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)

Dr. Mary Edwards Walker practiced medicine at Louisville female prison, won the Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Contract Acting Assistant Surgeon (civilian), U. S. Army.

Places and dates:

  • Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861
  • Patent Office Hospital, Washington, D.C., October 1861
  • Chattanooga, Tenn., following Battle of Chickamauga, September 1863
  • Prisoner of War, April 10, 1864 – August 12, 1864, Richmond, Va.
  • Battle of Atlanta, September 1864.

Entered service at: Louisville, Ky.

Born: 26 November 1832, Oswego County, N.Y.

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Her Medal of Honor citation reads:

Whereas it appears from official reports that Dr. Mary E. Walker, a graduate of medicine, “has rendered valuable service to the Government. and her efforts have been earnest and _____ in a variety of ways,” and that she was assigned to duty and served as an assistant surgeon in charge of female prisoners at Louisville, Ky., upon the recommendation of Major Generals Sherman and Thomas, and faithfully served as contract surgeon in the service of the United States, and has devoted herself with much patriotic zeal to the sick and wounded soldiers, both in the field and hospitals, to the detriment of her own health, and has also endured hardships as a prisoner of war four months in a Southern prison while acting as contract surgeon; and

Whereas by reason of her not being a commissioned officer in the military service, a brevet or honorary rank cannot, under existing laws, be conferred upon her; and

Whereas in the opinion of the President an honorable recognition of her services and sufferings should be made:

It is ordered, That a testimonial thereof shall be hereby made and given to the said Dr. Mary E. Walker, and that the usual medal of honor for meritorious services be given her.

Given under my hand in the city of Washington, D.C., this 11th day of November, A.D. 1865.

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(Medal rescinded 1917 along with 910 others, restored by President Carter 10 June 1977.)

Steamboat ‘Jacob Strader’ – U.S. mail packet, also used to ferry soldiers around Louisville

Jacob Strader, Esq. (1795-1860) was a steamboat owner, banker (Cist names him as President and solicitor of the Commercial Bank in 1851), lawyer and President of the Little Miami Railroad. He sat on the Board of Trustees of the Cincinnati Medical College.

The steamboat “Jacob Strader,” was launched in Cincinnati in 1853 and named for this prominent citizen. Built for the U.S. Mail Line, the sidewheeler ran a regular Cincinnati to Louisville packet route. During the Civil War, she carried supplies to Union troops for the U.S. Sanitary Commission, as well as carrying wounded and sick soldiers.

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Louisville military hospital #8 – later Monsarrat School

Nashville had 20-25 military hospital hospitals operating at any given time during the Civil War. At peak capacity, Nashville hospitals had roughly 14,000 men being treated, including hundreds of Confederates, even during the Union occupation that began in February 1862.

Nashville was the second largest military hospital network devoted to Union-use. Only Philadelphia had a larger military hospital system. As large as the Nashville military hospital system was, it could still could handle the amount of casualties that strained her capacity.

Thousands of wounded and sick Union soldiers were initially treated in a Nashville hospital and then routed to Evansville, Louisville or Jeffersonville for care in their respective hospitals. Many Union casualties from the Franklin-Nashville campaign were taken to Louisville for medical care.

One such Louisville hospital was #8, which later became known as the Monsarrat School (below at 784 S. 5th St.). The U.S. wagon and harness shops were nearby.

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Hospital #8 in Louisville, later known as Monsarrat School.

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Text from the historical marker on site:

The Fifth Ward School was built in 1857 on the site of a former school which burned in 1854. The Italian Renaissance Revival styled school was designed by Isaiah Rogers and Henry Whitestone. The building features 9-foot arched windows to allow maximum light into the classrooms.

During the Civil War the building was used by the Union Army as a hospital. After the Civil War the boundaries within Louisville were changed the the school became known as the Seventh Ward School.