Author: Dave Ruth

the superintendent at Richmond National Battlefield Park and Maggie L. Walker Historic Site in Richmond, Virginia

Chimborazo Hospital

Chimborazo Hospital, located in the Confederate capital of Richmond, was the largest and most famous medical facility in the South during the American Civil War (1861–1865). The hospital admitted nearly 78,000 patients suffering from battlefield wounds and diseases. Of this number, approximately 6,500 to 8,000 died, resulting in a mortality rate of about 9 percent. Few hospitals in the Confederacy had lower mortality rates, and those that did generally received patients who were further along in their recovery. The best-staffed and equipped Union hospitals, in comparison, achieved a 10 percent mortality rate. With no model to draw on, Chimborazo Hospital’s success can be attributed to a combination of its open-air, pavilion-style design; the comparatively good quality of care; innovative practices; and the supreme dedication of the caregivers—men and women, black and white, slave and free. Their efforts contributed to one of the great advancements in mid-nineteenth-century medicine: the acceptance of hospital care for the sick and injured, which was a concept not embraced in America prior to 1865.