- Visit the Office of Medical History (Army), then choose Books and Documents.
- Then either choose The Army Medical Department 1818-1865 or one of the shorter documents from the Civil War.
- If you go with the Army Medical Department 1818-1865, have a look at Chapters 8-13. You’ll find a number of aspects of army medicine during the Civil War, including this sad bit about hospital conditions around 1862:
Hammond often visited proposed hospital sites to make sure that those chosen were healthy, but by the end of 1862 the Union Army’s 150 general hospitals, scattered about the North and West and in some areas of the South and staffed largely by contract surgeons, were not achieving the record for healthfulness that had been hoped for. Although 400 stewards, 300 wardmasters, 6,051 male and female nurses, 3,025 laundresses, and 2,017 cooks served in general hospitals, many of these institutions were still filthy. Dirt, soiled dressings, and old clothing might be under the beds in wards that seemed clean. Bathrooms and tubs sometimes served as temporary repositories for “every uncleansed or unemptied chamber vessel, of soiled and offensive linen, and of every slop that a lazy nurse does not care to move.” Laundries, kitchens, and mess rooms might be in a similar state, and hospital grounds could be littered with refuse and privies. Ventilation was likely to be deficient despite Hammond’s efforts, principally because architects valued warmth above fresh air.