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About this collection

Robertson Hospital was a small, private Civil War hospital financially subsidized by the Confederate government. Located in the house of Judge John Roberts at the northwest corner of 3rd and Main Streets in Richmond, Virginia, the hospital was run by Captain Sally Louisa Tompkins, and was in operation from late July 1861 until June 1865. Tompkins was the only woman to be commissioned by the Confederacy. She was commissioned as Captain on September 9, 1861, in order to keep the hospital open after Surgeon General Samuel P. Moore closed all private hospitals in favor of large military hospitals to be run by commissioned officers. This speaks to the success of the hospital.

About the Register and the Database

The Robertson Hospital Register is an 84-page handwritten logbook of Civil War patients admitted between August 3, 1861 and April 2, 1865. There are 1,329 entries in the register, each assigned a case number. Each entry contained the following information on the patient (note that not every entry contains data for every category): case number, rank, name, company, regiment, captain's name, residence, date admitted, disease, and date discharged. All of these fields are indexed and are searchable.

The current database is an updated version of a database originally developed in 1998 as part of a joint project between the VCU Libraries and the Museum of the Confederacy.

Except as noted below, the information in the database is a literal transcription of the information compiled in the Robertson Hospital Register, which is housed at the Museum of the Confederacy.

For proper names, rather than transcribing exactly the commonly-used abbreviations of first names (Jno. for John; Jos. for Joseph; Jas. for James), the transcriber entered the full names. Also, when the information about the military unit did not list the state or branch of service, but that information was known from the information given, he added the unambiguous, easily-known information. The most common example of this is the unit designation of an artillery unit as a battery. Even when the designation does not say "artillery," the transcriber added that information (except when battery and battalion could not be distinguished). Similarly, many unit designations listed the Richmond Howitzers, a famous Virginia Artillery unit. The transcriber took the liberty of adding Virginia and Artillery to the designation.

Most of the entries for unit designations did not specify the branch of service. In almost every case, the unit in question was infantry. This is beyond doubt for many of the higher numbered units. For example, the Virginia cavalry units did not number over 47; thus Virginia units numbering over 47 must have been infantry.

The register pages change format in several places, supplying different kinds of information in different order across the page. The first 576 records list units primarily by the names of captain and the regimental number and the disposition or outcome in a single column marked "Discharged." Entries 578-929 substituted Company for Captain. Entries 930-1059 omitted the separate column for rank and moved the admission date to the first column. Entries 1060-1315 delineated dates, ranks, and military unit more clearly, replaced "Discharged" with three (later four) columns for alternative outcomes: furloughed; returned to duty; transferred; (and died), and added a "Remarks" column. The last twenty entries returned to more cursory information (and a different, far sloppier, handwriting), but retained the Remarks column. The same hand filled in all of the entries until number 1316. In the current database, all reasons for discharge appear in the field "Outcome." Any additional information appears in the "Notes" field.

For this database, regimental names are broken into three separate fields: "Regiment State," "Regiment Branch," and "Regiment Number." The number is given in straight numeral form rather than ordinal form. Example: to search for the 61st Virginia Regiment, enter "61 virginia regiment".

Company names were indicated by either a letter ("B") or a phrase ("Carrington Artillery"). In the database, these are given in the fields "Company Designation Letter" or "Company Designation Nickname."

There were no entries for case number 143, 419, 809, 943, and 944. Case number 866 was used twice.

Dates appear in the database in this format: YYYY-MM-DD (example: 1862-04-11). To search for dates, do not include the hyphens. The entries for Henry Gollihorn, Clinton Southworth, and William Carmichael were initially transcribed as June 31, 1862, a literal translation of the date entry in the register. The actual admission may have occurred in May or June. Because the database can only accept valid dates, these have been changed to 1862-06-30.

Finally, there are no images associated with the register entries. The thumbnail appearing in the display results is the same for every entry. It is a sample of pp. 37 and 38 from the register, showing case numbers 577 to 608.

For more information about the Robertson Hospital, see the Robertson Hospital page at Civil War Richmond.

Materials in this collection are in the public domain, and thus are free of any copyright restriction. We ask that you acknowledge the VCU Libraries if any of the materials are used. A data dictionary showing the Dublin Core mapping for each metadata field is also available.

 
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