Tuesday, April 21, 2015

(SCOFIELD) Sitting Out the Civil War

Jesse Arthur Bynum Reid came from a
Jesse Arthur Bynum Reid
family of small landholders and tenant farmers in North Carolina. Not surprisingly, they harvested cotton and tobacco. At the beginning of the Civil War, Jesse headed a family of seven. His wife had several more children during and after the war.

Chimborazo was a convalescent hospital: its patients were typically sick, not wounded. It was the largest Richmond hospital. Jesse was one of 3,550 men admitted to Chimborazo in May 1863; 75,000 patients were admitted during the 3 1/2 years of the hospital's existence.

Whether for duty, honor, lucre, or some other motivator, Jesse enlisted in the Confederate army in March 1862, joining Company K of the 12th North Carolina Infantry Regiment. Digital records shed little light on Jesse's military participation that year. Documents from 1863 are more revealing.

On May 2, 1863, Jesse was admitted to General Hospital #9 in Richmond, Virginia. Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy, and also the South's largest hospital center. Because of its proximity to the railroad depot, #9 was a receiving hospital. Patients were admitted, assessed, and typically sent elsewhere.

Jesse was processed in good time: on the same day he was transferred to Chimborazo Hospital, also in Richmond.

 Chimborazo Hospital, the "hospital on the hill."

Chimborazo had five divisions, organized by State. Jesse was assigned to Chimborazo 3, with other men from North Carolina. The idea was apparently to throw together men from the same troops, who were then cared for by attendants from their own states. The State divisions also simplified mail delivery.

Jesse did not remain in Chimborazo 3 for long. A few days after his admittance, Jesse was transferred again. On May 7, he was sent to Lynchburg.

Lynchburg was the second largest hospital center in the Confederacy. At the busiest times, Lynchburg was home to more hospital patients than city residents! At any given time, 32 local hospitals cared for 3,000-4,000 soldiers. Eighteen of the hospitals were converted tobacco warehouses. When emptied, these large warehouses made great hospital wards. Statistically, chances are good that Jesse resided in a tobacco warehouse hospital.

Lynchburg tobacco warehouse

Muster rolls state that Jesse was absent, sick at the hospital, throughout the summer of 1863. He might have remained at Lynchburg, or he might have been transferred somewhere else.

Civil War hospital

By October, he was apparently at Camp Winder (also called Winder Hospital) back in Richmond. Winder Hospital seems to have been well regulated. The hospital had 98 buildings, from necessities, such as employee barracks, cook-houses, and bathhouses, to basic amenities, like a large library and recreation facilities, that made hospital life more pleasant. Winder Hospital also provided regular transportation service to the downtown area and had its own river and canal boats. In this environment, less comfortable than home but superior to the field, Jesse spent his second year of enlistment.

On December 21, 1863, Jesse's war service, as it was, came to an end. After apparently 8 months of convalescing in hospitals, he was discharged for disability.

Discharge and final payment information 

Were it not for his disability, Jesse would have seen action in two spectacular battles. While he was being admitted to the hospital on May 2, the rest of his regiment was 65 miles away fighting the battle of Chancellorsville, which is considered Robert E. Lee's greatest victory of the entire war. While Jesse continued on at the hospital in July, his company engaged in the most famous Civil War battle: Gettysburg.

How Jesse might have felt about sitting out most of the Civil War I don't know. His feelings about the Confederate commander, however, seem to be pretty clear. Five years after the war ended Jesse had another son: Robert Lee Reid.


Line of descent: 
Jesse Arthur Bynum Reid (1829-1875)
John Parry Reid (1853-1936)
Claudia Helen Reid (1889-1961)
Guy Wixon Scofield (1913-1984)

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