View Full Version : General Hospitals

10-30-2008, 11:01 PM
Has anyone attempted to portray a General Hospital or more correctly a portion of a General Hospital at the site of an original General Hospital?

This is a portrayal I am looking into further developing to involve civilian reenactors in a more authentic medical representation than is currently found at most reenactments.

10-30-2008, 11:24 PM
We set up part of a depot hospital at City Point - patient tent, dispensary, surgery and a couple of logistical support tents. What a nightmare to set up.

10-30-2008, 11:37 PM

I am looking to do something in a former hospital building if I can find an available existing one. This would avoid the cost and logistics of the correct canvas.

How did you handle the staffing of the hospital? paperwork? wounded volunteers?


10-31-2008, 06:35 AM
I, too, would love to set up at least one ward and run it by the stew's manual for the weekend. I don't know of buildings/former hospitals which have the space or the ability to do this.

We staffed City Point Depot Hospital (CPDH) with three people - the surgeon, me as the steward, and a lady as a ward matron. Confederates as prisoners were also onsite, but they were at another "station" on the tour and only came around once in a while to be "examined". We only had one hospital tent - in real life, they were pitched end to end to create a long ward, and the dispensary tent was pitched at the end opposite the Main door. We did take care to paint our main poles in a black and white barber-pole fashion as the originals (sort of a proto-OSHA safety stripe), but the inside was a loose approximation of a ward, using cots as opposed to actual beds. No dusty streets, so no pipe sprinkler system. Can't dig too deep on NPS property, so ix-nay on making a trench inside the ward tent, covering it with iron plates and lighting a fire in a pit nearby to blow warm air against the plates to heat the tent. Then again, this was in August. Heat surplus.

As usual you will have to twist arms and offer Federal-level bribes to get anyone to be a patient for the whole weekend.

I won't say the paperwork aspect was a joke, but this was 2001 - 2003 and and we were only just getting around to researching the administrivia for the Hosp. Dept. We sort of had a patient register, blown-up copies of a few inventory forms, bu the rest of the paper onsite consisted of visual clutter.

Somewhere in my research junk is a fat thesis which was written on the CP depot hospitals. Graduate thesis? Can't remember. That was my principal secondary source. If I find it I'll convert it to PDF. It's chock full of terrific tidbits on CPDH daily life.

10-31-2008, 02:26 PM
you know its a sad statement on life, in general, that it's so difficult to present to the general public a slice of history: this permit that permit then worry about all the suit happy yahoos that would throw temselves litterly into a obsticle so they could get healed with green bucks .

Gotta be disheartening for even the seasoned vet. Ive done many an event and it is a nightmare . Especially with all the help you've been promised but never got. Lots of luck my man hope it does happen for you tho.

11-01-2008, 07:00 AM
Dear Harry:

Well, it wasn't a General Hospital, but at Burkitsville 2001 Hank Trent, I and several other people organized a hospital in the town that ran for 18 hours.

It was in a church that had been used as a hospital after the battle, but which was now used as the local Historical Society.

Rob Carter was our paperwork wizard, so I'd tap him for more info on that side of things.

The organizers had arranged for horsedrawn carts to bring the wounded off the battlefield and unload in front of the church, which was done at that time. Several people were triaging in the front yard of the church, and then troops were either carried or helped up the steps into the church itself.

One of the concerns raised when we were planning this was how we would keep track/keep safe the weapons and accoutrements of the troops. Wesley Stokes had one corner of the church barricaded off with pews, and kept a meticulous log, and tagged guns and equipment as it was brought to him.

At the time the local doctor helped in this particular hospital, along with the military surgeons, and Hank portrayed the local doctor, with his usual flair.

Local civilian women fed the troops, watered them and helped with bandages, bedding, etc. which was portrayed wonderfully by quite a number of civilian reenactors.

We recruited troops ahead of time by promsing: a) a unique experience; b) they could choose their own wounds, and some even portayed battle shock; c) they had the option of staying as long as they wanted to, or staying in the hospital overnight. About a third of the troops stayed overnight -- as I recall a little over 20 people. We fed them dinner at the hospital and coffee the next morning at dawn. Most of them then opted to head back to camp for breakfast. Those who stayed through the night were eligible for a draw of period handcrafts donated by the civilian reenactorsheld while they were having morning coffee just after dawn. We spread out a wealth of knitted socks, scarves, hats, poke bags, crewel bookmarks, stationary kits, authentically researched and reproduced "soldier's comforts" on a blanket and put numbers in a hat. All the soldiers drew numbers and then Number 1 got first pick of anything on the blanket, number 2 got second pick, etc.

I was the matron and spent much of the event chasing down the army's rations for the food requisitioned with paperwork by our clerk for the men we were housing. It was authentically hard to find out who had the paperwork, who was supposed to issue the food and when it would be available. Once we tracked it down, Anita Hunter did a wonderful job of transforming it into soup and talking other soldiers into transporting her soup to the hospital. They didn't get fed until well after 10.

There were candlelight tours throughout the evening, through the town and into the hospital and many spectators were very impressed at the realism of the hospital. Bandages and lint had been prepared for months beforehand, and we also had people who put together little packets of the various "drugs" that would have been used. This was much before the research that you, Noah Briggs and so many of the medical reenactors have recently made available, so that aspect of the whole situation would be different this time.

But we were able to recreate pretty accurately the confusion, chaos and mixups on several levels that you'd have in this type of situation.

Hope that's helpful,
Karin Timour
Period Knitting -- Socks, Sleeping Hats, Balaclavas
Atlantic Guard Soldiers' Aid Society
Email: Ktimour@aol.com

11-02-2008, 10:03 PM

How were the candlelight tours received by the participants? We had them at Bristoe in the field hospital.

I have some leads on copies of blank Confederate hospital forms.

The big one is getting the wounded.

What did you do for period bedding?

How did you get the items for those who stayed overnigt to draw from?