About the Civil War Washington Relational Database

Version 2.0 of the project relational database was launched in April 2012 and an advanced search was added in October 2012. The database identifies people, places, organizations, documents, and events that have a connection to Civil War DC, and includes more than 7,000 records documenting these entities and their relationships. The database will continue to grow over time. Users will find more information on the types of records and sources of information below. Users can browse and search within specific sections of the database or across its entirety. Basic keyword and advanced searches are available.

We are daily updating the database, including verifying existing records and creating new records and relationships. As part of this process, we are explicitly identifying sources of information for each record. To determine whether a record has been verified, users should consult both the last modified timestamp available within each record as well as the "Sources" section of the record. Records without a source identified and those showing a series of dashes for the last modified date have not been updated following the migration to the new database system and still need to be verified. Although we are confident that entities represented by these records have a connection to DC during the war, we need to verify additional information about them. We advise users to exercise discretion in relying on this unverified information.

The Civil War Washington database has been built in MySQL (version 5.0.67) and is delivered via a web interface using a cakePHP 1.3 framework. The database supports UTF-8 Unicode. The database model, including entity-relationship diagrams, is available upon request; in the future, this information will be available via the downloads section of the Data page. Version 2.0 is significantly different from the first iteration of the project database both conceptually and functionally. In developing the model for version 2.0, we had a significant amount of data on which to draw and an evolving sense of the larger project (see "Civil War Washington: An Experiment in Freedom, Integration, and Constraint").



The majority of person records represented in the database have been derived from two sources: the multi-volume Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion and population schedules of the 1860 census from Ward 1 in the District of Columbia. In addition, we have added records for other individuals documented as having been in Washington during the war on a limited, case-by-case basis. At present, the people section of the database is neither comprehensive nor representative of the populations living in and moving through DC during the war. As Civil War Washington develops, this section of the database will continue to grow, as will the range of people represented in the database and the sources of information about them. For example, in the near future we will add all people mentioned in the petitions filed in response to the DC Emancipation Act of 1862, as well as individuals from the remaining six wards of the 1860 census schedules.


The primary places thus far represented in the Civil War Washington database are bawdy houses, churches, forts, hospitals, and theaters. A small number of other types of places also are included. The inclusion of these places over others at this stage results from the organic growth of the project and research aims. Places included in the database will grow in number and variety as Civil War Washington continues to develop.

Bawdy Houses

In the mid-nineteenth century, a common term for brothels, or houses of prostitution, was "bawdy houses." The location of bawdy houses on our maps reveals, along with the theaters, the entertainment districts of the city. Both civilian and military police regularly raided bawdy houses in efforts to crack down on disorderly conduct, public drunkenness and brawling. Bawdy houses appearing in "Bawdy Houses," Provost Marshal's Department of Washington, 22nd Army Corps, 1864-1865 (NARA Record Group 393) have been entered in the database. In addition, we have recorded information for bawdy houses that appeared in the National Republican, the Daily National Republican, the Evening Star, the Daily Morning Chronicle and the Daily National Intelligencer.


Churches have been entered in the database according to city directories (Boyd's Washington and Georgetown Directory) from the immediate pre-war and war years. As with other types of places, we have also gleaned information from Washington newspapers.


The main sources of information for fort records include, "Appendix C," The Civil War Defenses of Washington: Historic Resource Study, http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/civilwar/hrsa1-c.htm; J. G. Barnard, A Report on the Defenses of Washington to the Chief of Engineers U.S. Army (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1871); and Robert B. Roberts, Encyclopedia of Historic Forts (New York: Macmillan, 1988).


The major sources for data on the hospitals in the District of Columbia are manuscript Indexes to Field Records of Hospitals located in National Archives Manuscript Record Group 94. We used two parts of this collection: "List of General & Post Hospitals in Washington & Georgetown, D.C. giving location," and "Index to Alexandria, Va. and Vicinity." These lists were actively used by those searching for information about the existence of field records until at least the 1890s, as various inserted notes and comments attest. Given their importance to managing information about the sick and wounded during and after the war, we are very confident that every hospital that served Union troops and prisoners of war in the District was indexed, and so are equally confident that the basic hospital data in our database are as complete as possible.

The index entries typically note the dates a hospital opened and closed, location, and associated records. In addition, as names and locations changed, the indexes note continuities and relationships among the institutions. Occasionally the dates given are vague, referring simply to a year, but most often they are more precise, with month and year, or day, month and year provided. The associated records include muster rolls, rolls of the sick and wounded, admissions registers, weekly reports, daily reports, operations performed, deaths, baggage notes, and other miscellaneous documents; none of the possible records are consistent from hospital to hospital. We have not transcribed the record lists in the database entries.

In addition to the Indexes, we have included information culled from articles that appeared in the National Republican, the Daily National Republican, the Evening Star, the Daily Morning Chronicle and the Daily National Intelligencer. We can make no claim to have included every reference to every District hospital that appeared in newspapers in the database. We have also added references to the hospitals found in major memoirs and other texts with, again, no claim to completeness.

For more information on the hospitals, see "Organization of the Hospitals in the Department of Washington."


Entries for theaters have been informed by Maxwell Bloomfield, "Wartime Drama: The Theater in Washington (1861-1865)," Maryland Historical Magazine 64 (1969): 396-411; Andrew Morrison, Theatre Guide of Washington, D.C. (Washington, DC: The Theatre Historical Society, 1972); newspaper articles; and city directories (Boyd's Washington and Georgetown Directory).


To date, we have added a smaller number of other types of places, including museums, government buildings, and cemeteries. Documentation for these places exists in a variety of primary and secondary materials. See the "Sources" section of a record for more information on those materials we have consulted.


At present, battles are the only type of event recorded in the database. We expect to represent a much broader range of events as the project develops. Battles recorded in the database appear in Washington-area hospital cases from The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion. Dates of battles have been verified primarily according to The American Civil War Research Database [database online], Alexander Street Press.


Military regiments comprise the majority of organizations currently included in the database. Future additions to the organizations section of the database may include fraternal, religious, and charitable organizations, among others. As with events, organizations now recorded in the database appear in Washington-area hospital cases from The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion. Organization information has been verified primarily according to The American Civil War Research Database [database online], Alexander Street Press.


This section of the database includes textual and visual works created in or depicting aspects of war-time life in the District. We anticipate that the number of document records will grow considerably over time, as with other parts of the database. Currently, most records in the documents section represent issues of hospital newspapers (the Armory Square Hospital Gazette, the Cripple, and the Soldiers' Journal). Other items currently included in the documents section include visual depictions of Civil War hospitals and hospital staff. In describing these documents, we have relied on digital images of the documents as well as on metadata supplied by libraries, archives, and museums.