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[Depot Field Hospital, City Point, Virginia]
Thomas C. Roche
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Image: 22.1 x 28.8 cm (8 11/16 x 11 5/16 in. )
Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005
Not on view
The Depot Field Hospital at City Point, Virginia, was opened on June 17, 1864. Situated about a mile from the supply wharf (see no. 136), it comprised six separate hospitals serving the Second, Fifth, Sixth, and Ninth Corps of the Army of the Potomac, a cavalry division, and the Corps d'Afrique. Set up in seventy-two hours, it received on its first day of operation 3,700 patients from the war front. Within one month it had treated more than 15,000 wounded soldiers, often 5,000 at a time. As a depot hospital it was an intermediate facility between the front-line field hospitals and the permanent hospitals in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. The composition of Roche's carefully distant view-- showing orderly tents receding to the horizon--demonstrates his commission by the quartermaster general's office. Eschewing detail for design Roche constructed his picture to describe the camp's antiseptically clean, official appearance. With 1,200 tents City Point was a model for all semipermanent field hospitals and a tribute to General Meigs's unprecedented logistical genius. The photograph does not, however, even hint at what was going on inside the tents. Although the Union medical corps had less than one hundred doctors at the start of the war, it numbered in total more than 11,000 by the war's end. Yet, of the 600,000 deaths in the Civil War, Union and Confederate combined, only one in four soldiers died from wounds in battle. The rest died from infections or diseases acquired in the camps and hospitals.
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