War of the Rebellion: Serial 005 Page 0085 Chapter XIV. GENERAL REPORTS.

Search Civil War Official Records

asked for and obtained another order, in December, 1861, requiring the division and brigade commanders to cause the brigade surgeons to reinspect all the men, vaccinating such as were still unprotected, and to report the results to me. At this late period most of the brigades were found to have some men unprotected; in a few the number was serious. In Slocum's brigade there were 1,500, in Blenker's 1,250, and in Sickles' 750. Crusts were furnished and the vaccination completed. As the result, small-pox, though rife in the community, never gained any foot-hold in the army. A sporadic case would occasionally occur, sometimes in the most unaccountable way. There are individuals so susceptible, that neither vaccination nor a former attack of small-pox secures them against the disease. An alarming report of the dangers to which the army was exposed from the system adopted at the hospital, having been made by the Sanitary Commission, with suggestions of some few modifications to suit their views, I inquired into the statistics of the disease in our army up to that time, and found that in seven months we had had but 168 cases, the majority of whom were ill with the disease when they reached Washington. I adopted such of the suggestions of the Commission as were not already in use, but with no perceptible effect. In fact, the precautions always adopted had made the cases, considered in reference to the size of the army, too insignificant to give the least in reference to the size of the army, too insignificant to give the least uneasiness to any one at all informed on the subject.

I had always been solicitous to get possession of a few experienced regular medical officers, to be employed as inspectors of the field hospitals, through whom I might be assured that the measures devised for the preservation of the health of the men were faithfully and intelligently carried out. This was accomplished at last. In the middle of November, 1861, two officers were assigned to me for that purpose and some weeks afterwards a third. I prepared instructions for them and set them at work at once. (See Appendix C.) These inspections extended from Budd's Ferry to Cumberland. They included Lander's division at Cumberland and Burnside's expedition fitting out at Annapolis. From the reports made by these officers I was enabled to correct many errors in hygiene, as well as to improve the discipline of my department and to keep it always in readiness for an advance. All faults in police, cooking, clothing, location of camps, & c., were promptly reported by me to the Adjutant-General, and by him as promptly ordered to be corrected.

I come now to speak of the regimental and brigade hospitals. The Regulations of the Army recognized only regimental and general hospitals. The regimental hospitals in the field were established in tents or in such buildings as might chance to be within the limits or in the immediate vicinity of each camp. The general hospitals available for the Army of the Potomac were the few old hotels or other similar buildings occupied as hospitals in the cities of Alexandria, Washington, Georgetown, and a small portion of the Naval Academy building at Annapolis. There was no authority for any hospital establishments in the vicinity of the divisions or brigades that might relieve the hospital tents if crowded or that might keep the men near their camps, so that they could be readily returned to duty when sufficiently recovered. It is true I might have authorized such establishments, but I was dependent upon the provisions of the regulations for the necessary stewards, cooks, and nurses for the service. Several intelligent and zealous brigade surgeons pressed these hospitals upon my attention. Their advantages were obvious, and I determined, when I could get the buildings, to put them in operation. I required, however, that the necessary personnel.