Congressional Report
History of the Bureau of Freedmen and Refugees
March 10, 1868
Page 8
Congressional Records

Surgeon David O. McCord -  (from Grant, Lincoln, and the freedmen: reminiscences of the
Civil War with
... By John Eaton, Ethel Osgood Mason) To meet the medical necessities of our work
for the Negroes, Dr. D. O. McCord, Surgeon 63d U. S. C. I., was designated Surgeon-in-Chief of
Freedmen. His powers by this assignment proved inadequate, and he was made Medical Director of
Freedmen for the Department of Tennessee and State of Arkansas, with power to employ surgeons and
control medicines (December 1, 1863). Dr. McCord immediately began a tour of inspection, and set
himself to improve the conditions wherever these were unsatisfactory. The sanitary commissions were
appealed to for help in meeting the immediate needs of the sick-camps and hospitals. The Western
Sanitary Commission supplied antiscorbutic articles of diet through its depot in Vicksburg; the North
Western Freedmen Aid Commission also sent vegetables. The latter organization sent  ten physicians,
who, however, received their pay from the Govern ment. Dr. McCord next undertook to procure better
hospital buildings, and with this end in view he made a trip to the Northern States, interviewing the
various aid commissions and appealing to Northern benevolence.  $5000 of the Freedmen Fund was
placed at his disposal for this purpose, and it was hoped a like amount could be raised. Apart from
$1000 given by the National Freedmen Aid Society, and a donation of some $400 from a member of
the firm which contracted to furnish the buildings, the eight hospitals ordered by Dr. McCord were paid
for by the funds dispensed by the Freedmen's Department. The reports of the said commissions give the
impression ” unintentionally no doubt  that nothing was done for the sanitary condition of the Negroes.
The above facts are quoted from Dr. McCord's report dated June 28, 1864. In conclusion he says: "On
the first day of December there were eight surgeons employed with these people in the Department of
the Tennessee and State of Arkansas. Most of them were incompetent, and were relieved from duty for
that reason. Now we have thirty-two, all educated men, who take an interest in the work. Then we had
but one hospital worthy of the name; now we have one in every camp, or within reach of it. Wherever
the Government has colored laborers, we send surgeons, hospital and medical stores."

This favorable advance in the medical affairs of the freed people was hardly secured before the Surgeon-
General found the medical appropriations ot Congress falling short of the necessities of the army in its
active operations. The Secretary of War accordingly ordered  " No issue will be made, or bills paid, by
the Medical Department, on account of Freedmen not in the United States service." Fortunately, having
hospitals and moderate supplies under our own control, my officers, aided by the purchase of medicines
by the Freedmen Fund, and the assistance of the aid societies, were able to limit the extent of this
disaster. Arrangements were later made with the Surgeon-General and the Secretary of the Treasury to
secure the freedmen against such emergencies.

2  (from
The Freedmen's bureau: a chapter in the history of reconstruction by Paul Pierce) One of
the first duties of the bureau was to attend to the physical wants of those actually suffering. Its
organization found some hospitals already established. In the Mississippi valley and in the District of
Columbia, General Eaton and Surgeon Horner had inaugurated systematic plans for the care of the
destitute sick. The sanitary commissions and freedmen's aid societies had also turned their attention to
this field. In Augusta, Georgia, a society of colored people had established and equipped a freedmen's
hospital. These institutions were filled with the sick, the imbecile, the insane, the deaf and dumb, the
maimed, the deformed, the orphaned, and the aged. General Howard early saw that they needed aid and
direction. They needed to be increased in number and capacity. The act of March 3, 1865, made no
provision for medical or hospital service, but the powers of the. commissioner were ample and the
medical division early found a place in the bureau.

General Howard consulted the surgeon general who aided by detailing surgeons and furnishing medical
Surgeon C. W. Horner was chosen chief medical officer of the bureau. He was a member of
the army medical board and as superintendent of freedmen's affairs in the District of Columbia, he had
shown marked efficiency in organizing a system of medical relief. During the summer of 1865, fourteen
surgeons and three assistant surgeons were detailed as local bureau officers in the several states. They
were instructed to relieve the medical department of the army of the care of the sick refugees and
freedmen, to aid the assistant commissioners in establishing new hospitals, and to employ the requisite
number of physicians and attendants to minister to the wants of the sick. They promptly engaged a
considerable number of physicians and still larger corps of attendants. Medical and hospital supplies
were furnished by the general surgeon. The salaries of private physicians were paid by voluntary
contributions or from the general fund of the bureau. During the first year, serious embarrassment arose
from the want of congressional appropriation. After 1866, however, the medical division received a
liberal share of the sum annually appropriated for bureau purposes.

The existent hospitals, asylums, and colonies, were maintained and enlarged by the bureau. An effort was
made to provide facilities adequate to the needs of unfortunate freedmen aud refugees. The territorial
extension of the bureau in 1866 necessitated a corresponding increase in the number of those institutions.
But, in the following year, the chief medical officer determined upon a policy of retrenchment. A few
hospitals were displaced by dispensaries

Surgeon C. W. Horner - Assigned in June, 1865 as Chief Medical Officer on the staff of General O.
O. Howard. From O. O. Howard's
Autobiography: The medical arrangement was most important, —
that with the surgeon general. Our medical work had at first been done in an irregular way; but on August
3, 1865, Surgeon General Barnes kindly directed his medical purveyors to issue medical and hospital
supplies to our medical officers. All the provisions in the Bureau law were thus given effect for at least
one year after the close of the war, and that date, hardly fixed by any single event, was given a liberal
interpretation. June 16th, Surgeon Caleb W. Horner became my medical director. With alacrity he
entered upon his multifarious duties, and little by little extended the Medical Division throughout the
States where the Bureau was already operating, especially to all the colonies, camps, hospitals, and
orphan asylums directly and indirectly under our charge.

From time to time as he needed them he called for medical assistants and they were promptly furnished.
By the middle of August he had seventeen such assistants from the army, covering the whole territory
from Maryland to Louisiana. The last of November he wrote: "Although the Bureau has not yet reached
the remote sections of the South, already forty-two hospitals with accommodations for 4,500 patients
are in operation and facilities are afforded for the treatment of 5,000 sick in twenty-four asylums and
established colonies."

Besides the medical officers designated, eighty-three physicians and 180 male and 177 female attendants
were employed by contract. With regard to the work of this great division it may be said that at the close
of the year 2,531 white refugees had been under medical treatment and 45,898 freedmen had received
medical aid, yet there remained in all the hospitals only 388 refugees and 6,645 freedmen. The
percentage of deaths during the year, owing to the previous hardships to which the patients had been
exposed, was unusually large; for refugees 9 per cent had died, and for freedmen 13 per cent. Before
systematic medical aid was extended to these people they were found to be dying at the rate of 30 per
cent. But where the relief system of the Bureau had been made complete, as in the District of Columbia,
the mortality was reduced to less than 4 per cent.

Florida Hospital -  The original hospital had been located in Jacksonville. On March 26, 1866 with
Major Arthur Williams supervising the patients were moved by the
Darlington to the new hospital
established at Magnolia in the old Magnolia Hotel, twenty miles above Jacksonville, on the St. John's
river by Colonel Osborn, and contained forty-one destitutes.The Florida report of Feb., 1870, gives
force employed as two physicians and six nurses. 653 negroes were treated in this hospital (at Magnolia)
during the year 1868-9. In October 1866 the hospital was under the direction of Dr. J. W. Applegate.
Dr. Applegate also had the general superintendence of the Orphan's Asylum that had been moved to
Magnolia. It was still under the immediate direction of Chloe Merrick with a Miss Farnham assisting. By
late April 1869 the owners,
Nathan and Emma Benedict sold out to physician Seth Rogers and Oliver
Harris, the simple three-story structure was dilapidated.

The plans were in the works from the beginning to move the hospital to the Chattahoochee arsenal. The
hospital was not established in Chattahoochee until 1876 although part of the original plans of
establishing a state prison there was met in 1868 by Governor Harrison Reed. The first prisoner was
Calvin Williams convicted of Larceny.

Closing of Hospitals - see Robert Rayburn Chief Medical Officer by O. O. Howard June 30, 1869

Indexing Terms:
Adjutant General of the army, Virginia, District of Columbia, Freedman's village Arlington, North
Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas,
Surgeon David O McCord
Department of the South
Port Royal Experiment
USCT Bounties
Freedmen's Aid Societies
Bureau Educational Activities
Freedmen Bureau Education
Assorted Documents
Freedmen's Bureau Table of
Freedmen's Bureau Assorted
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