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I’m looking for information on Wayside Hospital No. 5 and the doctors who served there. Are there photos of this hospital?

Ben Steelman

You may be thinking of two different Confederate hospitals, both active in Wilmington during the Civil War.

Wayside Hospital was one of a network of Confederate hospitals set up in the spring of 1862 along the “wayside,” i.e., in larger towns along major rail lines leading from Virginia and throughout the South. In North Carolina, other wayside hospitals were located at Raleigh, Weldon, Goldsboro, Tarboro, Salem and Salisbury. In Wilmington, the Wayside Hospital was near the Wilmington & Weldon railway depot, near the Cape Fear River on Nutt Street.

According to Robert C. Cooke in “Wild, Wicked Wartime Wilmington” (published by Dram Tree Books in 2009), the Wayside Hospital was in a fairly large building with bathing and kitchen facilities. Town doctors (alerted by telegraph message) would examine the incoming wounded and dress any wounds.

Also, members of the Ladies’ Aid Society would do what they could. “I have been up all morning at the wayside hospital,” wrote Mrs. Armand J. deRosset, the Aid Society president, in September 1862. “(S)ome poor fellows wounded ever since June, others sick for three or four months, it is delightful to see the pleasure they express and many of them so grateful for every act of kindness. Their wounds are dressed, their faces washed and fed, with little delicacies to those who cannot eat substantially.”

No figures exist on how many soldiers were treated at Wilmington’s Wayside Hospital, but the Salem Wayside Hospital, a much smaller unit, fed 215 meals to 71 soldiers during a single month. Mrs. deRossett wrote that it cost her group $25 a day to treat the soldiers there, “a great deal too much.”

There was also General Hospital No. 5, the pre-war U.S. Marine Hospital, constructed in the 1850s and sitting on a campus bordered by 8th, Nun, 13th and Ann streets. According to Cooke, locals always referred to it as “the Marine.”

Other Confederate military hospitals in Wilmington included the Naval Hospital at the foot of Chestnut Street (apparently located in a private home) and General Hospital No. 4, a surgical unit, located in the pre-war Seaman’s Home at Front and Dock streets (now the site of the Reel Cafe).

Cooke was able to reproduce a postwar photo of the Marine Hospital (from the Robert Fales Collection at the New Hanover County Public Library) and a postwar engraving of the Seaman’s Home, also from the library’s collection.

Unfortunately, according to Civil War historian Chris Fonvielle, no wartime photographs of anything or any place in Wilmington have yet been verified; only postwar photos (such as T.H. O’Sullivan’s images of the captured Fort Fisher) are known. Fonvielle, of the University of North Carolina Wilmington, has been looking for such photos for more than 30 years and has even offered cash rewards. Any such image, if found, would unddoubtedly be quite valuable.

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4 Responses to “ I’m looking for information on Wayside Hospital No. 5 and the doctors who served there. Are there photos of this hospital?”

  1. On January 8, 2010 at 9:13 pm Les Buell wrote:

    Thank you very much for this informatio. It is very helpful. Yes, I am aware of the two hospitals with the same number. The one I am researching is the first one you mentioned, Wayside Hospital #5. I have been able to follow a surgeon I am researching, Dr. Solomon Secord, to this hospital in late December 1864. My problem is that the “trail” get cold here as I don’t know if he surrendered here and was paroled or if he left here before the fall of Wilmington to go to another hospital. I have his records from the National Archives, and the last mention is of his work at Wayside #5.

    I was not familiar with Robert C. Cooke’s book, but I just ordered it on Amazon to add to my collection.

    May I ask where you found the information of Mrs. Armand J. deRosset? Is there anything at that source regarding Wayside # 5 at the end of the war?

    Thank you VERY much for this information!!

    Les Buell

  2. On October 27, 2013 at 12:17 pm James C. Burke wrote:

    The May 12, 1863 issue of the Wilmington Journal gives the location of the Wayside Hospital near the railroad depots as being located in the large brick building owned by Mr. Edmondson. Edmondson’s lot was located in the northeast corner of Block 217 (Red Cross and Front). The Wilmington & Weldon purchased the Edmondson Hotel for offices. Eventually, the lot was included in the parcel containing ACL Building A. Cape Fear Community College Downtown Campus Building N now occupies the site.

  3. On October 29, 2013 at 11:11 am Si Cantwell wrote:

    Thanks, James!

  4. On December 9, 2013 at 10:46 am James C. Burke wrote:

    Samuel H. Lattanzi, one of my students at Cape Fear Community College, found an article in the December 31, 1868 issue of the Wilmington Star about the sale of the “Hospital Buildings” near Camp Lamb. They were located on land belonging to D. McRae, and were auctioned off by Colonel Thomas P. Johnston of the Freemen’s Bureau. Dr. J.E. Winants purchased two of the buildings and D. McRae purchased the third.

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