Official Records of the Rebellion

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

The Document

17[Appendix R.]

Medical Director’s Office. White House, May 18, 1862.

It is absolutely necessary that not less than thirty contract physicians should be sent to this army at once, to fill the places of medical officers sick and on detached service. The supplies that left Washington on the 11th have not yet reached here. We are nearly exhausted. I suggest that medical supplies be sent in charge of a special agent, to be delivered to the purveyor to whom they are directed. Medical supplies have been found stored under other supplies in the hold of vessels, and detained there for weeks in this river.

We must have four-wheeled ambulances; two-wheeled are good for nothing. I asked for 140 four-wheeled some time ago. A lot of two— wheeled have been received since, but are altogether insufficient. [200] We want steamer hospitals, properly fitted up for 5,000, provided with physicians, nurses, and stores.

Medical Director.

To the SURGEON-GENERAL, Washington, D. C.

Medical Director’s Office, White House, May 19, 1862.

Sin : I had the honor to address you on the 9th instant in relation to the necessities of this army. In that letter I stated that unless certain supplies for which I had telegraphed that day reached me infive days this army would be in peril. It is now ten days, and they are not here. I hear there are supplies at Fort Monroe directed to Yorktown, and have telegraphed Dr. Cuyler to send them up here immediately. The army is marching to day, and a battle may occur at any time. We are not prepared for it.

I telegraphed you yesterday that we wanted steamers properly fitted up for 5,000 men, provided with physicians, nurses, and stores. This is an absolute and instant necessity. The Sanitary Commission is doing what it can to relieve us of our sick, but they cannot do it with sufficient rapidity. We have 2,000 sick at Yorktown and vicinity, 600 at Williamsburg, and I have a prospect of having 1,000 more thrown on my hands from the advancing army to-day. For the accommodation of these men I have 100 hospital tents ordered, but with two days’ work I have been able to get but 34pitched. I have no physicians to detail for the work. The men from the ranks will not do the duty of nurses. My stores are almost exhausted. If a battle take place within a few days I have no place to put the wounded. I must have relief, and that at once. I can no longer stagger under such an accumulation of difficulties.

Seven medical gentlemen from Boston and New York joined me yesterday to offer their services for the expected battle. I have gladly accepted their offer. The first duty I have imposed upon them is to assist in prescribing for the sick now pressing in upon me. One of them I have been obliged to ask to go to the First United States Cavalry to replace Assistant Surgeon Quinan, who reports sick. I have but one assistant surgeon for each regiment of regular cavalry, and less than that for each regiment of regular infantry. When one of them falls sick I have no one to replace him.
The ambulances I asked for are not here. The march from Williamsburg to this point has destroyed a large proportion of those we had. The two- wheeled ambulances forwarded from Washington are insufficient if they were even endurable for the wounded.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Surgeon and Medical Director Army of the Potomac.

Brig. Gen. W. A. HAMMOND,
Surgeon-General U. S. Army.

Medical Director’s Office, White House, May 20, 1862.

Telegram received. We are this moment receiving the cooking utensils and furniture and the liquors sent by Dr. Laub. On the invoice with the latter are 100 ounces of quinine. I do not know how much of this has been ordered. A requisition for 2,000 ounces was [201] forwarded last week. I did not see Dr. Asche. He did not report to me. I heard he was at Yorktown some time since with supplies for the Sanitary Commission. Dr. Alexander offered to receipt to him for all he had, and he refused.

The organization of the hospitals at Yorktown is progressing favorably under Assistant Surgeon Greenleaf, but we want one large hospital here. I have 100 hospital tents pitched and occupied. I am sending away 200 of these patients by the Daniel Webster to-day. We ought to have 500 hospital tents here, and I wish the 400 more to be sent. The details for pitching the tents are so slow that it took 150 men two days to pitch the 100.

General McClellan has ordered all the transports at command for carrying the sick and wounded, but many of them were unfit. Only two were fitted up, and I had not the means to fit more. I cannot afford the necessary details of medical officers for sick transports. Nurses, and particularly cooks, are not to be had. The bedding now on hand here is 2,524 blankets, 23 bed-sacks, and 24 pillow-ticks. I have this moment seen a bill of lading of 18 bales of blankets on board a transport in the river.

The Elm City will be stationed here as a receiving ship for surgical cases, and will receive 400. Another that will take 200 will be ready at the end of the week.

The 50 two-wheeled ambulances have arrived, but I am compelled to keep them for the sick, as the four-wheeled ambulances are not sufficient.

It must be borne in mind that this army is in motion, and my province and hospitals extend from Yorktown to Williamsburg, thence to Cumberland and White House, and now our advance is 12 miles from the latter. I have to contrive for all this extent of country, and I have the aid of only one officer of experience on my staff.

Medical Director.

Surg. Gen. W. A. HAMMOND, Washington, D. C.

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How to cite this article

Official Records of the Rebellion: Volume Eleven, Chapter 23, Part 1: Peninsular Campaign: Reports, pp.199-201

web page Rickard, J (25 October 2006),

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