History Comes Home To Harrodsburg: Hospital Ledger Lists The Wounded From The Battle Of Perryville
Friends of Perryville Battlefield
An important piece of history recently came back to Harrodsburg last week thanks to the Friends of Perryville Battlefield and the Harrodsburg Historical Society. After the Battle of Perryville, thousands of dying and wounded men crowded into every structure within a 10-mile radius of the battlefield. Harrodsburg was overwhelmed with thousands of wounded from the nearby battle.
A hospital ledger attributed to Dr. Robert Wilson Thrift, the regimental surgeon of the 49th Ohio, was recently discovered on Ebay. This ledger contained the names and regimental information of hundreds of wounded soldiers that were treated in one of the Harrodsburg hospitals.
The Friends of Perryville Battlefield, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the landscape and artifacts of Kentucky’s bloodiest day, retrieved the ledger from a New York antique dealer. Thanks to many kind donors, this rare piece of history has now been returned to Harrodsburg via the Harrodsburg Historical Society.
“We are grateful to the Friends of Perryville Battlefield for the gift of this unique primary source, the only physician’s ledger that documents soldiers treated here in Harrodsburg. This is a rich resource for genealogists and military historians and will provide many opportunities for future research,” said Nancy Hill, president of the HHS.
The ledger was presented to the Harrodsburg Historical Society March 14 in Harrodsburg by Chad Greene, president of the Friends of Perryville Battlefield.
“This incredible document is a survivor. Many of those young men’s families may not have known what happened to their loved one during the war. We hope that this is a chance to give back to those men who sacrificed so much. We are both thrilled and grateful to be able to bring this rare artifact back to Kentucky,” Greene said.
After transcribing the ledger, Civil War historian and preservationist Joni House said several mysteries are unsolved about the ledger.
“Although the ledger is attributed to Dr. Thrift, we cannot be sure until further research is done. We know the 49th Ohio was in Harrodsburg and that Dr. Thrift was with the regiment,” House said. “We know it was a Harrodsburg hospital, but we can’t be sure which one. There are discrepancies with some of the Georgia regiments. When the hospital roll was taken, several of the Georgia boys may have given false information about the regiments they were with.”
Friends of Perryville is seeking donations to complete the work. If you interested in donating to the effort or want to help solve some of these mysteries, visit the Friends of Perryville website at friendsofperryville.org.
To learn more about Mercer County history and local events, visit harrodsburghistorical.org.