Nov 17, 1864 – 36th Illinois soldier writes mother in Newark (ILL) from Jefferson General Hospital in Jeffersonville, Indiana

Camp Joe Holt Hospital, Jeffersonville, Indiana

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November 17, 1864

Dear Mother,

Camp Joe Holt Hospital

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-1-43-40-pmI set down this morning to let you know that I have been moved further north. I got here last night about 9 o’clock. I feel as though I had got into America again. The town and everything looks so much different from what they did in Dixie. Our hospital is situated on the banks of the Ohio River so I can set and watch the boats play up and down the river. Sometimes there is as many as twenty to be seen at a time. [end of page one]

Last night they looked very pretty with their lamps all lit up. I am in hopes that this letter will reach you before [Rable] starts from home for you wouldn’t like to send those Yankees to N*ewark+ While I am here at Jeffersonville. I don’t know but this letter will be rather late. You need’nt send that box until I write again for here we have to get the consent of the Doctor before we can get any which thing in here. Maybe we won’t need it here. I don’t know whether we get any sanataries here or not. I will wait and see before I write for them.

I suppose that Mrs Harriet has commenced her school and that Father has got his [end of page two] corn picked by this time has he not, and you are trying to find something to do on Thanksgiving. Ain’t it most time for *initial indecipherable+ Tremain to get home. I think so if they don’t keep him over his time which they are very apt to do. I notice how are all the neighbors today and I get that letter that letter that I sent to him without the stamps on. I am most out of stamps. I expect I might have some if they would let me stay in one place long enough. I expect I will let me stay here now till they send me to the front and I don’t know for sure that will be. *end of page three+

Well I want this letter to go out in this mornings mail so I will stop writing. Give my love to all and write often. From your boy Franklin

Jefferson U.S. General Hospital Ward 17

Jeffersonville, Indiana
Franklin A. Whitney

Letter source: The Kraig McNutt Civil War Collection

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Post-war photograph of Franklin A. Whitney, 36th Illinois Infantry.
He was listed as from Mission, Illinois, when he enlisted as a Private on 2/29/64. He mustered into Company F, 36th Illinois infantry 3/19/64.
Mustering out 10/8/65 in Washington, D.C.

Camp Joe Holt, Joe Holt Hospital in Jeffersonville, Indiana (circa 1862)

The Indiana Historical Society provides the following information about Camp Joe Holt and Joe Holt Hospital in Jeffersonville, Indiana (c. 1862). Jeffersonville is across from Louisville, Kentucky on the Ohio River.

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The first military occupation at Jeffersonville, Indiana was in 1862 when two area regiments established a camp on a farm owned by Blanton Duncan. Lovell Rousseau, the organizer of the regiments, christened the camp “Camp Joe Holt.” The name was retained when it ceased to be a camp and became a hospital, called throughout the war “Joe Holt Hospital.” During the war, besides the hospital, the government also erected warehouses, shops, barracks, stables, blacksmith shops, a laundry, and a bakery.

Jefferson General Hospital “Joe Holt Hospital” opened 21 February 1864 and closed in December 1866. Located about one-half-mile west of Jeffersonville on land obtained from U.S. Senator Jesse D. Bright, the acreage reached down to the Ohio River, facilitating patient transfer from riverboats to the hospital. The health facility had 24 wards each radiating out like spokes on a wheel and all connected by a corridor one-half mile in circumference. Each ward was 150 feet long and 22 feet wide, and could accommodate 60 patients. Female nurses and matrons were quartered separately from the men. The third largest hospital in the country and a showpiece for the Union army, Jefferson General reputedly was one of the finest in the United States for the care of wounded and sick servicemen. During the almost three years that the hospital was in existence the institution cared for more than 16,000 patients and served more than 2,500,000 meals.

First person accounts of life at the Jefferson General Hospital can be found in two separate diaries at the Indiana Historical Society Library. One is the published book, Hospital Pencillings by Elvira J. Powers. A volunteer and employee at the hospital, she wrote of the conditions at the hospital and her experiences there. The second is the collection SC2742, Louis C. Webber’s Diary, 1864–1866, a soldier who was wounded three times and was a patient there for a while.

Sources:

Baird, Lewis C., Baird’s History of Clark County, Indiana. Evansville, Ind.: Unigraphic, 1972.

Eckerman, Nancy Pippen. Indiana in the Civil War: Doctors, Hospitals, and Medical Care. Chicago: Arcadia Publishing, 2001.

History of the Ohio Falls Cities and Their Counties. Evansville, Ind.: Unigraphic, 1968.

Here is a map clip showing where the hospital was located:

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A letter from a patient records the following about being in Camp Joe Holt:

Our hospital is situated on the banks of the Ohio River so I can set and watch the boats play up and down the river. Sometimes there is as many as twenty to be seen at a time. [end of page one]

Last night they looked very pretty with their lamps all lit up. I am in hopes that this letter will reach you before [Rable] starts from home for you wouldn’t like to send those Yankees to N[ewark] While I am here at Jeffersonville. I don’t know but this letter will be rather late. You need’nt send that box until I write again for here we have to get the consent of the Doctor before we can get any which thing in here. Maybe we won’t need it here. I don’t know whether we get any sanataries here or not. I will wait and see before I write for them.

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Map source: Defenses of Munfordville, Ky. Surveyed and drawn under authority of Maj. J.B. Simpson, Corps of Engineers, U.S.A. … by Corporal Chester M. Slayton … 1863. (with) Defenses of Camp Nelson, Ky., main line across neck of land from Kentucky River to Hickman Creek. Constructed under direction of … J.H. Simpson …, commenced by Capt. O.M. Poe … Finished by J.R. Gilliss … Surveyed and drawn by Geo. B. Nicholson. August, 1864. (with) Louisville and its defenses. Office U.S. Engineers, Cincinnati, O., June 1865. Official: J.H. Simpson … Julius Bien & Co., Lith., N.Y. (1891-1895)

Henry Baker, 74th Indiana letter, “We got to Louisville . . . “

He writes [late Sept 1862]:

We got to Louisville on Monday Evening and here on the Ohio River Sept 23rd [1862], one day later then the other. Sarah we arrived here this afternoon and got our tents up. I thought before this time that we would be in a fight but not yet. Now the citizens are shipping their women and children all across the [Ohio] river. The Rebels sent word that we had to surrender or be drowned in the river but by the time they got us in our shells gave some fun.

Now don’t be uneasy when you get word there the newspaper for they print print just to get money. Now Sarah I[‘ve] been gone 4 times to fight and not yet have the privilege to see a man killed in a fight. Yesterday we had a man killed by the [railroad] cars but this is nothing for we came up with 10,000 on trains to Louisville from Shepherdsville. Now we have about 17,500 here at present and such a lot of one is such a curiosity to see and the ___ ___ in here too.

Now we will take 10,000 Rebels. I know we are put down as a reserve. All the danger in the picket guard that we have to stand. I think about Thursday and then it will be a bad day about the Rebels but I guess we will come right for I have been in some narrow places have no trouble for my safety for I gave my all to God and I trust that if all right I shall see you before Spring. Farewell and  write of get somebody to write for you for I haven’t got but that letter that your Father wrote in Louisville, Direct as before

[Henry Baker, 74th Indiana Infantry]

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Letter owner: The Kraig McNutt Civil War Collection

 

History of the 74th Indiana:

Eight companies of this regiment were organized at Fort Wayne 
in August, 1862, and were mustered in at Indianapolis Aug. 21, 
leaving the state at once for Louisville and proceeding thence 
to Bowling Green.  They returned to Louisville Sept. 5, and 
were assigned to the 2nd brigade, 1st division, Army of the 
Ohio, and joined in pursuit of Bragg.
Source: Union Army, vol 3, p. 157