The Story of the Soldiers and their Marker
Richmond was flooded with federal prisoners after the Battle of First Manassas (21 July 1861), many of them badly wounded. The Confederate authorities were not prepared for their own casualties, much less the Yankee army's, and scrambled to find space. While most prisoners were housed in various tobacco warehouses just east of downtown Richmond, many of the seriously wounded or ill POWs were taken to the brand-new City Alms House, on Shockoe Hill just north of downtown.
Loaned by the City of Richmond to the Confederate medical service, and later officially designated General Hospital Number 1, this large, well-ventilated brick building housed wounded and sick Union soldiers on and off for the next two years, along with hundreds of wounded Confederates. The City Alms House still stands today, virtually unchanged from its wartime appearance.
In this April 1865 view, the City Alms House (a.k.a. General Hospital No. 1) appears in the background with Shockoe Hill Cemetery in the foreground. The cemetery wall is visible in the bottom right of the photo. The area where the federal soldiers were long believed to have been buried is in the bottom center.
The City of Richmond, which also owned and maintained Shockoe Hill Cemetery directly across Hospital Street from the Alms House building, took responsibility for burying the Hospital dead (as well as some prisoners who died elsewhere in the city). Thereafter, the assumption by all in Richmond - for the next 140 years - was that the men were interred, and remained to this day, in a large, open within the cemetery walls (see photo above). However, my research into the "Roll of Honor" and other sources establishes that the men actually were taken one block east of the cemetery, just outside the cemetery wall visible in the above photo, and buried in two lots adjacent to a building known in that time as the "City Poor House" (from the roof of which, the photo above was taken). Unlike the Alms House, the City Poor House is long gone. That site and the burial lots next to it are now part of the Hebrew Cemetery of Richmond.
Also lost to history until recently, was that some of the men were not soldiers at all, but Unionist civilians who were identified as soldiers when buried. We also now know that all, soldiers and civilians alike, were disinterred in 1866-67, with the soldiers reinterred in the Richmond National Cemetery in east Richmond. They rest there today as unknowns.
Although the United Daughters of the Confederacy erected a monument in Shockoe Hill Cemetery in 1938 that referred to Confederate and Union dead, the United States government never memorialized the service and sacrifice of the men originally buried there. Finally, in 2002, the Virginia Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, an organization of Union Army officer descendants and others, ensured that the federal soldiers' original resting place on Shockoe Hill - and their memory - were identified for future generations. The Commandery arranged for the Department of Veterans Affairs to create a suitable marker, which the Commandery dedicated in October 2002.
The eighty-eight names recorded at the time of burial, and that appear on the marker, are listed below. Many are misspelled, and no unit information was recorded at burial. Extensive ongoing research since the placing of the marker in 2002 has uncovered the correct names and units of many of these men. Also uncovered have been the names and units of others possibly buried on Shockoe Hill but not listed by name when buried (and therefore not listed on the marker).
James Adams/Joseph Adkins/Joseph Albright/G.W. Andrews/William T. Armstrong/ Theodore Ashburn/H. Bains/William Barrard/William Batte/William G. Bishop/Francis M. Botts/David S. Brooks/John Brown/Joseph W. Brown/Morton L. Brown/George O. Bryan/Jules Camp/J. Martin Camp/J.M. Cary/C.F. Clark/G.M Clenly/L. Combs/William Converse/Copeland/John Cunghman/James Cunningham/Jacob Deitz/Andrew Dennyson/William J. Devereux/Leroy Dison/John E. Doughlass/John Eldridge/R.A Ellis/ George Farland/Lucius Fepps/Simon Gerrald/William Gibbs/William B. Gowen/ James Hall/Francis Hardiman/James D. Harris/Willis C. Haynes/Hunt/John Cox Jefferson/James Jones/Nevil Kaughman/William Kein/Franklin King/W.H. Kleeper/ Charles Lam/James Lebery/John M. Lee/James Lemon/William Lounger/August Maher/C.C. Mann/M. Mannen/Martin/James H. McClurg/R.M. McMonan/M. Milsler/ Charles W. Morgan/Joshua L. Nichols/J. Nicots/R. Nipis/Amos Partridge/John Potter/ Lewis Quagon/Setes Soel/F. Starke/Samuel E. Statin/George Stol/H. Strell/James Sweetland/Charles W. Tebbits/James Teel/J. Terrel/M.B. Thayer/Charles E. Throwbridge/J. Trexall/William Walcup/Francis Weatherly/Daniel Wetcher/ P. Wheely/Thomas H. Woodware/James Wormes
The names and units of all identified soldiers, including those not listed on the marker, appear in the "Names by State of Service" sections.
Marker Placed for Surgeon of General Hospital #1:
Charles Bell Gibson, M.D.
Group photo above, from left: Jonathan O'Neal, M.D., of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine; Jodi Koste, Archivist of Medical College of Virginia materials at Virginia Commonwealth University; and members of the Virginia Society of the Military Order of the Stars and Bars gather at the unveiling of the marker on 30 April 2005.
Doctor Gibson was an eminent American surgeon of the pre-war era. A native
of Maryland and a graduate of the medical school at the University of Pennsylvania
(as was his father), Gibson performed the first operation under anesthesia in Virginia, in 1848. This was shortly after he was named the head of the surgery department at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, a position he held for the next 17 years.
He briefly served as the Commonwealth's Surgeon-General in 1861 before accepting a commission as a Confederate States Army surgeon. He spent three years in charge of General Hospital No. 1 on Shockoe Hill, located in the Alms House building across the street from Shockoe Hill Cemetery. He treated Confederate and Union wounded during those years with compassion, and earned a reputation as a tireless advocate for his patients. By the time Richmond fell, he was exhausted and suffering from pneumonia. On April 23, 1865, he died, apparently of heart failure. Buried in Shockoe Hill Cemetery next to his two small children (who died before the war), Gibson's grave was unmarked for exactly 140 years. It was the pleasure of the Loyal Legion's Virginia Commandery to finally honor this important figure in Virginia's medical and military history.