New marker documents role of Macon’s Civil War hospitals

jgaines@macon.comMarch 27, 2013 

Macon’s role in caring for thousands of wounded Civil War soldiers is featured on the latest in a series of markers, dedicated Wednesday, which describe local events during and around the war.

The Macon Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee unveiled the second of six such plaques, this one outside the former home of Dr. James Mercer Green at 843 Poplar St.

“In the summer of 1864, Macon was second only to Richmond (Va.) in caring for Confederate wounded,” said Waldo Floyd, a local doctor. He read from the book “Walking on Cotton” by Conie Mac Darnell, from which much of the marker’s information came.

Green, who had planned to educate blind children in Macon, instead found himself organizing a dozen military hospitals around town, Floyd said.

It began with 15 train cars loaded with wounded from the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862, and grew until Macon City Hall and the Bibb County Courthouse, private homes and a saloon had been pressed into service. The last resort was a tent-city hospital in the Vineville area, Floyd said.

About 40 people gathered in front of the pink house at the corner of Poplar and Spring Street Lane, which is now the law office of Art Phillips and Rhonda Jones.

Macon played an “unbelievable role” in caring for Confederate wounded, said Don Faulk, former CEO of The Medical Center of Central Georgia. The patients who arrived after Shiloh would have more than filled today’s hospitals, he said.

When Atlanta fell to Union Gen. William T. Sherman on Sept. 2, 1864, trainloads evacuated from that city came to Macon, Faulk said. More than 6,000 injured moved through Macon’s impromptu hospitals in 1864 alone, he said.

Faulk gestured toward the monument to women of the Confederacy, less than two blocks down Poplar Street, and noted that it specifically lauds them for “nursing the sick.”

Bill Elliott, chairman of the sesquicentennial committee, said the first of the six planned markers went up on the corner of First and Mulberry streets to describe religious life during the war. Four more are planned: one at Rose Hill Cemetery, one about the contributions of African-Americans during the Reconstruction period, one describing war production at the former arsenal and armory, and one at the now-vacant site of the original railroad depot on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Elliott said.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

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