Rhode Island’s Civil War Hospital

Life and Death at Portsmouth Grove, 1862–1865

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About the Book

During the Civil War, thousands of wounded Union soldiers and Confederate prisoners convalesced in a general army hospital in rural Portsmouth Grove, Rhode Island. Because of its location on the periphery of the action, the hospital has remained a footnote to the dramatic sweep of Civil War literature. However, its history and the experiences of the doctors, nurses, patients and guards that gave it life provide a new perspective on the interaction between the army and society in wartime and on life in Civil War America. This in-depth account also explores the barbarities of medicine, daily routine in a general army hospital, the role of citizens in providing aid, the later adventures of former patients and staff, and the final resting places of those who died on the grounds.

About the Author(s)

Frank L. Grzyb, author of six previous books, has contributed numerous articles to newspapers and magazines about America’s Civil War. He is a member of the Rhode Island Civil War Round Table and lives in Rhode Island.

Bibliographic Details

Frank L. Grzyb
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 208
Bibliographic Info: 55 photos, 3 maps, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6861-4
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8973-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      viii

Acronyms and Abbreviations      xi

Foreword by Robert C. Rubel      1

Preface      3

1. Present-Day Portsmouth      5

2. Nineteenth-Century Medicine      7

3. Genesis: Early 1862      14

4. A Shaky Beginning      19

5. The Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword      30

6. Shelter and Rations      41

7. Hospital Guards      52

8. Liquor, Trouble and Discipline      61

9. Hospital Volunteers and Benefactors      68

10. New Arrivals: Unanticipated Problems      73

11. Angels of Mercy      80

12. Late 1862 and 1863      90

13. 1864      123

14. War’s End: Glory, Glory, Halleluiah      134

Appendix A: Hospital Guards—Rhode Island Volunteers      161

Appendix B: Roll of Honor      164

Appendix C: Map of Cypress Hills National Cemetery      170

Notes      171

Bibliography      184

Index      191

Book Reviews & Awards

“Grzyb examines the challenges inherent in managing all Civil War medical facilities and provides an excellent analysis of the state of medicine during the early portion of the Civil War…well written and easy to read…of great interest”—Civil War News; “Grzyb…provides modern-day readers with a detailed, thought-provoking study of how medical care evolved during the course of the conflict”—Civil War Times; “this volume on the internal workings of the Union military hospital on Aquidneck Island provides a unique window into the personal stories of the patients who passed through the facility”—Reference & Research Book News; “an in-depth look at the daily routine of a general hospital…easy to read, full of details about an army general hospital, with plenty of pictures and illustrations…highly recommended”—Society of Civil War Surgeons; “an enjoyable read. The author has a wonderful eye for interesting details and colorful stories, which he weaves throughout the narrative. A compelling and little-known story which the author passionately recounts with numerous interesting details and references”—H-Net Reviews.