|Robert Rayburn, Chief Medical Officer, Bureau of R. F. &
Annual Report to O. O. Howard
June 30, 1869
Freedmen Bureau Records
The number of freedmen's hospitals in operation in the southern States on July 1, 1868, was
twenty-one, (21,) the number of dispensaries (where medicines were furnished to those who
applied for them) was forty-eight, (48.)(See Table A.)
During the period embraced in this report, special attention has been devoted to the contracting
as rapidly as possible the operations of the medical department of the Bureau. Just as far as the
southern States became reconstructed and provided with the requisite State and municipal
organizations, which enable them to take charge of their own poor, the hospitals were turned
over to them. In no case, however, were the hospitals closed until arrangements had previously
been made for the care and support of the helpless inmates. In many cases the Commissioner,
as an inducement to the State and city authorities to assume charge of tho hospital, donated to
them the partly worn hospital furniture, medicines, &c, on condition that the United States
government should be relieved from the future support of the patients.
The closing of the hospitals, above referred to, was carried on continuously during 1868, and
during the earlier part of 1869 the hospitals at Talladega, Alabama, New Orleans, Louisiana,
Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Louisville, Kentucky, were also closed, leaving open on June 30,
1869, only two freedmen hospitals, one located at Richmond, Virginia, and one at Washington,
Thus it will be seen that since the date of the last annual report, the number of hospitals has
decreased from twenty-one (21) to two, (2,) and of the forty-eight (48) dispensaries open at date
of last report, not one is now in operation in the southern States.
Brevet Colonel and Surgeon L. A. Edwards continued acceptably to perform the duties of chief
medical officer, until he was, (at his own request,) on April 6, 1869, relieved, and succeeded by
Dr. R. Reyburn.
The number of patients remaining under treatment in the hospitals at Richmond, Virginia, is two
hundred and thirty-nine, (239,) and at Washington, D. C, is three hundred and two, (302 ;) total
live hundred and forty-one, (541.)
The vast majority of these patients are so helpless, either from old age or bodily infirmity; that
they will require to be supported from some source during the remainder of their lives. In the
hospital at Richmond there are at present seventy-one (71) insane colored patients. The proper
disposal of these persons has been a source of great embarrassment on account of there being
no accommodations at either of the State asylums at Staunton or Williamsburg, Virginia, for their
In order to obviate this difficulty, I would respectfully recommend that a temporary building be
erected adjoining the hospital building at Washington, D. C, which will contain these insane
patients, and that, as soon as it is completed they be removed to Washington, D. C. The hospital
at Richmond can then be closed, thus effecting a large saving annually to the government.
The number of freed people treated during the year has been sixty-five thousand seven hundred
and ninety-two, (65,792;) of these thirteen hundred and forty-one (1,341) have died, being two
(2) per cent, of those under treatment.(See Table B.)
The number of white refugees under treatment by the medical officers on duty in the Bureau
during the year was twelve hundred and sixty-six, (1,266;) of these eighteen (18) died, being 1
42/100 of the number treated.(See Table C.)
The total number of patients treated during tho year was sixty-seven thousand two hundred and
thirty-eight, (67,238,) and the total number of deaths was thirteen hundred and fifty-nine, (1,359.)
The number of births in hospital and elsewhere attended by medical officers of the Bureau was
seven hundred and sixty, (760;) vaccinations, one hundred and eight, (108.) (See Table D.)
The number of medical officers at date of last report was fifty-seven, (57.) (See Table E.) This
number has been reduced, by the closing of hospitals and dispensaries, to five, (5.) which is the
No epidemics or contagious diseases have appeared among the freed people during the past
The closing of so many hospitals has necessitated the severing of the ties that have so
pleasantly united the chief medical officer with the physicians on duty in the Bureau, and it is his
pleasing duty to bear witness to the conscientious, able, and upright manner in which they have
been performed. How irksome, fatiguing, and even dangerous their duties have been, is entirely
unknown to and unappreciated by the public. Where so many excelled, it may appear invidious to
distinguish, vet the energy and marked administrative ability of Dr. M. K. Hogan, surgeon-in-chief,
district of South Carolina, and late brevet colonel and surgeon United States volunteers, entitle
him to special mention.
The services of Dr. J.J. De Lamater, surgeon-in-chief, district of Virginia, late brevet lieutenant
colonel and surgeon United States volunteers and Dr. D. R. Brower, late acting assistant surgeon
United States Army, of the State of Virginia, have been of the most valuable and efficient
character, as -were also those of Dr. P. Glennon, late assistant surgeon United States
volunteers, on duty in the hospital at Washington, D. C.
The records of the office show that about a half million of recorded eases have been treated by
the physicians employed in the Bureau, and it will be quite safe to consider that at least an equal
number have been prescribed for where cases have not been recorded, thus making at least
one million of persons who have received medical assistance during the existence of the Bureau.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
ROBERT REYBURN, Chief Medical Officer, Bureau B. F. and A. L. Bvt. Brig. Gen. H. M.
Acting Assistant Adjutant General, Bureau B. F. and A. L.
Like us on Facebook