Reminiscences of a Southern Hospital, by Its Matron

Read by Sue Anderson

(4.6 stars; 26 reviews)

Phoebe Yates Pember served as a matron in the Confederate Chimborazo military hospital in Richmond, Virginia, during the Civil War, overseeing a dietary kitchen serving meals to 300 or more wounded soldiers daily. Reminiscences of a Southern Hospital is her vivid recounting of hospital life and of her tribulations (and personal growth) as a female administrator. To follow her from day one, when she is greeted with “ill-repressed disgust” that “one of them had come,” and she, herself, “could only understand that the position was one which dove-tailed the offices of housekeeper and cook” to the day when she as exerts control over the hospital’s “medicinal whiskey barrel” is to watch a woman find herself. Besides describing “daily scenes of pathos,” Pember gives a horrifying account of the prisoner exchange of November 1864 (“living and dead . . . not distinguishable”), and also of the evacuation and burning of Richmond in 1865. Her memoirs were serialized in Cosmopolite magazine in 1866, then reprinted in book form in 1879 under the title A Southern Woman’s Story. Pember was honored by the US Postal Service with a stamp in 1995. (Summary by Sue Anderson) (4 hr 18 min)


1 - My Mammy's Soup; The Whiskey Barrel 34:29 Read by Sue Anderson
2 - Our Daily Trials; Sober Ladies Wanted 26:44 Read by Sue Anderson
3 - Sad Letters; State Peculiarities and Differences 34:41 Read by Sue Anderson
4 - Hopeless Enebriates; What Constitutes a Lady? 31:10 Read by Sue Anderson
5 - Rat Surgeons; Vaccination 22:53 Read by Sue Anderson
6 - Prisoners of War 25:51 Read by Sue Anderson
7 - My Furlough; Importance of Hatpins 25:13 Read by Sue Anderson
8 - Burning of the City; Entrance of the Federal Army 23:42 Read by Sue Anderson
9 - Final Scenes 33:22 Read by Sue Anderson


Moving Account

(5 stars)

This is a sad, moving firsthand account of some aspects of how a hospital during the War Between the States was run. It is well read, albeit with a somewhat slow cadence. There is dry humor spread throughout the sad tale but mostly I felt pity for all those who suffered so horribly.

Very well written. Fine narration by Sue Anderson.

(4.5 stars)

Stellar Bio by a Southern Lady. Rare use of now- offensive words

(4 stars)