Monroe, in case of a severe action at Yorktown. The country, also, from Warwick Court-House to York River at our position was but a succession of swamps, that in warm weather would be too prolific of malarial poison to admit of our establishing military hospitals there. I therefore determined to arrange, if possible, with the department at Washington for the reception of all wounded in excess of the 1,000 at some of the hospitals North. Colonel Ingalls agreed promptly to transport my men from any point on York River to such hospitals as I might indicate. With this understanding I telegraphed and wrote to the Acting Surgeon-General on the 14th of April. [See appendix O.]
April 20 I received a reply from Dr. Wood, acceding to my proposal, and making certain suggestions as to sending certain classes of wounds to particular points. That seemed to me to be difficult of execution, if not impracticable. I had at that time made arrangements to keep a hospital steamer constantly at Cheeseman's Landing for the reception of wounded only. It was necessary that this hospital should receive all the wounded indiscriminately.
On the 13th six eminent surgeons, deputed by the Governor of Massachusetts by authority of the Secretary of War, arrived in camp and offered their services. They were particularly charged to look after the Massachusetts Volunteers, but with a zeal as creditable as it was rare, and a patriotism as conspicuous as it was disinterested, they expressed their readiness and their desire to render their services wherever they could be most useful. The party consisted of Drs. Cabot, Hodges, Gay, Parks, Hartwell, and Homans. A part of these gentlemen were assigned to the Massachusetts troops in Sumner's corps; the other fitted up a portion of the huts on the Ship Point road as a field hospital for the regulars. They had precisely the same means as every other surgeon had. With these means they were soon at the head of a model establishment for the field. After the evacuation of Yorktown and the battle of Williamsburg they repaired promptly to the town, and there rendered most important services to the wounded.
On the 19th Prof. Henry H. Smith, Surgeon-General of Pennsylvania, arrived with the steamer Wm. Whildin, completely fitted up with bedding, stores, instruments, a corps of 18 surgeons and dressers, and a full complement of Sisters of Charity for nurses. He brought with him also the means of embalming the bodies of the dead. This kind office he cheerfully performed for numbers of men from other States. Surgeon-General Smith, upon being informed of my plans, entered into them with hearty good-will, and seconded them with an earnest zeal and a refreshing intelligence that showed he had not acquired his knowledge of hospital administration in Laputa. Soon after his arrival the steamer Commodore was assigned to me by the Quartermaster's Department. Dr. Smith took charge of her equipment, and in a short time had her ready to receive 900 wounded. This vessel and the Wm. Whildin then became our receiving ships, one of which was to be constantly in position to receive the wounded.
Soon after our arrival in front of Yorktown malarial and typhoid fevers again appeared, though not with any alarming rapidity. The greatest proportion occurred in Keyes' corps, on our left. The country occupied by him was the worst on the Peninsula, and, in addition to that, one of his divisions was composed of our newest troops. Desirous of keeping the army as little encumbered as possible with sick, that its movements might not be embarrassed on that account, I took measures to send to the North those too ill to move with us.