War of the Rebellion: Serial 005 Page 0089 Chapter XIV. GENERAL REPORTS.

Search Civil War Official Records

Washington, and had an interview with General Van Vliet this subject. He informed me he had ordered 36 four-wheeled ambulances from Perryville to Fort Monroe, and that he would send on 86 more from Washington. That would have given us 177 for the whole army, including McDowell's corps and Blenker's division. This was too few, but it was the best that could be done with the number reported on hand. Colonel Ingalls being under the impression that there was still a large number at Perryville, I telegraphed to Washington to have 50 more added to our allotment, but I did not get them. In fact, the last of the original 86 did not reach us till the 1st of May; 12 were received April 9, 16 April 15, and 58 May 1.

In the mean time the divisions of Stone at Poolesville, Banks at Sandy Hook, Lockwood on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and Lander at Cumberland, had been furnished with as many carriages of each sort as we could spare and they were likely to need. Stone had 59 two-wheeled, 7 four-wheeled, and 67 transports carts. They proved amply sufficient to remove his wounded after the action at Ball's Bluff with the greatest speed and safety to his hospitals. This affair was misrepresented by some volunteer philanthropist to the Sanitary Commission. My report from Brigade Surgeon Crosby, who conducted the hospital administration on that occasion - an officer who has no superiors in the corps to which he belongs - shows that his carriages were promptly as near the field as they could be brought. He could not very well cross either the canal or the Potomac River with his train.

The most feasible plan for organizing a force to act as an ambulance corps engaged my attention at an early period. Several propositions were made by foreigners to raise and command such a corps. They were mere repetitions of the Continental systems, and however serviceable they might have promised to be, they could not under the then existing laws have been raised for our army. The only plan that appeared to be within my reach was that adopted and established by the sixth paragraph of Orders Numbers 20. The regulations of the army authorized a detail of 10 men from each regiment for hospital attendants. The bands of regiments had long been used for the purpose I wanted them for in time of action in our service, and I could by the plans indicated expect to command about 25 men to a regiment to serve as ambulance attendants when wanted. They required, however, to be instructed in that duty, and with that view they were ordered to be drilled regularly every day by the medical officers under the superintendence of the brigade surgeons. Whenever this order was obeyed, the progress of the men in the drill was quite satisfactory. It was at least a beginning of an ambulance corps. Perhaps a distinct ambulance corps may yet be made a part of our military establishment. I am satisfied it would contribute essentially to the efficiency of the hospital department. The surgeon-general of Pennsylvania, under date of September 19, 1861, requested authority to organize such a corps at Camp Curtin for the troops of his State. I indorsed his proposal favorably and referred it to the Secretary of War, but no action was taken upon it. An elaborate project for an ambulance corps was submitted to the Surgeon-General by a Mr. Pfersching,, and by him referred to me for examination in March, 1862. Upon this plan I made the report marked F in the appendix.

GENERAL HOSPITALS.

When I took charge of the Army of the Potomac I supposed that the general hospitals within the limits of that army were under my control,.