Alexandria, VA: nd [after 10/7/64; cf. King Street Branch entry in the 1st Division]. A unique presentation assemblage prepared by a hospital department head for a colleague in a similar, and nearby, position. 24 stereoviews, image size 3 3/4 x 6 1/4 inches, mounted on stiff card stock, all except one with a printed caption title [that one with a manuscript pencil title], in two formats as indicated above. Some old staining and soiling, and some chipping, primarily to mounts; two or three of the images are slightly faded or portions somewhat out of focus, but overall very good, clear views. (9872). Item #62792
A unique set of photographs of the Civil War hospitals of Alexandria, Virginia, assembled by Lt. Col. Edwin Bentley, the medical officer in charge of the hospitals, for his colleague Col. R. O. Abbott, the medical officer in charge of the nearby Washington, D.C., hospitals, 18 of them with printed presentation labels, from photographs taken during the Civil War and printed then. Six of the photographs were taken by Brady Studio photographers and are included in the Photographic History of the Civil War (1911), four are available for viewing at the National Archives or Library of Congress online sites, and one is available at the Alexandria Public Library; we were unable to find another example for the remaining five photographs included in this lot (Fairfax Street Branch, Cazenove House, McVeigh House Branch, New Hallowell Branch, and Queen Street. Branch) and the excellent index to the hospitals on the Alexandria website (alexandriava.gov/historic/civilwar/UnionHospitals.aspx?id=70778) includes no period image for those. The stereocards are listed here by caption title, arranged in the medical divisions to which the hospitals were assigned in September, 1862 (these divisions did not relate in any way to the military structure of infantry units):
1st Division Hospitals: (1) "Wolf Street Branch - (1st Division General Hospital,) corner Wolf & St. Asaph Sreet." [ROA]; (2) "Wolf Street Branch - (1st Division General Hospital,) corner Wolf & St. Asaph Sreets." [ROA] (different view); (3) "Wolf Street Branch - (1st Division General Hospital,) corner Wolf & St. Asaph Streets" [ROA] (a third view); (4) "Fairfax St. Branch - [1st Division General Hospital,] between Cameron and Queen Streets." [ROA]; (5) "King Street Branch - (3d Division General Hospital,) corner King & Water Streets." [ROA] [transferred from 1st Division to 3d 10/7/1864]; (6) "Mansion House Branch - (1st Division General Hospital, corner Fairfax and Cameron Streets.)" [printed under image no labels]; (7) 'St. Paul's Church Branch, - 1st Division General Hospital, Corner of Pitt and Duke Ss.)" [printed under image, no labels; transferred from 1st Division to 2d, 10/7/1864].
2d Division Hospitals: (8) "Headquarters 2d Division General Hospital,. -- Prince Street." [ROA]; (9) "Grace Church Branch - (2d Division General Hospital,) Patrick Street, near Duke Street." [ROA]; (10) "Baptist Church Branch - (2d Division General Hospital,) Washington St., between Prince & Duke Streets." [ROA]; (11) "Lyceum Hall Branch, - [2d Division General Hospital,] corner Washington and Prince Streets" [ROA]; (12) "Southern Methodist Church Branch, - (2d Division General Hospital,) Washington Street, near King Street, Alexandria, Va" [ROA]; (13) "Prince Street Branch - (2d Division General Hospital,) between Columbus & Alfred Sreets." [ROA; (14) "Prince Street Branch - (2d Division General Hospital,) between Columbus & Alfred Streets." [ROA] (different view); (15) "Sickles [i.e., Sickel Barracks] Gen'l. Hosp." [pencil caption verso] [ROA]; (16) Washington Hall Branch, - 2nd Division General Hospital, - corner Washington and King streets." [printed under image, no labels].
3d Division Hospitals: (17) "Old Hallowell Branch - (3d Division General Hospital,) Washington Street, between Cameron and Queen Sts.)" [printed under image, no labels]; (18) "Grosvenor House Branch - [3d Division General Hospital, Washington St., between Princess & Orinoco Streets." [ROA]; (19) "Cazenove House [also known as the Lee-Fendall House]. - Corner of Washington and Orinoco Streets." [ROA]; (20) "McVeigh House Branch - [3d Division General Hospital, corner Cameron and St. Asaph Streets.]" [ROA]; (21) "New Hallowell Branch - Officers Hospital, (3d Division General Hospital,) Washington Street between Cameron & Queen Streets." [ROA; (22) "Queen Street Branch - (3d Division U.S. General Hospital) between Washington and St. Asaph Streets." [printed under image, no labels].
Two other stereocards are included: (23) "Residence of Edwin Bentley, Surgeon U.S. Vols., in charge General Hospitals, Alexandria, Va." [ROA]; (24) "Marshall House, Alexandria, Va. / Surmounted by the flagstaff from which the gallant Ellsworth tore the fllag [sic] of treason and fell a victim to its emblematic hate." [printed under image, no labels].
The city of Alexandria was occupied by Union troops throughout the Civil War. It became a major hub for Union military supplies, troop transfers, and care of the wounded. Likely these photographs were prepared for Abbott sometime between October 6, 1864, when two of the hospitals in the group with presentation labels were transferred out of the 1st Division (one into the 2d Division, the other into the 3d), and later 1864 (certainly before the end of the conflict) when a number of new hospitals were built, primarily fashioned as barracks, and are not included among the images in this lot. By the end of the war there were more than 30 military hospitals located in Alexandria, occupying spaces formerly used as schools, churches, hotels, and private homes, in addition the ones built for the purpose. The hospitals located there were grouped into three divisions in September, 1862, as given in the individual descriptions above. At that time, there were 17 hospitals, all save one (2nd Presbyterian Church which ceased its use as a hospital in September, 1863) represented in this collection [see Susan Lawrence's article, "Organization of the Hospitals in the Department of Washington," Center for Digital Research, Univ. of Nebraska; the accompanying chart includes four that were not in use until late 1864]. Several hospitals are included in this group that are not mentioned in the Lawrence article, but appear in online articles as operating during the period represented by the others in the lot.
Edwin Bentley (1824-1917) was appointed head of the Third Division U.S. Army General Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia in September 1862, and head of all the Alexandria hospitals in late 1864. Bentley, born in New London, Connecticut, received his medical education at the New York Medical College, the Twenty-third Street Medical College, the Bellevue Hospital Medical College, and the medical dept. of the University of the City of New York, according his brief biography in the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. When the Civil War began, he enlisted in the Fourth Connecticut Infantry as an assistant surgeon, rising through the ranks to Lt. Colonel before arriving in Alexandria. As surgeon in charge of the hospitals in Alexandria during the war, he is credited with performing the first successful blood transfusion on a soldier whose leg had been amputated, at the Grosvenor House Branch hospital in June 1864. [see: "Brown-Sequard: The Improbable Genius Who Transformed Medicine," by Michael Aminoff (Oxford Univ. Pr.: 2011), p.124]. Bentley remained in the Washington area until 1869. He later moved to Little Rock, Arkansas and founded the Arkansas Medical School.
Robert O. Abbott (1824-1867), an Assistant Surgeon in the regular army at the outbreak of the Civil War, was promoted to Major and Surgeon shortly after the conflict began and was assigned to the Army of the Potomac's V Corp as its Chief Medical Director in 1862. He was placed in charge of all the U.S. Army Hospitals and all medical transports in the Washington, D.C., area later that year. "He worked tirelessly and incessantly and his devotion to duty ultimately wrecked his health" (online obituary). In March, 1865, he was brevetted Lt. Col. and Colonel in the U.S. Regular Army for "faithful and meritorious service during the war." He died in New York City in June, 1867, from the effects of his service.