From the Richmond Whig, 9/12/1862, p. 1, c. 6


To the Honorable Committee appointed by Congress to investigate the Condition of Hospitals.

GENTLEMEN, - Camp Winder is situated in the Western suburbs of the City of Richmond, near the Reservoir, in an elevated position, fourteen feet above the highest summit of the surrounding country, and was established last fall by the Confederate Government, to serve as winter quarters for the army of Richmond. It was so occupied until the 7th of last April, when the undersigned was ordered to duty there, and being the ranking medical officer, took command of over one thousand sick, who were found in miserable filthy camps, destitute of whitewash or drainage, and with the offal of provisions and the filth of soldiers accumulated during the winter months.

Steps were immediately taken to organize a Hospital; clean out and whitewash the buildings and drain the streets – and I have the honor to report that through the able and efficient head of the Medical Department, and the cooperation of the Honorable Secretary of War and Gen. John H. Winder, I was enabled, in the short space of less than three months, to organize all the Divisions of General Hospital Camp Winder into its present mammoth proportions.

It consists of 140 shanties or tenements, (with good shingle roofs and rough floors,) arranged in mathematical order, over an area of twenty acres of ground, with every street raised or graded, and otherwise so well drained that no water and little mud accumulate after rains. The shanties are exactly the same size and height, and about 80 feet long by 35 wide, a brick chimney pierced for two iron stoves rising through the centre of each. There are over 100 wards for the sick, with 38 beds in each for the sick and 3 for ward master and nurses; so that when fully occupied there is a collection of morbid and sound humanity of more than 4,000 men – besides, we have a host of female nurses and cooks. Three wards are under the treatment of an assistant surgeon, allowing him, if all his beds are in use, 120 patients. Attached to each Division – for the entire Hospital is divided into five, designated by flags, - is a division surgeon and as many assistant surgeons as his wards require. Over the whole, to whom all other surgeons are accountable, is a Chief Surgeon of Hospital, whose quarters are marked by a Confederate flag. They daily business and administration of each division is totally independent of the other – every one having its own kitchen, dining room, laundry and apothecary store. The whole Hospital is provided with good baker’s bread, from a bakery attached to it. Also, a bath-house, containing the most approved Russian steam, shower and plunge baths, with capacity to bathe 500 daily.

We have, also, a military and police guard, a quarter master and commissary department attached to the Hospital, so that in the completeness and magnitude of its arrangements it may well claim to be the largest Hospital of the Government.

It will be see, by the monthly reports of this Institution, that 22,874 cases have been treated, of which number 1,271 have died, exactly 5 ˝ per cent.

Every day’s experience convinces me of the great value of female influence and labor here, not of mercenary ignorant Irish nurses, but ladies of intelligence and refinement, whose good sense and long experience make them angels of mercy at the bedside of the poor, emaciated soldier. Among a few of the first class we have several noble examples of the latter. I must name to your honorable body Mrs. Frazer and Mrs. Jones of Virginia, Mrs. Lockwood of South Carolina, and Mrs. Dana of Mississippi. There are others who distribute their valuable services and charities among the wards of this Hospital. I allude to an Association (worthy of a vote of thanks from Congress in behalf of their labors as good Samaritans in our hospitals, extending their blessings, not only to your constituency at home, but to our whole country,) headed by Mrs. G. W. Randolph, Mrs. Webb, Mrs. Grant, Miss Mitchell and Miss Nicholas of Richmond. As constant as the sun in its course has been their daily ministrations at the couch of sick and wounded soldiers of this Hospital from its organization.

The Surgeon General has recently authorized me to constitute three division surgeons an examining board, whose duty it is to examine and consider daily (except Sundays) the claims of patients for furloughs and discharges. The Chief Surgeon of Hospital is provided by General Winder with blank passports and furloughs, signed by the proper constituted authority, and is also authorized to order transportation in cases needed. Thanks to the honored head of this arrangements for the sick soldier, which I am glad to state works admirably, and enables the convalescent (provided with all things needful) to start for his home in less than twenty hours after he is granted a furlough. I pray that this arrangement may be made permanent in all our general hospitals as I find it gives satisfaction to all parties, and will lift from our department much of the unavoidable complaint that has been made against it.

The medical department with an exhausted supply of physic – its poor officers without medicines, without a proper commissariat to feed his sick – with a deficient quartermaster department to clothe and transport his patients – with oftentimes an unwillingness on the part of the military to detail him a nurse or a cook – unaided and alone he buffets the storm of public abuse, and is held responsible for all complaint, though he work himself to death. It is true this remark is not applied to all, yet hurling an army of 500,000 men and 2,000 doctors into the field in the short space of twelve months, it is impossible always to put the right men in the right places, and it is my honest belief that when the abuses in the department upon which ours depend are rectified by Congress, it will lift itself above the jeers and complaints of its present enemies.

I am, gentlemen, in a sense of high appreciation of your labors.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. G. L. [Lane], Chief Surgeon.