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A Humble Petition from 1864

Greeting from 1864 Petition to Jefferson Davis from the Citizens of Cripple Creek, VA

Working on the History of Medicine (HOM) Trent Manuscripts Grant Project has revealed quite a few items of interest—but most recently, I discovered something that fits rather well into the Memories of the Civil War exhibit currently on display in the Perkins Exhibit Gallery.

Signatures to the 1864 Petition from the Citizens of Cripple Creek.
Signatures to the 1864 Petition from the Citizens of Cripple Creek. From the Trent Manuscripts Collection.

You may have seen the grisly amputation kit from the HOM collection, which might be the kind of war-related artifact that you would expect out of a collection on the history of medicine.  But here, instead, is not an example of progressive advances in medicine, nor a relic of past practice: instead, a simple plea for a family doctor to remain in service to his community by being excused for service in the Confederate Army:

“We the undersigned Citizens of Cripple Creek, Wythe County, VA earnestly petition that our family physician, Dr. C. C. Campbell, who is a conscript under the late act of Congress and whose services are indispensable to this portion of the county, be exempt, or detailed, and left with us.”

This singular petition to the President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, dated February 15, 1864, was accompanied by two pages of signatures by the residents of Cripple Creek.  Did it ever reach its destination?  Do any historians or local residents know the fate of Dr. C. C. Campbell and his patients in Cripple Creek, Virginia?  If so, we’d love to hear from you!

Jacqueline Chapman, a graduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science, was History of Medicine Intern at the Rubenstein Library from September 2011 to January 2012.

3 thoughts on “A Humble Petition from 1864”

  1. Great article, Jacqueline.

    Shows the tremendous relationship between the humble doctor and their local community of Cripple Creek, back in the day. Was wonderful to read the plea which almost takes in back in time when reading the original handwriting.

  2. I am a descendant of Christopher Columbus Campbell of Speedwell on Cripple Creek near Wytheville,Va. My grandmother Lula C. Long Gemmell provided a brief note concerning her grandfather the afore-mentioned C. C. Campbell in the book Sander’s Saga by McConnell( C.C.’s wife was a Sanders). In xome of my g-mother’s papers, I found reference to the fact that he served from his enlistment in Sept.,!864 until after Lee’s Surrender and was mustered out in Wytheville, Va with Gen. Walker’s men. So, I suspect that Jefferson Davis either never received the petition or failed to act on it. I do know that after his return from the War, he continued to serve the people of the Speedwell Community on Cripple Creek for many years. In two seperate references in my grandmother’s papers, he served either in the 4th Georgia Engineers or 4th Virginia, I have been unable to confirm this either way. He had at least two sons who also followed his profession. I hope that this is helpful to you and would appreciate any additional information you might have concerning my gg-grandfather.
    David E. Gemmell

    1. Thanks so much for reading, David! I’m going to pass your comment here to my colleagues in the Rubenstein Library’s Research Services department. A reference librarian will be in touch with you shortly about any resources we might have related to your family, and how you might be able to access them!

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