From William A. Carrington CSR (M331): Inspection report, dated 10/8/1862, for CSA steam laundry.
Richmond, Oct 8th 1862
Surgeon E. S. Gaillard, Medl Director,
I have the honour to report that I this morning inspected the Confederate States Steam Laundry - on Main near 24th Street. It is in a large brick building with 2 smaller buildings attached. One used for a kitchen & boiling water & clothes - the other for sleeping rooms for the attendants. There are 7 large rooms, two of these partly reserved by the owner M. Barnett - The rent is $2000 per annum - a most advantageous bargain, for the office furniture is kept and used - also many tables. 3 large furnaces & all the arrangements for drying tobacco which will answer for clothes as well. These will be used in the winter - at Present - the garrett rooms & roofs constructed for drying tobacco offer great advantages - The garretts are fitted with stoves which could be bought for less than their market value.
By the monthly report for Sept, 22 Hosls had their washing done here & 11 (including Chimborazo & Winder) did not - 23000+ pieces were washed & returned. The Superintendent claiming that all clothes marked intelligibly were returned & shows a return of 911 pieces not marked & unclaimed which he claims will more than account for those said to be lost. He gives a receipt for all clothes when he gets them & to avoid all mistakes in [the] future I have directed him to receive none not marked plainly hereafter & also recommend a guard to be kept as security against thieves & fire.
The force employed here consists of the Superintendent, his clerk, a female superintendent for the laundry & 36 laundresses - 28 others were engaged but left because they were not paid monthly.
A wagon is used to visit each hospital twice a week & in 2 days the clothes are returned washed, dried & ironed.
In addition to the pay ($15 per mo to each person engaged) one ration is issued - this the superintendent sells & paying $2 per week to each hand - uses the surplus for buying articles he needs about the laundry. - Some modification of this is required.
So much expense has been incurred that I am loath to recommend any discontinuance but rather advise that increased care be used to prevent mismanagement - that a full trial be given to this scheme - the expense from purchases, rations used, & pay rolls be compounded, compared with the amount of work done & with the results from other plans & then a decision made as to its continuance or discontinuance.
I would recommend that a wagon with a top be furnished to the laundry. Some arrangement be made with Crews, the manufacturer who supplies the government with soap to get all the grease, drippings &c from each Hosl to manufacture into soap for use of the laundry & also that some arrangement be made with the Q.M. to enable the employees to be paid off once monthly - This is necessary for their subsistence as with the class employed one month seems the utmost limit of their providence.
As a type for another system I will mention the Hosl No. 27 which has its washing done by arrangement with one laundress at her own residence (she furnishing soap) & this for 40 to 65 men - The allowance of laundresses for this no is 3 & when we calculate the saving of the expense of fitting a Hosl Laundry the difference is greater. She receives $12 per month & one ration.
I am Very Respectfully,
Your Obedient Servant,
Wm. A. Carrington
Surgeon & Inspector of Hospitals