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Richmond National Battlefield Park
#43 Richmond National Battlefield Park

Park #43: Richmond National Battlefield Park

The military hospital at Chimborazo no longer stands, although the museum contains a scale model of the original facility. Chimborazo was the largest of the fifty or so civil war military hospitals in Richmond. It, and other such medical facilities, gave rise to important women’s rights prospects, as the majority of the able-bodied men were fighting on the battlefields and much of the trained medical personnel (such as it was in those days) provided on-site triage. Facilities like Chimborazo provided a dual function: recovery for wounded warriors who most likely had been treated in ambulatory units on the front, and treatment and recovery for ill soldiers. More than fifty percent of the medical patients among the soldiers were treated not for injuries, but for illnesses ranging from diarrhea to syphilis. Hospitals were often largely staffed by the women who were left behind, sometimes even in supervisory positions. People opened small recuperation hospitals in their homes. When a mandate was issued that all hospitals become the property of the Confederacy, one such woman resisted to such a degree that Jefferson Davis satisfied both demands by declaring her a commandant, and thus she became the first female military officer in the country.