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Benjamin Drummond, a 24-year-old Black sailor, was the first patient admitted to the Naval Hospital, Washington City (now known as the Old Naval Hospital) when it opened on October 1, 1866. Drummond's admitting ticket noted that he was suffering from a wound received during a battle off the coast of Texas when his ship was captured,

Drummond, stood 5'4" tall and in 1877 weighed 127 lbs. He was born about 1843 in Nasau, New York, and was employed as a mariner before enlisting in the Navy on November 4, 1861.

During his first enlistment Drummond served aboard three ships before being assigned to the USS Morning Light on March 20, 1862. The ship was assigned to blockade duty in the Gulf of Mexico off of Sabine Pass, near the border with Louisiana. At 6:30 AM on the morning of January 21, 1863, the Rebel's launched an attack with two cutters called "cotton clads" for the bales of cotton piled around the sides as makeshift armor.

Reports of the engagement showed that although the sail-powered Morning Light was heavily armed, she suffered a great disadvantage against the steam-powered cutters because there was almost no wind that morning. By 10 AM the Confederate vessels had closed to artillery range and managed to hit the Morning Light with a number of shells, doing considerable damage.

By 11 AM they were within small arms range, and a detachment of soldiers from the Texas Mounted Rifles aboard the cutters opened a withering fire. According to a Rebel reporter, Union sailors "fell from the masts like squirrels from a tree." Benjamin Drummond was one of those sailors. In later years he stated that he was in the masts when shot in the shoulder, and after falling to the deck was shot in both legs. The report of casualties prepared by the ships surgeon mentioned Drummond.

Another Confederate report of the engagement stated that 109 Union sailors were captured, and that "Among the latter are 29 Negroes, including one severely wounded." We know that he was referring to Benjamin Drummond because the Union report of casualties lists him as the only Black Union sailor who was severely wounded in the engagement. Most of the crew was imprisoned for at least 18 months, but Benjamin Drummond somehow managed to escape after just seven months.

On August 19, 1863, the logbook of the gunboat USS Katahdin recorded that "At 5 a boat containing seven Negroes escaped from Galveston came alongside." The logbook named Drummond as one of the former crewmembers of the "U.S.S. Morning Light, captured and burned some months since." That same day he was transferred to the USS Tennessee, which recorded his arrival in the logbook before sailing to New Orleans where he was admitted into the naval hospital.

Drummond reenlisted on December 6, 1864, and served on a number of ships, principally the USS Squando, a new monitor that was patrolling Charleston harbor, South Carolina. Duty aboard monitors was hard, especially in a hot climate. The Squando was powered by two coal-fired steam engines, and even if he was not shoveling coal, they were inside the metal hull, and this was an age before air conditioning.

Not surprisingly, his wound reopened and Drummond was set ashore and admitted as the first patient to what was then called the Naval Hospital, Washington City. His record of treatment paints a sympathetic portrait of a sailor who suffered as his wound refused to heal. On March 23, 1868, Drummond was discharged from the Navy and the Hospital because his term of enlistment had expired.

In a Report of Medical Survey on March 17, 1868, just before Drummond was discharged, he was awarded a fifty-percent disability for his combat wound. In 1872 it was recorded on an Examining Surgeon's Certificate that he was 38 years old, stood 5' 4" tall, and weighed 143 pounds. In that same year Drummond filed a Declaration for Invalid Pension and an application for a pension. After processing he was granted a pension of $4.00 a month.

It appears that as the years passed Drummond may have told a bolder tale of his part in the battle when the USS Morning Light was captured, because in 1873, in both a Declaration for Increase Pension and a Surgeon's Certificate from an examination in 1873 recorded that he was "Wounded in the right arm just below the shoulder joint..." In response, Thomas J. Turner, a medical inspector, wrote a letter to the Surgeon General stating, in part, that while the records relating to Drummond show that during the battle he was shot in the leg "No mention is made in any part of the record of a gun-shot wound of the right shoulder."

He was examined again in 1875 and in 1877. Additional information can be gleaned from Invalid Certificate 1719, which appears to track some of the events during the life of his pension. In 1879 he wrote a letter wrote a letter in his own hand requesting payment of money due under an act granting arrears of pensions approved by Congress on January 25, 1879. On June 5, 1879, payment of $210.13 was approved by a pension examiner.

On March 11, 1881, he died from Bights Disease, a failure of the kidney. Even with the extra money from his pension, life must have been difficult, for his death certificate notes that he was buried by charity.

In 1860 he had married a Laura Berkely in Richmond, Virginia, and following his death she applied for a widows pension of eight dollars a month, with an additional two dollars for their son, Benjamin W. Drummond, born May 14, 1876. Laura Drummond was illiterate, and paid an attorney ten dollars to process the paperwork. The entries in a form, Cert. No. 6854, show that the pension examiner required information about her marriage and child. Some of the actions taken in the processing of her benefits were recorded in a "Widow's Case" form.

In 1883 Andrew McNickle, her attorney, filed a Widow's Declaration for Pension or Increase of Pension. On August 20, 1895, she filed a Widows Application for Accrued Pension. On August 14, 1895, she filed an Application for Accrued Pension. Her pension was ended in 1901, presumably on her death.