October I asked for 50 of Davies' plan, and on the 19th of November I recommended Kohlen's to the attention of General Van Vliet. I instituted some experiments with these, from which I was led to doubt whether they could entirely replace the two-wheeled ambulances. There was more motion than I expected when the litters were placed horizontally; in a sitting posture the wounded man could ride very comfortably. They have the advantage of being readily carried wherever a horse or mule can be led, and the disadvantage of affording no protection against the weather.
In a report upon the distribution of ambulances, dated January 7, 1862, I recommended that a suitable number of horses should be trained to carry these litters, and February 13 I repeated this suggestion. This was approved and ordered to be carried into effect, but for some reason it was not done.
I append my report of January 7 to show the policy pursued in relation to ambulances while we were in Washington and the reasons for it. This report was approved by yourself, and its suggestions directed to be observed. (See Appendix D.)
In estimating the number of ambulances required for the Army of the Potomac it was at once apparent that the army allowance was altogether in excess of what could be obtained or what could be managed, even if it were to be had. This allowance would have made a train of four-wheeled ambulances 5 miles in length, and of two-wheeled ambulances about 20, making a total train of 25 miles. To mention this shows how preposterous the thing would be. The schedule was never intended for an army of 100,000 men, but for a regiment or detachment, making a long march over the plains or in an Indian country. Still, great discontent was manifested by a number of officers, whose responsibilities were limited to a single regiment or brigade, that the whole number was not furnished. After a careful consideration of the matter I made a report on the subject, which will be found in the appendix marked E. Here I estimated for 250 four-wheeled. I hoped this number might be obtained. It was, however, never reached; and I was obliged afterwards to contrive the best I could to make the number actually furnished go as far as possible. The events on the Peninsula convinced me that my original estimate was the minimum that would have enabled us to get along without serious discomfort. The atrocious roads in that region destroyed a considerable portion of those we had, embarrassing the operations of my department very materially.
General Van Vliet having reported the number of ambulances of both sorts he had in depot and in the possession of the troops, after comparing the latter with the reports of my inspectors I found he could furnish only 12 of the four-wheeled and 22 of the two-wheeled to each division of the army, with a proportionate number to commands of less size. I accordingly submitted that plan of distribution to General Williams on the 5th of March, and in the same letter I repeated an estimate I had made on the 27th of February for 1 ordinary transportation wagon to each regiment, for the conveyance of medicines, stores, mess-chests, and hospital tents. The latter was ordered and very generally furnished. On the 10th of March, 1862, having received orders to move the ambulances to Fairfax Court-House, I called upon General Van Vliet to make the distribution according to my plan, and inclosed him a copy of my letter to General Williams as his guide. I moved with the headquarters to Fairfax Court-House the next day. When the army was assembled there the ambulances were not in position.
The army being ordered to fall back upon Alexandria, I hastened to.