Official Records of the Rebellion

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

The Document


[Appendix U1]


Medical Director’s Office, May 29, 1862.

GENERAL: I have the honor to report that I am convinced a very Large proportion of the number lost to our army from our camp at Yorktown to this point is due to the straggling that has been permitted, both in breaking up of encampments and on the line of march. Hundreds were collected in the woods and in houses and huts in our old position at Camp Winfield Scott who were not borne upon the surgeon’s reports. I sent out officers to search for these men, and of many who could not be collected in this way we heard by accident, and brought them in after days of privation had brought on actual disease. It would seem there could have been no roll call before the troops took up their line of march, so all along the line of march whoever pleased would drop out, lie by in the woods out of sight, and then for days would be straggling [207] to the rear in search of shelter. I believe they have all been gathered in. Certainly every effort has been made to effect this object. I have been officially informed that Casey’s division has lost some 3,500 men within the last two months from sickness and straggling combined.

I am further persuaded that a large number of men have found their way to the hospitals at the North in our transports who were perfectly well, at least when they arrived. Dr. Satterlee wrote me in a letter, received yesterday, that he had seen numbers of such in New York. When orders have been issued to send the sick to the general hospitals in transports, owing to the general neglect to send descriptive lists with the men there have been no means of ascertaining whether those who found their way on board were authorized to do so or not. I would suggest, then, that the most stringent orders should be issued that no man shall be sent to a hospital at the rear, whether on shore or afloat, without his descriptive list and a report from the surgeon of his regiment to accompany him; these reports and descriptive lists to be handed to the medical director of the corps or the senior medical officer of the independent command before the men are permitted to leave their regimental hospitals. When these lists are presented, the medical director of the corps or other senior medical officer to inquire of the medical director of the army by telegraph where these men shall be sent, and shall inform him exactly how many there are. No man to be sent to general hospital who is beyond all hope of recovery. Where the point to which the men are to be sent is indicated, the quartermaster of the corps to make provision for their transportation to the railway and for cars to convey them to the transports or general hospital at White House.

I have also to suggest the propriety of taking some measures to have the well men of this army now in the Northern hospitals sent back to their regiments. I feel confident that more than 1,000 men perfectly fit to join their regiments are now idle in the general hospitals. I have given orders to this effect at Yorktown and White House, and have no doubt they are obeyed in these hospitals.

I would further recommend the prohibition of huckstering at White house and Yorktown, as well as near any of our camps. Much mischief is done by the sale of improper articles of food to the men. Milk, corn bread, fresh vegetables, and eggs are unexceptionable, but all other articles should be forbidden. It would be well to limit the sale of the proper articles to some particular locality at White House and Yorktown, so that it could be readily and frequently inspected by some officer, to insure the exclusion of all forbidden articles.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Surgeon and Medical Director Army of the Potomac.

Brig. Gen. S. WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant- General.

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How to cite this article

Official Records of the Rebellion: Volume Eleven, Chapter 23, Part 1: Peninsular Campaign: Reports, pp.206-207

web page Rickard, J (25 October 2006),

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