Sunday, August 9, 2009

Questions About Pearisburg's Civil War Hospital

Discover Giles County Historical Society article from the Virginian Leader, August 5, 2009:

Throughout the year, Giles County Historical Society receives many requests for information via telephone, e-mail, and postal mail. Many are genealogical questions or questions about communities or the location of cemeteries. Occasionally, we receive questions that are obviously directed to the wrong place like those about President Andrew Johnson or Giles County, Tennessee.

Some questions are just puzzling. One Civil War question was about a family member who was in the Pearisburg hospital in October 1862. We knew that there was a hospital here during the Battle of Pearisburg in May 1862, but assumed the hospital had been closed when troops left town and thought that maybe the letter writer meant the Petersburg hospital instead.

As Kate Delaney has researched the Civil War in Giles County to update our exhibits, she found additional references to a hospital in Pearisburg. During a visit to the National Archives in Washington, DC this summer, Delaney was able to verify the existence of a hospital in Pearisburg through monthly records from 1863 to 1865. The records clearly indicate Pearisburg hospital in Giles County, Virginia had patients numbering from 30 to 180. The records also show the number of surgeons, nurses, cooks, laundresses, and other personnel on staff.

A report of the sick and wounded from the week of June 4th, 1864 found at the National Archives clearly shows that there was a large hospital in Pearisburg during the Civil War. During that week there were 77 patients in the hospital, 13 in private quarters, and 15 medical officers and attendants present.

Now, of course, we have additional questions! Was the hospital in the Courthouse for the duration of the War or was it somewhere else? Where did all of the sick and wounded come from to fill the hospital? Where were the deceased buried? If you have any information that can help us solve the mystery of Pearisburg’s Civil War hospital, please contact us.

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