Base Hospital at Camp Pike in Photographs
In World War I, Camp Pike National Army Cantonment, Little Rock, Arkansas was a base hospital treating wounded and ill soldiers. Below are several undated, circa 1918 that take you back in time, concentrating on the Medical Corps and personnel who assisted the soldiers of World War I get healthy again. All Photographs by EWING, Inc. Camp Pike Official Photographers.
The base hospital at Camp Pike has had a small overseas surgical sendee, and an orthopedic section. Captain Charles H. Sanford became orthopedic surgeon, transferred here from Camp Gordon, and was afterwards made Chief of the surgical service, being replaced by Captain W. 8. Roberts.
Recently Fred H. Hodgson has been transferred to this part because of his wide overseas experience in the treatment of bone and Joint conditions. On April 1st there were 250 overseas patients in this hospital, and the following medical officers were assigned to the orthopedic service:
- Lt E. D. King
- Capt. Chas. H. Sanford
- Capt. W. S. Roberts
- Major Fred Hodgson
- Lt. J. W. Gordon
- Lt. Henry R. Leibinger
- Capt. Homer Sylvester
Photo 01: Nurses Quarters with Club House for Nurses. Base Hospital, Camp Pike, Arkansas. Photo # 1 Undated Circa 1918. GGA Image ID # 113968787e
Photo 02: Nurse Recreations and Relaxation. Base Hospital, Camp Pike Arkansas. Photo #2 Undated Circa 1918. GGA Image ID # 1139eede28
Photo 03: View of Nurses Club during Recreation Hour. Base Hospital, Camp Pike Arkansas. Photo #3 Undated Circa 1918. GGA Image ID # 113a140c50
Photo 04: Modern Sterilizing Room at the Surgical Department. Base Hospital, Camp Pike Arkansas. Photo #4 Undated Circa 1918. GGA Image ID # 113ad7a98f
Photo 05: Bright and Attractive Medical Ward. Base Hospital, Camp Pike Arkansas. Photo #5 Undated Circa 1918. GGA Image IsD # 113b309279
Photo 06: View of Splendidly Equipped Orthopedic Department. Base Hospital, Camp Pike Arkansas. Photo #6 Undated Circa 1918. GGA Image ID # 113b4e9266
Photo 07: Modern Dental Department. Base Hospital, Camp Pike Arkansas. Photo #7 Undated Circa 1918. GGA Image ID # 113b8c2bbe
Photo 08: Class in Aero Mechanics. Base Hospital, Camp Pike Arkansas. Photo #8 Undated Circa 1918. GGA Image ID # 113b9f189f
Photo 09: Class in Basketry and Toy Making. Base Hospital, Camp Pike Arkansas. Photo #10 Undated Circa 1918. GGA Image ID # 113bc49e3e
Photo 10: Typewriting Class - Commercial Department. Base Hospital, Camp Pike Arkansas. Photo #10 Undated Circa 1918. GGA Image ID # 113c13a399
Photo 11: One of the Modern Operating Rooms. Base Hospital, Camp Pike Arkansas. Photo #11 Undated Circa 1918. GGA Image ID # 113c8a15ea
Photo 12: A Small Part of the Main Kitchen. Base Hospital, Camp Pike Arkansas. Photo #12 Undated Circa 1918. GGA Image ID # 113c91de0e
Photo 13: Main Record Office. Base Hospital, Camp Pike Arkansas. Photo #13 Undated Circa 1918. GGA Image ID # 113c973f25
Photo 14: A Cozy Corner of the Convalescent House. Base Hospital, Camp Pike Arkansas. Photo #14 Undated Circa 1918. GGA Image ID # 113cd74bc4
Photo 15: Operating Room. Base Hospital, Camp Pike Arkansas. Photo #15 Undated Circa 1918. GGA Image ID # 113cd980cd
Photo 16: The Home of Good Bread. Base Hospital, Camp Pike Arkansas. Photo #9 Undated Circa 1918. GGA Image ID # 113cfef34e
Photo 17: Graduated Exercises for Cardio-Vascular Classes. Base Hospital, Camp Pike Arkansas. Photo Undated Circa 1918. GGA Image ID # 113d3a048e
Base Hospital, Camp Pike, Arkansas
The base hospital at Camp Pike was located at the northern end of the cantonment 8.79 miles from the city of Little Rock, Ark. The terrain of the region possesses a rolling wooded surface with sandy loam soil. During the dry season, there is much high-flying dust; and after rain, a mud of sticky consistency is present.
The spring and fall months are delightful in character, the days being clear and brilliant, with moderate breezes. The summer months, especially August and September, are very hot and dry, the thermometer in the sun frequently registering as high as 110° F. Room temperature during this season averages between 80° and 90°.
The winter months are, for the most part, clear and moderately cold, with frequent cold rains and mist and rarely snow. During the spring and early summer months, there are electrical storms of high severity.
The roads about the base hospital were of sand and gravel, with an oil binder; and though the hospital site was much exposed to wind, being the highest point in camp, there was little dust because of the improved condition of the roads and drill fields, the latter having been oiled. The wooded surroundings also helped in preventing what dust there was from reaching the hospital buildings.
The sanitary condition of the hospital neighborhood was good. It was improved by a system of drainage which handled the sudden and heavy rainfall adequately. The base hospital was organized on September 27, 1917. Until that time, from about August 11, 1917, Regimental Infirmary No. 1 was used for base hospital purposes.
During the construction period, employees of the contractors who were sick or injured were treated in the same building. A few accident cases were sent to the hospital at Fort Logan H. Roots. The first occupation and opening of the hospital may be dated on September 27, 1917.
The plan and the distribution of the hospital buildings followed the standard policy of the War Department. Officers' quarters originally consisted of three buildings. These proved inadequate and necessitated the assignment of officers to various parts of the hospital for sleeping quarters, at times.
Later, by the addition of wings, the officers' quarters were made entirely adequate. Initially, the nurses were assigned two buildings, and for a while, it was necessary to furnish them with a ward, for use as a dormitory. Four additional buildings were constructed for nurses' quarters, which, with the original buildings, furnished adequate housing facilities for the nurses.
There never was adequate dormitory space for the detachment, Medical Department, in spite of the additional construction of two barracks. The situation was enhanced by the use of two vacant two-story wards, but as the hospital population grew these wards had to be given up, and tents were utilized. Upon the opening of the hospital, officers, nurses, and the enlisted personnel were all messed in the general mess.
No provisions had been made for a mess hall for officers until the erection of a separate wing on one of the sets of officers' quarters had been affected. Later, a new mess hall was authorized in connection with the additional quarters constructed.
The new mess hall had a capacity for seating at least 150. For a while, the nurses' mess was operated in the first nurses' quarters to be constructed. The mess hall was tiny, and the cafeteria plan of feeding had to be adopted to prevent having three or four sittings.
A new mess hall was about to be constructed when the armistice was signed, which placed a halt on all construction work. As with the officers and the nurses, the mess hall for the patients proved inadequate in size. The general kitchen and the diet kitchen were enlarged and remodeled, and the general mess hall was considerably enlarged.
The equipment for the general mess was made more modern, and many additions were made to it. After that, no difficulty was experienced in its operation. The mess for the officer patients, located in the officers' ward, satisfactorily answered all purposes.
The mess for the detachment, Medical Department, was situated in one of the groups of barrack buildings provided for the enlisted personnel. At first, entirely inadequate, it was made satisfactory by the enlargement of the kitchen, and the conversion of an adjoining barracks into a mess hall.
There were four storehouses, two with shelves and two without, in the medical supply depot. They were steam-heated, electrically lighted, and protected by heavy iron-wire mesh over windows. The supply officer had his office in building No. 1.
It was necessary to turn over one of these buildings to the quartermaster of the base hospital for his supplies. The remaining three buildings constituted the medical supply depot for Camp Pike, and in them were stored all medical, dental, and veterinary supplies for the camp and for the base hospital.
The steam railroad from Little Rock to the base hospital ran by these storehouses and was convenient for loading and unloading supplies. A laundry building was erected, but it was not equipped. It was used principally for the disinfection of clothing, bedding, etc., utilizing a steam sterilizer.
The laundry of the hospital was done in Little Rock. The chapel was opened the latter part of November. It was put in use at once for religious services. It was also used in the evenings for the instruction of officers and noncommissioned officers, and to some extent for the education of nurses.
The hospital water supply was the same as that used in the city of Little Rock, Ark., and in the cantonment. The water was pumped from the Arkansas River and was chlorinated. A water-carriage system for the removal of the sewage was in use in connection with the general scheme of the cantonment.
The sewage from the whole cantonment was treated in a septic tank. The various lavatories, toilets, showers, and sinks were connected with a vitrified clay pipe sewer forming part of the overall system. It was necessary at times to use latrines, which were systematically filled in and abandoned as soon as their use could be discontinued.
A small amount of hospital garbage and waste was incinerated. Kitchen garbage was removed by the contractor for the cantonment. Manure from the hospital farm was carted away. Initially, the hospital was heated by a central low-pressure steam plant.
During the first winter the heat radiation was very unsatisfactory; the boiler capacity was none too large; scale and other substances choked the disk or seat, causing the return pipes and even the radiators to fill with water of condensation, at times giving rise during the coldest weather to freezing of the contents and a consequent bursting of the equipment.
These defects were remedied by the provision of more boiler space and a high-pressure system. The steam and hot-water pipes were carried above ground on A-frames of wood, and all the pipes were insulated.
The hospital was lighted by an electric current furnished by the Little Rock Railway & Electric Co., of Little Rock, a 13,000-volt line running to the substation at the corner of Twelfth and South Boulevard in the cantonment, and thence a 2,300-volt line to the base hospital, a 110 to 220 volt distribution being made to the hospital buildings.
The equipment of the hospital in the early days of its organization was that of a unit of 500 beds complete. This equipment steadily increased in nearly every particular and ultimately became adequate for the official bed capacity of 2,220 beds.
The post exchange was established on September 20, 1917, supplies being obtained on credit. The exchange was at first a branch of the division exchange. Afterward, for some months, it led an independent existence.
About January 15, 1918, it again became a branch of the division exchange. From the start, the exchange had a prosperous existence. The surplus accumulated amounted to more than $28,973.75, and monthly sales eventually averaged $14,000.
The Young Men's Christian Association, popularly known as Base Hospital Y, continued in service throughout the existence of the hospital, except during the influenza epidemic, when it was closed and turned over to the base hospital authorities for use as barracks for additional enlisted men.
The Y secretaries performed many duties in addition to that of furnishing amusement to the soldier. Among these duties were letter writing, educational work, and the supervision of athletic contests.
During the influenza epidemic, the staff volunteered their services to the commanding officer of the hospital, and they were of great help in meeting relatives of sick soldiers, acting as guides, performing religious services for the dying or those seriously ill, and in locating chaplains of any faith as requested by the individual soldier.
Three Red Cross buildings were eventually in active use. The first one constructed was situated near the railroad tracks at the base hospital and was called the rest cottage. It was designed to serve the relatives and friends of sick soldiers and functioned admirably in this respect.
The second building, known as the "convalescent house," served the convalescent soldiers. It furnished reading material, the base hospital library being situated there, and also housed various entertainments for the soldiers in the hospital. The third was a clubhouse for nurses, furnishing a social center for them.
Programs arranged by the Red Cross and the Young Men's Christian Association furnished almost nightly entertainment for all. The enlisted personnel of the base hospital-maintained baseball and football teams and a field was supplied for their use. There was a tennis court for officers, which was very popular.
Lt. Col. Frank W. Weed, M.C., US Army, "Base Hospital, Camp Pike, Arkansas," In The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War, Vol. 5: Military Hospitals in the United States, Washington: Government Printing Office, 1923. p. 732-735.
The statements of fact appearing herein are based on the "History, Base Hospital, Camp Pike, Ark." by Col. L. A. Fuller, M.C., U.S.A., while on duty as a member of the staff of that hospital. The material used by him in the compilation of the history comprised official reports from the various divisions of the hospital. The history is on file in the Historical Division, Surgeon General's Office, Washington, DC. -- Ed.