War of the Rebellion: Serial 005 Page 0637 Chapter XIV. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. - UNION.

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one and disregard the other. In the mode and substance of their correspondence they have practiced both.

My order requiring all ambulances except one to a regiment to be placed in depot has been before you. The reasons for its issuance I have stated in the presence of both of those officers, and I will now state them again.

During the march from Good Hope I found them overloaded with lazy soldiers, officers, and women's trunks and knapsacks to such an extent as to lead me to fear that if they reached camp at all, it would be with crippled horses and broken-down ambulances, and in consequence I repeatedly ordered the men out of them, some of whom would heed me and others would not. With such an undisciplined crowd, with no assistance from a single officer of the command, I abandoned my purpose and passed on to camp. When the troops reached their destination I directed the ambulances to be put in depot, with instructions to Surgeon Bell to receive them and to report to me their condition, which is herewith respectfully inclosed. The First Brigade had but one ambulance to a regiment to accompany them, and those they retain.

When you reflect that the Second Brigade had but 28 miles to march, you will be able to form a just appreciation of the perils to which the ambulance train was exposed. Had the march been double that distance, I question if I should have had one serviceable ambulance among them remaining.

Among new troops, as you doubtless know, there is a feeling of destructiveness towards everything belonging to the Government, and I must say that I never saw it more fully expressed than during my late march. This is one of the outrages committed by some portions of my command, as you will be informed in due time. In some regiments there appears to be a total absence of anything like authority. The officers are on the same footing with the men, and I have yet to receive the first report from any officer of the outrages and depredations committed by their men.

For these reasons I have felt it to be my duty as well as interest to protect and preserve the public property necessary to the wants of my command. I have placed the ambulance train where I can see it, and given directions for ambulances to be furnished when they are required for the sick, and for no other purpose. If they cannot be cared for on the march, they will not be in camp. On the slightest pretext a line of them will be established on the road between here and Washington, and that will be the end of them. If a regiment marches, of course they will be provided, for the most remote camp is not more than one and a half hours' drive from where they are collected. General Sickles calls this "field service"; so was his camp at Good Hope just as much. But I have no inclination to reply to any portion of his letter. I return it with a trace of the camp, and the general will be able to form his own opinion of its fairness or unfairness.

In my official intercourse with veteran politicians suddenly raised to high military rank, I have found it necessary to observe their correspondence with especial circumspection.

If with these facts before the major-general commanding it is his wish that the ambulances should be put in the hands of the Second Brigade, I request that you will inform me.

Very respectfully,

JOSEPH HOOKER,

Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.