The Civil War saw thousands of battlefield casualties, as well as epidemics of measles, smallpox, diarrhea, tetanus, and malaria. Wartime Lynchburg, then a city of about 3,000 whites and 3,000 enslaved African Americans, became a major hospital center for the Confederacy.
Sick and wounded soldiers arrived by train and were treated in the city’s military hospitals, which after 1862 included nineteen converted tobacco factories. Here, slaves and free blacks worked as cooks, laundry workers, and nurses. These African Americans played a vital role in caring for ailing soldiers.
Male slave nurses also worked on ambulance trains on Virginia railroads, keeping the cars stocked with fresh water and clean bandages.