Hospitals: Why Captains Didn't Know Where Their Men Were

lelliott19

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With this explanation I hope the friends will not attribute it to indifference on the part of the Captain or Lieutenants.
This might be the best primary source I've ever run across, that explains in the simplest terms, why carded records for Confederate soldiers are such a mess. It confirms precisely what we've all suspected - that once a man left the Regimental Hospital and was transported to a General Hospital, there was no way to keep up with where he was or his condition. There were too many hospitals, scattered over too large an area, and too many transfers from one hospital to another. It also helps us understand why so many families never learned the location of their loved one's death. As more records are scanned into databases and made searchable, some families are now able to discover where their ancestor died - 155+ years later - even if previous generations never knew before. @lupaglupa

Source: The Rome Weekly Courier. (Rome, Ga.), August 28, 1863, page 1.
 

lupaglupa

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What a great find @lelliott19! Yes, this fits with what we long suspected - that the system was too chaotic to generate reliable and/or consistent records. And while is it frustrating for those of us doing research into the past, it must have been heart-breaking for those trying to find loved ones during the war.
 

A. Roy

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With this explanation I hope the friends will not attribute it to indifference on the part of the Captain or Lieutenants.
This might be the best primary source I've ever run across, that explains in the simplest terms, why carded records for Confederate soldiers are such a mess. It confirms precisely what we've all suspected - that once a man left the Regimental Hospital and was transported to a General Hospital, there was no way to keep up with where he was or his condition. There were too many hospitals, scattered over too large an area, and too many transfers from one hospital to another. It also helps us understand why so many families never learned the location of their loved one's death. As more records are scanned into databases and made searchable, some families are now able to discover where their ancestor died - 155+ years later - even if previous generations never knew before. @lupaglupa

Source: The Rome Weekly Courier. (Rome, Ga.), August 28, 1863, page 1.

Yes, this is a useful piece of information. I've been studying the list of Gettysburg Confederate dead (using Krick and Ferguson's "Gettysburg Confederate Dead"), trying to understand the ultimate burial places of the dead from Iverson's four NC regiments.

In a number of cases where the soldier was mortally wounded and died sometime later, the burial location is listed as "Unknown." The comment often says something like "Mortally wounded - died at unknown place in Gettysburg." That makes me think the soldier must have died at a field hospital, or maybe Camp Letterman, if he lingered long enough. So I've wondered, if the soldier was in a hospital and was known to have died (and even his date of death being known in many cases), why would his death and burial places be "unknown"? From what you're saying here, one good possibility is that the records were just a jumble. (Understandable, given the difficulties of caring for thousands of wounded.)

Roy B.
 

Tom Elmore

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To give one example, I've seen detailed hospital records (hand-written ledgers) covering specific dates from Chimborazo in Richmond, but there were many hospitals in the city, and I suspect most of those ledgers were lost, burned or discarded at the end of the war. I suppose during the war an interested party would have to visit the hospital and peruse the ledgers - if they knew which hospital and approximate dates of admission. I've been assembling a list of patients and physicians at the Huguenot Springs convalescent hospital just outside of Richmond and have gathered bits and pieces of information from many sources, one of the more important being the Compiled Service Records of individual soldiers. As was mentioned, only with the computer information age of the last three decades can we now compile and integrate such data from many sources, both readily accessible and obscure, to give us a more comprehensive picture than has ever been possible.
 

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