3 Replies Latest reply on Jan 12, 2021 12:51 PM by Jason Atkinson

    Seeking answers regarding the Great Panic of the Civil War in 1862

    natalie lovins Wayfarer

      I’m researching the Civil War and I need some help. I have letters from my great-great-great grandfather, George W. Edmonds, and his brothers, Thomas B. Edmonds, John Milton Edmonds, and William Morris Edmonds, all of whom served as Confederate Soldiers. One brother, William Morris Edmonds, was in Bowling Green, Kentucky when he caught the measles. He was sick enough to be taken to Nashville. He wrote, “I am able to go about the place a little but a walk of two hundred yards breaks me completely down. There are a great many sick soldiers here. They have turned all public buildings in this place into hospitals and they are perfectly thronged with sick.” He later wrote, “There is and has been more excitement here for several days then I ever saw in my life. The Yankees have taken Fort Henry on the Tennessee River gone up and taken possession of the railroad bridge across the Tennessee River. and are playing the mischief on that river. they have whipped one or two other little places. They were fighting yesterday at fort Donelson on the Cumberland River not a great way below this place. Kentucky has gone back to the Union again and our troops are or have left Bowling Green and are dropping into Tennessee. They are coming down on us like a thousand of brick. Well, we will give many more  discharge transportation to eternity before they can accomplish this undertaking. There are great fears here about the safety of this place. Well, we will have to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.”


      A few days later, the Union took Nashville. So, my question is this: What happened to all those sick Confederate soldiers who were still in Nashville in February 1862 and could not get out with the rest of the Confederacy? I cannot find anything, except that they might have been traded back, or that they might have been taken to the Maxwell House Hotel or the Tennessee State Penitentiary, but it seems to me that many of them were still too sick to walk.  Any sort of documentation is what we are looking for and would be so great if you could help us! Thanks!

        • Re: Seeking answers regarding the Great Panic of the Civil War in 1862
          Lisa Sharik Adventurer

          From our Museum Director Jeff Hunt, a noted Civil War author:

          "The standard practice was to evacuate all sick and wounded who could stand to travel. Those left behind became prisoners and that early in the war were probably paroled, agreeing not to serve again until properly exchanged.   Looking in the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion is probably the best place to seek out details.  Here is a little info from the Chattanooga Free Press Newspaper


          Hodges: City's role caring for injured Confederates

          May 5th, 2013 | by Anthony Hodges, D.D.S


          Chattanooga had been part of the Confederacy since June of 1861, but had been little touched by the war in its opening months. However, as February 1862 neared its end, that was about to change; Fort Donelson had fallen and as a result, Nashville was being abandoned.


          The civilian telegraph operator in Chattanooga stared at the message in disbelief: "Prepare as best you can for some 1,000 or 1,200 sick and convalescent from this army and the hospitals at Nashville. They will be sent forward as fast as cars can be supplied."


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          The telegrapher was not even sure who to give this message to; there was very little Confederate military presence in the city and no preparations to treat sick and wounded had been made. It would fall to the citizens of Chattanooga to improvise a treatment facility for the new arrivals.


          "When the first train arrived with some 300 on board, they were in a most pitiable condition. ... Tears filled the eyes of many at the depot when these poor fellows were taken from the cars ... a majority of them were helpless. Two other trains came in the following day with men in the same condition. Three soldiers were found dead in the cars, one died in the depot before removal and another died on the way to the hospital."


          Led by their mayor, Milo B. Smith, a physician, the citizens would lose another six men in their makeshift hospital before Confederate authorities arrived within a couple of weeks and established a medical presence.


          For the next 18 months, until the city was evacuated in early September 1863, Chattanooga would be the hospital and medical center for the Confederacy's western army, the Army of Tennessee. This humanitarian effort was led by surgeon Samuel H. Stout, an efficient organizer and medical innovator. Over time, Stout would set up at least nine hospitals in Chattanooga and more in the surrounding cities served by rail; Cleveland, Ringgold, and Dalton.


          Typically, a wounded or sick Confederate soldier arrived at the railroad depot, was unloaded and taken across the street (today's MLK Boulevard) to the Crutchfield House Hotel (site of today's Read House) which served as a "receiving and distributing" hospital; a clearing house in which the patient was temporarily treated before being sent to another Chattanooga area hospital. He might be taken to the Academy Hospital on nearby Academy or College Hill, a southern spur of Cameron Hill.


          Located in the old Masonic Lodge or Chattanooga Female Institute, it initially had 64 beds. It would be expanded through the use of tents and specially designed pavilion wards to hold 500 beds. Other hospitals would be built using the innovative pavilion style wards (which allowed for better ventilation) including the Newsom and Gilmer Hospitals probably located on a southern spur of Cameron Hill.


          Stout's efficiency is evident when one considers upon his arrival in March 1862, there were 64 beds available in one hospital and a dozen patients, but by the fall of that year there were roughly 3,500 beds available in the Chattanooga area and over 14,000 patients had been treated.


          Stout had some temporary hospitals in the Chattanooga area as well: the Whiteside Hotel complex at Summertown on Lookout Mountain; the Waverly House hotel on Market between Fourth and Fifth streets; the Methodist Church in downtown; a Smallpox Hospital, location unknown; and the Withers Division Hospital at Tyner's Station.


          Surgeon Stout had seen the chaos in the military medical system when Nashville was evacuated and he was determined to prevent a re-occurrence. He designed a system to be used when Chattanooga was abandoned that had each hospital retreat as a unit, keeping its personnel, equipment, supplies, and other necessities together as a unit when the hospital relocated.


          One can see in this new idea, the seeds of the "MASH" hospital concept perfected in the Korean War era. By late summer of 1863, it was obvious that the Federal forces were winning the war of maneuver, and using Stout's plan, the Confederate hospitals of Chattanooga evacuated into Georgia. Chattanooga's "Confederate Hour" was over.


          The Civil War was the first U. S. military and medical experience that involved tens of thousands of casualties. The development of an organized and orderly system that allowed for the treatment, transportation, and hospitalization of mass casualties was perhaps the greatest medical legacy of that war and the lessons learned would save lives in later conflicts. Chattanooga's Confederate hospital complex developed by surgeon Stout was an important part of that legacy."


          Lisa Sharik

          Deputy Director

          Texas Military Forces Museum

          2 people found this helpful
            • Re: Seeking answers regarding the Great Panic of the Civil War in 1862
              natalie lovins Wayfarer

              Hi Lisa,

              This is so helpful, thank you so much! I found hospital rolls for William on February 28th to April 30th from the Empire Hotel Hospital, in Atlanta, GA. This filled in all of the details, and is a great help. However, on April 30th, when hospital rolls where filled out, he was marked "present". The next day, when army muster rolls where filled out he was marked "absent"(because he was in the hospital). Down in the notes section, it says, "date or cause of absence not shown." (again, probably because he was in the hospital.)  But after May 1st, 1862, William Morris Edmonds disappears from history, and all of his army muster rolls and hospital rolls end. When I looked through the Oakland Cemetery deaths from that hospital, the closest I got was a J. W. Edmonds. Does that mean he died?

                • Re: Seeking answers regarding the Great Panic of the Civil War in 1862
                  Jason Atkinson Ranger

                  Dear Ms. Lovins,


                  Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


                  There may be some records of injured and sick Confederates taken prisoners being treated in Union hospitals.  Union hospital records, as well as many other other Civil War era Union and Confederate records, are in the custody of the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1), which may be contacted via email at archives1reference@nara.gov.


                  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT1. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.


                  In regards to your follow-up question, from what you wrote, the evidence is inconclusive.  We can not give a definitive interpretation of the reason why there might not be additional records concerning him.


                  We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!