On April 17, 1861, Virginia seceded from the Union. On the 17th, the Gordonsville Grays received orders to report to the parade ground. Joined by Companies from Staunton and Charlottesville, they departed on the train from Gordonsville to Harpers Ferry. On April 22, Robert E. Lee arrived at Gordonsville en route to Richmond.
Gordonsville and the railroads which joined there were of immense value to the South during the Civil War. The use of railroads during war were an unknown factor at this time, and the Civil War would later be referred to as the first "railroad war."
In March 1862, the Exchange Hotel, was taken over by military authorities and received the wounded from the battlefields for the duration of the war. It became known as the Gordonsville Receiving Hospital. Dr. B.M Lebby of South Carolina was the director and its operation continued under his leadership until October 1865.
The wounded and dying from nearby battlefields such as Cedar Mountain, Chancellorsville, Trevilian Station, Mine Run, Brandy Station, and the Wilderness were brought by the trainloads. Although this was primarily a Confederate facility, the hospital treated the wounded from both sides. Twenty-six Union soldiers died here.
By war's end more than 70,000 men had been treated at the Gordonsville Receiving Hospital and just over 700 would be buried on its surrounding grounds and later interred at Maplewood Cemetery in Gordonsville.
It is to be remembered, too, when we read of the work of the surgeons and contemplate the mortality figures that antiseptics were unknown, the relation of dirt to infection was generally not understood, anesthesia was just coming into general use, and drugs were inadequate.
Twice as many men died of disease than of gunshot wounds in the Civil War. Dysentery, measles, small pox, pneumonia, and malaria were the soldier's greatest enemy. The overall poor hygiene in camp, the lack of adequate sanitation facilities, the cold and lack of shelter and suitable clothing, the poor quality of food and water, and the crowded condition of the camps made the typical camp a literal breeding ground for disease.
Contrary to popular myth, most amputees did not experience the surgery without anesthetic. Ample doses of chloroform were administered beforehand.
The Surgeon General instructed the Medical Purveying Depots and Surgeons in the field to gather medicinal plants whose properties may be utilized as substitute medicines. The following recaps several commonly-used plants, and is provided by Jonathan O’Neal, MD Surgeon, PACS, and Society of Civil War Surgeons.
|Day Tours (Self-Guided)|
|Children (8 - 12)||$3.00|
|Children (7yrs. & under)||Free|
|Evening Tours (Public)|
|Friday Nights Only:|
|8pm - 12pm||$25.00|
|* Check our Event Calendar for scheduled dates.
* Check our Evening Tours page for additional information.
|* Must be 16 or older.
* Guests under 16 must be approved prior
to the night of the tour.
|Monday - Thursday||10 - 4pm|
|Saturday||10 - 4pm|
|Sunday||1 - 4pm|
|All Major Holidays
(i.e. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter)
The Museum building, a National Historic Landmark, is not handicap accessible, and takes approximately 1+ hours to explore the three levels of exhibitions.