Surgeon-General, had been placed in a semi-official position by the Secretary of War, and had been active in soliciting and obtaining many comforts for the inmates of our military hospitals, which they were engaged in distributing very liberally wherever an opportunity offered. While the army was encamped at Washington I had no control over these issues. By urgent appeals to the patriotism of the people their store-houses were kept well filled. So long as we remained at Washington there could be no difficulty about transportation, and there was but little ground for apprehension that the supply would fail. When we moved to the Peninsula the case was altered. Holding the relation that body did to the public and to the army, we had a right to look to them for such supplies as our wounded might need, and which could be obtained from no other source. Moreover, I knew that every pound of transportation was no object in the field. I determined, therefore, to economize their resources, that they should not be unnecessarily squandered in the camps, but should be kept in reserve, when they could be commanded in any emergency, such as a battle or the fitting up a hospital or a hospital ship. I considered further that it was not honest to solicit these contributions from the public upon the plea of urgent necessity, and then wasting where there was no necessity. The rich gave money. It was not proposed to distribute that, and it could not have been used upon the Peninsula if it had been. The poor gave the labor of their hands in making up articles of clothing and the like for the sick and wounded. They had a right to be assured that their contributions should be carefully and judiciously used. I had reason to believe that in many instances they had not been so used, and I desired to arrest this abuse if it really did exist, as well as to prevent it if attempted.
At the earnest solicitation of Mr. Olmstead I was afterwards induced to withdraw this stipulation, he assuring me that the contributions of the public were so large that they could not find store-room for them unless they were allowed to dispense them ad libitum, and that he would pledge himself to have at my command 15,000 sets of clothing and dressings at any time a battle should come off. At that time I was expecting about 6,000 casualties at Yorktown.
April 1 the headquarters left Alexandria and arrived at Fort Monroe on the 2nd at 6 p.m. The next day I had an interview with Dr. Cuyler, and arranged with him for the reception of 1,000 wounded in the hospitals under his charge. I had been in hopes of getting more room, but was convinced it could not be safely relied upon. On the 4th we marched to Great Bethel, and on the 5th, through a heavy rain, to a cluster of huts some 5 miles from Yorktown. On the 6th I visited Heintzelman's position in front of Yorktown, inspected his hospital department, and found that his medical director, Milhau, had made excellent arrangements for his field hospitals in case of a battle. Some of the depots, however, proved afterwards to be within range of the enemy's guns, and we were obliged to abandon them.
On the 7th I went to Ship Point and inspected the rebel huts there. We had then three large clusters of huts, most of them nearly new and in good condition-one at Ship Point, one about 4 miles from there on the road to Yorktown, and the third at our own camp, near the road to Fort Monroe. These, with a few small dilapidated meeting-houses and private dwellings, scattered from Young's Mill to Cheeseman's Creek, were afterwards used as hospitals. The accommodations afforded by these buildings, it was evident, would not be adequate to our wants, even with the 1,000 provided for at Fort