Civil War Hospital
Posted by: DougK
N 38° 16.938 W 085° 43.238
16S E 611895 N 4237911
Quick Description: This Indiana historic marker was placed by the Indiana Civil War Centennial Commission in 1962.
Location: Indiana, United States
Date Posted: 10/13/2011 2:34:56 PM
Waymark Code: WMCV75
This Indiana historic marker
was placed by the Indiana Civil War Centennial Commission in 1962. It is located at 301 Park Place on the northeast lawn of the Holt Masonic Orphan's Home.
The text of the marker reads:
CIVIL WAR HOSPITAL
Site of Jefferson General
Hospital, the third largest
hospital in the United States
during the Civil War. Under
Dr. Middleton Goldsmith's
command it served over
The following has been excerpted from the IHB review document on authenticating the facts of the sign:
The Indiana historic marker text correctly identifies the site of Jefferson General Hospital, but lacks details about the hospital’s development. According to secondary sources, such as Baird’s History of Clark County Indiana, the land used to construct the hospital was seized from Indiana Senator Jesse D. Bright after he expressed support for the Confederacy. Primary sources such as the 1862 New York Senate Journal confirm that Congressional debate occurred regarding the expulsion of Senator Bright, but the order to confiscate his land cannot be located by IHB staff.
Prior to the establishment of the hospital, the land confiscated from Senator Bright was
renamed Camp Joe Holt and utilized by Lovell H. Rousseau. According to the Indianapolis Star,
Rousseau used the Indiana land, then referred to as Camp Joe Holt, to recruit volunteers from Kentucky
for the Union cause “out of respect to the neutrality doctrine” being practiced in Kentucky. Secondary
sources refer to the location as ideal because the Ohio River facilitated the transportation of wounded
soldiers from Louisville and Nashville to Indiana. Primary sources including The United States Army and
Navy Journal (1865), photographs of Camp Joe Holt and the diary of soldier Louis C. Webber (1864-
1866), confirm that Jefferson General Hospital was located in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Primary sources
cannot be located regarding the period of transition from the confiscation of Senator Bright’s land to the
establishment of Camp Joe Holt, but newspaper articles from the early 1910’s mention Rousseau’s
activities at the camp. Additionally, the transformation from Camp Joe Holt to the Jefferson General
Hospital during the Civil War is undocumented and cannot be confirmed by primary sources. Garry J.
Nokes’ Images of America: Jeffersonville Indiana claims that the first soldiers wounded in the Civil War
were cared for at Camp Joe Holt, but that the army established more facilities in the area due to the
extreme amount of soldiers in need of medical assistance.
Sources could not be located to confirm the marker’s statement that Jefferson General was the
third largest hospital during the Civil War. The published diary of Elvira Powers (1866), a nurse at
Jefferson General during the war, alludes to the magnitude of the hospital with her statement, “Patients
in this hospital do not think much of other hospitals in comparison.” Secondary sources, Images of
America: Jeffersonville Indiana, Baird’s History of Clark County Indiana and IHS Collection Guide, state
that Jefferson General was the third largest hospital in the U.S. during the war. However, these
sources may have referenced the same source or each other. Further research is needed to validate the
claim that the hospital was the third largest in the country.