Official Records of the Rebellion

Official Records of the Rebellion: Volume Eleven, Chapter 23, Part 1: Peninsular Campaign: Reports

The Document


14[Appendix N.]

Med. Director’s Office, Theological Seminary, Va., Mar. 19, 1862.

SIR: Having been assigned to the staff of General ---, as medical director of his corps d’armée, you will please observe the following instructions:

I have reason to believe great improvidence exists in relation to the accumulation, care, and expenditure of medicines and hospital stores. You will require the brigade surgeons or other senior surgeons in your corps to inspect personally the supplies of the several regiments or detachments under their supervision, and to certify to you that they have done so, and find the supplies already furnished to have been faithfully and economically used, and that any new supply required is really necessary before you approve a requisition.

After you have rigorously scrutinized these requisitions you will indorse your action upon them, and then forward them to this office. You will specially forbid any requisition to be sent to this office directly or through any other channel than yourself. None will be noticed orsupplied by me coming through any other channel. You will inspect frequently the several commands under your supervision, and see that their hospital departments are kept in order and always ready for any emergency. It will be a never-ending source of mortification if in the approaching conflict anything really necessary for the proper care of the wounded that the medical department has the power to supply should be found wanting. There is a disposition among inexperienced medical officers to accumulate superfluous drugs, and to transport them to the exclusion even of surgical appliances of infinitely more importance. It will be your duty to watch and guard carefully against this error. When your corps is ordered to move there will be, of course, some men unable to march. These must be left in the general hospitals. Upon the late march to Fairfax Court-House a large number of men were sent into the general hospitals. In a great many instances these men were selected without any judgment. Hundreds were received with no disease that should have excused them from duty. Your attention is called to this, that you may take vigorous measures to prevent such an abuse in future. The Surgeon-General of the Army has taken the general hospitals under his immediate care. You will therefore communicate with him in time as to the number in your corps it will be necessary to send to general hospital, and take his orders as to where to send them. You will send a duplicate of this estimate to this office.
Instructions for medical officers in battle have been prepared and issued from headquarters. You will endeavor to carry them into effect, and see that the officers concerned are instructed in the several duties therein assigned to them. The reports required to be made by medical directors of divisions to the medical director of the army will be made to you, and by you transmitted to me with as little delay as practicable. You will make a monthly return of the medical officers of your corps to me. You will see that the monthly reports of sick and wounded are promptly made out at the end of each month and handed to you, to be transmitted to me. You need not consolidate them, but send them all to me without delay. You will see that the weekly reports of the sick of the several regiments are regularly sent in and forwarded to me. The diseases prevailing must be stated in these reports. This information is absolutely necessary at these headquarters [198]. Certificates of disability, approved by the division boards whenever practicable, will also be forwarded to this office through you.

A medical purveyor has been appointed for this army, and will accompany it into the field. He will establish a depot as near the seat of operations as practicable. Sufficient supplies for this army have been ordered to that depot, and it is therefore unnecessary for regimental medical officers to send in daily trifling requisitions, that only encumber the files and embarrass the operations of the purveying department.
Inquiries are constantly made about ambulances. This department has given every attention to that subject, and if a reasonable supply of these carriages is not at the right place at the right time the responsibility for the failure does not rest with the medical director.

The medical officers of your corps you will require to transact their business with you, and through you with this office. When additional medical aid is required anywhere within the limits of your corps you will assign any medical officers, including the brigade surgeons, whose services can be commanded with the least inconvenience to that duty. Frequent communication, both personally and by letter, with this office is invited and enjoined. Your suggestions will always be received with pleasure and carefully considered. Every facility in my power will be afforded you in the performance of your duties and in sustaining your authority. I rely with confidence upon your zealousco-operation in making this the model army of the Republic, so far as depends upon its medical department.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Surgeon and Medical Director Army of the Potomac.


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How to cite this article

Official Records of the Rebellion: Volume Eleven, Chapter 23, Part 1: Peninsular Campaign: Reports, pp.197-198

web page Rickard, J (25 October 2006),

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