U.S.S. Red Rover, as a hospital ship, may seem rather primitive compared to modern medical facilities, including modern hospital ships. Her story, however, is of significant consequence as it relates at least three military and medical advances: the use of African-American personnel in the military, the establishment of nursing with the Sisters of the Holy Cross being the forerunners of the Navy Nurse Corps, and the utilization of a maritime vessel for the first time as a hospital ship. This narrative relates, from official records and related sources, the dynamics that enabled this transformation to come to fruition. Well known is the fact that the development of ironclads during the War between the States was a major advance in modern warfare. Less well known, but equally significant, are the advances resulting from the utilization of Red Rover as our first hospital ship. This narrative tells that story in well-documented detail.