Harrisonburg, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Confederate General Hospital
Harrisonburg Female Academy
Harrisonburg was Rockingham County’s seat of government and largest town, and it was an ideal site for a hospital. When the Civil War began in 1861, although the railroad had not yet extended to Harrisonburg, the town sat at the intersection of four turnpikes, including the macadamized Valley Turnpike, the main avenue for travel through Virginia’s Great Valley.
Various buildings in Harrisonburg were used as temporary hospitals from the outset of the war. The most important of these was the Harrisonburg Female Academy at this location on Main Street. The large, three-story building had been built on this site in 1852. It was converted to hospital use in 1861, and Harrisonburg physician Dr. W.W.S. Butler was appointed surgeon in charge.
The academy building became an official Confederate General Hospital in October 1862. By the next July, 763 patients had been treated. Of that total, only 19 had died, a remarkable record for any Civil War hospital. Many of the fatalities were buried in Harrisonburg’s Woodbine Cemetery. There were so many sick and wounded in Harrisonburg during the summer of 1863, as troops retreated
As control of Harrisonburg alternated back and forth from Confederate to Union forces several times during the war, doctors staffing the hospital also changed sides. After the Battle of Cross Keys, more than 100 sick and wounded Union soldiers were left in and around the town with five Federal surgeons remaining behind to take care of them.
“Only a little time elapsed … before the building used as a school house in days of peace was converted into a hospital, and from that time until the summer of 1865 it was never without the sick and wounded. … Several battles were fought near the town, and the hospitals were often filled with the wounded of both armies.”
— Orra Gray Langhorne, Our Women of the War (1885)
Erected 2010 by Virginia Civil War Trails and Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Science & Medicine • War, US Civil • Women. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical month for this entry is July 1861.
Location. 38° 26.771′ N, 78° 52.171′ W. Marker is in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Marker is on South Main Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 345 South Main Street, Harrisonburg VA 22801, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Warren-Sipe House (within shouting distance of this marker); Hardesty-Higgins House (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Harrisonburg Downtown Historic District (about 400 feet away); Bishop Francis Asbury (about 500 feet away); McNeill’s Rangers (about 600 feet away); Charlotte Harris Lynched (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Big Spring (approx. 0.2 miles away); In Honor of Charles Watson Wentworth (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Harrisonburg.
More about this marker. On the lower left is a sketch with the caption, "Collecting the wounded after an engagement, 1864" Courtesy Library of Congress
On the right is a water color with the caption, "Harrisonburg Female Academy (demolished in 1879), watercolor by Austin Loewner" Courtesy Massanutten Regional Library
On the lower right is a "You Are Here" map of downtown Harrisonburg.
Also see . . .
1. Civil War Trails in Harrisonburg & Rockingham County. (Submitted on December 28, 2010.)
2. Virginia Civil War Trails - Harrisonburg and area. Civil War Traveler (Submitted on December 28, 2010.)
3. Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation. (Submitted on December 28, 2010.)
Credits. This page was last revised on November 5, 2021. It was originally submitted on December 28, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,854 times since then and 44 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on December 28, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. 5. submitted on January 14, 2012, by Linda Walcroft of Woodstock, Virginia.