Quincy’s location on the Mississippi River made it an excellent port for the transport riverboats that brought up sick and wounded soldiers from battles of the Civil War’s western theater. Citizens of Quincy and the surrounding area were loyal to the Union cause, hosted a great many soldiers passing through, and were known for their generosity in providing for the soldiers. Four months after the start of the war, Quincy opened its first hospital with two well-known Quincy physicians, Drs. Nichols and E.G. Castle in charge. The hospital chemist (druggist) was E. W. Hope.
The start of the war found the Union woefully unprepared for casualties, lacking supplies and hospitals. Communities of every size found themselves needing a place for the wounded and supplies for their comfort and convalescence. The Needle Pickets, an organization of Quincy women dedicated to the Union cause and founded May 31, 1861, supported the hospital and the subsequent hospitals opened in Quincy, as did the Good Samaritans, also formed by Quincy women for war relief in July, 1861. These groups supplied clothes, linens, food, and bandages among other miscellaneous items. They ministered to the sick and wounded by visiting them in hospital and taking them into their homes.
Mr. L. A. Horsman of Rockford, Illinois, came to Quincy in May, 1862, to visit his son and described the city as having two hospitals, one for the wounded and one for the sick. Hospital No. 1 was located on the west side of Fifth Street between Ohio and Delaware. It was a large brick building 150 ft by 100 ft., on a lot originally owned by ex-Governor Joel A. Matteson but later deeded to the state. It remained open throughout the war, closing in 1865. It was considered a general hospital with its first four cases arriving from Missouri on August 2, 1861, to find an almost empty building. During its first three months, the hospital treated 605 cases with only 18 deaths.
Late in 1864, Mrs. S. A. M. Blackford, the chief female nurse at this hospital, was dismissed from her position by order of Major D. G. Brinton, Surgeon, U. S. Vols., who was in charge of general hospitals in Quincy. Mrs. Blackford, former owner of a millinery shop at 25 Fifth Street, was employed at the hospital as a nurse. She had noticed that the food for the soldiers “was inferior in quality and insufficient in quantity.” Feeling unable to get the attention of those in charge, she circulated a petition among the soldiers and took it personally to Governor Richard Yates in Springfield. Her dismissal was because she was using “unmilitary conduct in appealing to the civil authorities.”
Hospital No. 2 opened in May, 1862 due to the need to accommodate growing numbers of casualties from the battle of Shiloh, fought on April 6 & 7, 1862, at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee. The first 80 casualties arrived on April 17th on the Steamer Black Hawk under Captain Brand. Forty stayed in Quincy and the rest were sent home to recover or went further north on the railroad. Dr. I. T. Wilson was in charge of Hospital No. 2 with Dr. Reuben Wood as his assistant. It was located on the east side of Fifth Street between Maine and Jersey. Mrs. E. J. Bushnell was matron.
In May, 1862 Congress passed a bill allowing President Lincoln to appoint chaplains to army hospitals, largely due to the influence of Lincoln’s friend and prominent Quincyan, Orville H. Browning. Horatio Foote was appointed chaplain for the Quincy hospitals, and later in 1863, Rev. Dr. Samuel Hopkins Emery of the Congregational Church was appointed. Dr. Emery said, “Not a soldier from the Quincy hospitals was buried in our beautiful burial grounds on the river bank without a burial service.”
Hospital No. 3 opened in October, 1862, on the northeast corner of Sixth and Spring Street. Dr. Bailey was in charge of No. 3 under Dr. Nichols. When opened, it was to be used only when Hospitals Nos. 1 and 2 were full. That changed as the war went on and more hospitals, nos. 4 and 5 were opened.
Hospital No. 4 opened in April, 1863. It was located in the Quincy German & English Methodist College on Spring Street between Third and Fourth Streets. Dr. D. C. Owen was the surgeon in charge. In February of 1864, the four Quincy hospitals were renamed Division Hospitals Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 and placed under the supervision of Brigade Surgeon Nichols. In July, 1864, The Quincy Whig reported a number of soldiers in transit who were being sent to the various Quincy hospitals saying, “We are glad to learn that Quincy is to be made the general rendezvous for all the sick, wounded and disabled soldiers of our State”.
Hospital No. 5 opened on September 24, 1864, and was located on the prairie east of Twelfth Street and north of Broadway where the old barracks were fitted for hospital use. The surgeons on duty were Drs. Dickerhoff, Lewis, and Manfred with Clarinda Olin as the chief matron. In late 1864, while thanking the Good Samaritans for the supplies received, the staff invited the ladies to visit and said, “Our buildings do not present a very impressive appearance in exterior, but we can show a nice, comfortable, well kept quarters within.”
In April, 1865, the staff under Dr. Dickerhoff solicited garden seeds as they desired a vegetable garden …”providing important and pleasant food, healthful and agreeable exercise, and also as to the point of economy to the Government.” In May, 1865, they dedicated a reading room for which the soldiers contributed $150.
The hospital transferred their last patient on July 19, 1865. They had taken care of 1237 patients, and reported 18 deaths. Their statistical report to the community ended with, “The glorious termination of this war closes the Hospital, and it is to be hoped that no institution of the kind may be needed again in our day”
“A Certificate”. The Daily Whig Republican, February 20, 1865, 1.
“A Pleasant Time at Hospital No. 5”. The Quincy Whig, May 27, 1865, 2.
Constitution and By-laws of The Needle Pickets of the City of Quincy: Together with a Report of their
Proceedings from May 31, 1861 to May 31, 1862. Quincy, IL: Whig and Republican Power Press Print, 1862.
Emery, Rev. Dr. Samuel Hopkins. “Quincy Women in the War”. The Quincy Morning Whig, January 11,
Gay, Capt. William H. The Quincy Army Hospitals during the Civil War. [Speech]. Historical Society of
Quincy, April 21, 1914.
“Millinery Establishment”. The Daily Whig Republican. February 19, 1859.
“Matters at Hospital No. 5”. The Quincy Whig, December 31, 1864, 3.
“Recruits for our Hospitals”. The Quincy Whig, July 30, 1864, 3.
“Seed wanted for a Hospital Garden”. The Quincy Whig, April 1, 1865, 3.
Horsman, L. A. “The Quincy Hospitals”. The Quincy Whig Republican, June 7, 1862, 2.
Upton, Henry B. “Statistics of Div. No. 5 U. S. General Hospital, Quincy, Ill”. The Quincy Whig Republican,
July 22, 1865, 2.