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Roster of Commanding Officers

Naval Hospital, Washington, D.C.

Roster of Commanding Officers of the Naval Hospital, Washington, DC, Page 3


The first mention in Washington of a Place for the Care of the sick is in the orders of Surgeon John Bullus. In January, 1802, he received orders to prepare rooms at the Navy yard for the reception of sick seamen.

Apparently some sort of a hospital, prior to 1807 was established outside of the Navy Yard. We know this hospital was in use when Surgeon Ewell reported as Surgeon of the Yard. It could not have been in very good condition as Ewell offered to give one year’s pay "To help better its condition”. There is no record of this offer being accepted. This also must have been the hospital referred to in the orders of Surgeon Cutbush. These orders read for duty "at the hospital established City of Washington”. Cutibush later refers to it and its rent of $200.00 dollars per year.

In a letter dated 1819, Cutbush complains about a hospital site near marshy land. He states he was not consulted when it was obtained. William Jones, Secretary of the Navy, June 25, 1814, gives the terns and arrangement, with a Mr. Timothy Winn for the purchase of some property for $3,000.00. The statement, “Having occasion for the said premises as a temporary hospital for the Navy of the United States”, leads us to think this may have been the place objected to by Cutbush. If this is so we doubt if it was in use before May 2, 1815. Cutbush on that date again mentions the $200.00 per year farm house, It must have been about this time that the old farm house hospital was discontinued. No further mention of it is made.

Some time about 1835 we learn of a hospital attached to the Marine Barracks. We get this information from the orders of Asst. Surgeon Jonathan Foltz. Many letters signed by Bailey Washington from Headquarters Marine Corps, make mention of a hospital at that place. This hospital at the Marine Barracks was in use until the increase in personnel due to the Civil War made large accomodations necessary.

We are not certain when the hospital outside the Navy Yard was discontinued. It may have been moved to the Navy Yard about the time the hospital at the Marine Barracks was placed in commission. No Letters of this period show that there was a hospital at the Navy Yard. No mention of any other is made except the one at the Marine Barracks.

This Navy Yard hospital was to be discontinued in 1848, but that same year the Navy Department decided to keep both hospitals in commission. It was arranged that the Asst. Surgeon of the Yard Surgeon was to be available for either hospital when necessary. It appears that the Senior Surgeon at the Yard or Marine Barracks was in charge of both hospitals. The list of Medical Officers in charge of the Washington hospitals has been made according to that interpretation of available documents. A Memorandum found in the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery states that after 1849 the sick were treated at the Marine Barracks. This must have been about the time the Yard institution was discontinued. It may, however, been a later date. A letter from Surgeon Bailey Washington, dated April 2,1852, makes mention of “The hospital at this station”.

The first mention of a Naval Hospital at Washington in the Naval Register is for the year 1863. Among the activities listed in Washington for 1863, is a hospital near the Insane Asylum. Any hospital in Washington prior to Oct. 1, 1886, when the Naval Hospital at Penna. Ave. and 10th. St. SE. was placed in commission must have been of a temporary nature and a part of some other activity. The regular Naval Hospitals in commission prior to the Civil War were at Boston, New York, Norfolk, Pensacola and the Naval Asylum at Philadelphia.

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Last updated August 29, 2009