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The Civil War Hospitals in Richmond, Virginia

Chimborazo Hospital
Chimborazo Hospital

One of the largest Civil War hospitals was the Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond, VA. Located between 30th and 34th Streets on Clay Street. The Chimborazo Hospital contained about 120 buildings. The buildings had been built to house newly enlisted soldiers early in the war, but were taken over by the Confederacy to be used as a hospital when the soldiers left and went into the field.

The normal number of patients held in the facility was approximately 3,000 with over 75,000 soldiers passing through its doors throughout the long war. Most were convalescing following their wounding or were sick.

Chimborazo, named for the hill it sat on in downtown Richmond, had a medical staff of around 45. It also operated its own bakery, soap factory, ice house, beef and goat herds, and soup house. Several artificial limb factories including the J. E. Hanger factory were located nearby the plethora of hospitals to help provide for those who had been subject to amputation.

To gain perspective, today the Richmond National Battlefield visitors center and Chimborazo Medical Museum occupies the ground where the hospital once stood.

Chimborazo Hospital was one of over four dozen Richmond hospitals. Many were located in warehouses within shouting distance of each other. Because of the rail lines that converged in Richmond and due to its close proximity to many of the war’s battlefields, Richmond became a city of hospitals.

By February 1863, William A. Carrington, Surgeon and Acting Medical Director inspected the hospitals and filed a report on their condition. Carrington found that the number of wounded being treated in all hospitals in Richmond had actually decreased in the last four months from 13,000 to 4,752 while the number of persons caring for the wounded increased. His report said the hospitals had 1,443 nurses, 324 cooks, 342 laundresses and 81 stewards. A few women served as matrons writing letters for the patients, and providing for their comfort.

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