying. I had nothing to give at that visit, but wrote a few letters to folks home, mothers, &c. Also talked to three or four, who seemed most susceptible to it, and needing it. ~
    Account of Walt Whitman, New York Times, December 11, 1864. http://www.nytimes.com/1864/12/11/n...washington-field-here-new.html?pagewanted=all
    View of Fredericksburg from Chatham Manor (National Park Service) ww.nps.gov/common/uploads/photogallery/ner/park/frsp/CC149E9B-155D-451F-675F182ECCDB6034/CC149E9B-155D-451F-675F182ECCDB6034-large.jpg
    Ladymacbeth1263 and Podad like this.

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