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and occupied by the wounded prisoners of the Northern army from the battle just mentioned [Manassas]. The Confederate wounded from the same battle were treated in private houses, in small, unoccupied wooden buildings, and small tobacco-factories improvised as hospitals. There were serious objections to this method of treatment of the sick and wounded, the principal being the liability of spreading contagious diseases among the inhabitants of the city; the aggregation of so many patients in the necessarily large wards of the factories, thereby contaminating the buildings, rendering them unfit for occupancy; and the impossibility of supplying by these means the further demands of the service.

To meet, as far as practicable, these requirements, the plan was adopted of erecting buildings, each one to be a ward and separate, of undressed planks set upright, calculated for thirty-two beds, with streets running each way, say thirty feet wide. From fifteen to twenty of such wards constituted a division, three or more divisions making a general hospital. Each division was separate and distinct, having all the appliances of a hospital, but under control and supervision of the surgeon in charge of the general hospital. There were five of these hospitals in the suburbs of Richmond, erected in 1861. At a rough estimate, twenty thousand patients were at one time treated at these general hospitals.

The plan proved to be excellent, and the temporary hospital buildings in the city were abandoned as soon as practicable, the larger factories only being retained and used. This segregation of the sick and wounded was highly beneficial. If the condition of a ward, from whatever cause, required its abandonment, it was done without trouble or much cost to the Government. It may be stated that cases of hospital gangrene were, as a rule, removed from wards and treated in tents, with decided benefit. General hospitals, on this plan, were established whenever and wherever deemed necessary. This was sometimes attended with delay; for the Medical Department, instead of being an independent bureau, building and furnishing hospitals, had to depend entirely upon the Quartermaster's and Commissary departments. Hence, much delay was experienced in obtaining proper hospital accommodations, and in such cases blame was attached to the medical bureau, which it never deserved.1

1 Southern practitioner, vol. XXXI, pp. 492-493.

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1861 AD (2)
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