Below New Orleans : The Hospital at Pilot Town

New York Times, 23 June 1862

Friday, June 6, 1862.

During a visit to the Hospital I collected some information which I briefly subjoin. The hospital proper is a large building formerly used as a kind of hotel or boarding-house for the pilots who, in the pursuit of their labors, temporarily stopped at Pilottown. It is situated on one of the bayous leading from the Mississippi to East Bar. It is the largest house in the place, and like all the buildings here, is roomy and well ventilated. Besides the principal building, a smaller one adjoining is used for hospital purposes. The whole is under charge of Dr. Wales, formerly surgeon of the Colorado, assisted by Dr. Burbank, of the Santee, and Dr. Burt, of the Colorado.

Since the establishment of this post for the reception and treatment of patients, but five deaths have occurred, which is a very small number considering how limited are the means provided for the care of the wounded, and is, in itself, a very high testimonial to the efficiency of the surgeons in charge. I subjoin a list of those who have died, their ships and injuries, from data furnished me by Dr. Burt: John Hancock, seaman, United States steamer Portsmouth, leg carried away by a round shot, died April 26, 1862; John Jenkins, seaman, United States steamer Pensacola, received a buckshot wound in the right breast; he died on May 4; James Webby, captain mizzentop, United States steamer Brooklyn, injured by fragments of shell, which tore the whole side of his face and head away; he died May 7; John Ryan, Quartermaster, United States steamer Pensacola, wounded in the head by a fragment of shell; he died May 8; William Joyce, seaman, of the Pensacola, gunshot wound in the kneepan, died May 18. For the comfort of the relatives of these poor fellows, I'll give a short description of the burial-ground. It is situated on the south side of the bayou, opposite the hospital, and is neatly enclosed by a picket fence. It was formerly the garden of one of the houses here, and for beauty and quietness is well suited to the purpose for which it is now used. In the enclosure are a number of orange trees in full bloom, the fragrance from which is very delightful and refreshing. Oleanders are in profusion, and great varieties of the minor flowering plants indigenous to this soil are scattered throughout this "silent city of the dead."

At the head of each grave a neat board is placed, deeply engraven in which is the name and date of death of the occupant, together with such other particulars as could be ascertained by the surgeons, and which may be useful in assisting the surviving relatives in procuring the bodies hereafter, should such be the wish of anyone. The headboards are all substantial, and care is taken in placing them that they may stand as long as possible.

In the hospital there are now fifty-three patients. Not a single case is of a serious nature. The situation of every one at present under treatment is considered by the surgeons as very favorable, and Dr. Burt told me that in less than a month every case now in hand will probably be discharged, and the hospitals empty, unless others are landed before then from some of the many ships in and about the river.

Pilottown is at present, and has been since April 3, under charge of Lieut. McKean Tilton, of the Marine Corps, detailed from the Colorado, whose squad of marines, eighteen in number, is amply sufficient to take care of the place.