War of the Rebellion: Serial 005 Page 0026 OPERATIONS IN MD., N. VA., AND W. VA. Chapter XIV.

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organizing and making effective the medical department were very great, arising principally from the inexperience of the regimental medical officers, many of whom were physicians taken suddenly from civil life, who, according to Surgeon Tripler, "had to be instructed in their duties from the very alphabet," and from the ignorance of the line officers as to their relations with the medical officers, which gave rise to confusion and conflict of authority. Boards of examination were instituted, by which many ignorant officers were removed, and by the successive exertions of Surgeons Tripler and Letterman the medical corps was brought to a very high degree of efficiency. With regard to the sanitary condition of the army while on the Potomac, Dr. Tripler says that the records show a constantly increasing immunity from disease..

"In October and November, 1861, with an army averaging 130,000 men, we had 7,932 cases of fever of all sorts. Of these about 1,000 were reported as cases of typhoid fever. I know that errors of diagnosis were frequently committed, and therefore this must be considered as the limit of typhoid cases. If any army in the world can show such a record as this, I do not know when or where it was assembled." From September, 1861, to February, 1862, while the army was increasing, the number of sick decreased from 7 per cent. to 6.18 per cent. Of these the men sick in the regimental and general hospitals were less than one-half; the remainder were slight cases, under treatment in quarters. "During this time, so far as rumor was concerned, the army was being decimated by disease every month." Of the sanitary condition of the army during the Peninsular campaign, up to its arrival at Harrison's Landing, Dr. Tripler says:

During this campaign the army was favored with excellent health. No epidemic disease appeared. Those scourges of modern armies-dysentery, typhus, cholera-were almost unknown. We had some typhoid fever and more malarial fevers, but even these never prevailed to such an extent as to create any alarm. The sick reports were sometimes larger than we cared to have them, but the great majority of the cases reported were such as did not threaten life or permanent disability. I regret that I have not before me the retained copies of the monthly reports, so that I might give accurate statistics. I have endeavored to recover them, but have been unsuccessful. My recollection is that the whole sick report never exceeded 8 per cent. of the force, and this including all sorts of cases, the trivial as well as the severe. The Army of the Potomac must be conceded to have been the most healthy army in the service of the United States.

His remarks at the conclusion of his report upon our system of medical administration and his suggestions for its improvement are especially worthy of attention.

The service, labors, and privations of the troops during the seven days' battles had of course a great effect on the health of the army after it reached Harrison's Landing, increasing the number of sick to about 20 per cent. of the whole force. The nature of the military operations had also unavoidably placed the medical department in a very unsatisfactory condition. Supplies had been almost entirely exhausted or necessarily abandoned, hospital tents abandoned or destroyed, and the medical officers deficient in numbers and broken down by fatigue. All the remarkable energy and ability of Surgeon Letterman were required to restore the efficiency of his department, but before we left Harrison's Landing he had succeeded in fitting it out thoroughly with the supplies it required, and the health of the army was vastly improved by the sanitary measures which were enforced at his suggestion.

The great haste with which the army was removed from the Peninsula made it necessary to leave at Fort Monroe, to be forwarded afterwards, nearly all the baggage and transportation, including medical stores and ambulances, all the vessels being required to transport the.