War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0186 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

Search Civil War Official Records

reached Cumberland at noon on the 14th. Here I found a number of sick, reported as unable to go on. It was raining hard, and the roads were almost impracticable. It was necessary to make some provision for the sick. I took a small tug at night and went down the river until I reached the steamer Commodore. The master of the vessel refused to go up the river without a pilot, as it would vitiate his insurance. I applied to the provost-marshal at Eltham for a pilot. He knew of none. Chancing to hear of the mate of a brig about sailing for home who was said to know the river, I sent him an order in your name to repair in getting her to Cumberland, and thus provided a hospital. Leaving her in position, on the 16th I moved with the headquarters to White House.

This being the new base of operations, it was necessary to establish a general hospital there. There were no buildings at all fit for the purpose, so to meet present necessities I resorted to the use of tents. A detail was ordered to pitch them. Under the superintendence of Brigade-Surgeon Baxter, one of the best officers in the service, with 150 men we succeeded in two days' work in getting but 34 tents pitched. At the end of four days 100 were ready-all we could command. Cooking caldrons were got in readiness, subsistence procured, bed-sacks filled, &c., without delay.

The army being again in motion, more sick and a multitude of stragglers rushed in upon us. Our store-ship and the hospital transports being up, I detailed the Daniel Webster No. 1 to convey a party of the worst cases to Boston. These men were ordered to be selected with great care from those in the hospital tents. Two hundred and sixty was the number to be received. Before one-half this number was sent from the hospital the ship was reported filled. Stragglers had rushed on board without authority and taken possession. I sent a brigade surgeon to expel them, but without avail. I then determined to send no more men from the Peninsula on account of sickness if there were any means of avoiding it. Orders in relation to the selection of cases were useless. I am sure that hundreds of malingers succeeded in deserting their colors on the hospital transports in spite of every effort of mine to prevent it. The regimental officers might have prevented it. I could not.

After the 260 had left on the Daniel Webster I found 1,020 in the hospital tents, and of these 900 were reported to me by the medical officers in charge as men with such trifling ailments that they should never have been permitted to fall to the rear. A letter to the medical director of Keyes' corps [appendix S4] will show how I endeavored to prevent such abuses. Another, marked S5, shows the capacity and organization of the general hospitals at White House and Yorktown.

Much censure and abuse having been indulged in toward you as well as myself for not having appropriated the dwelling at White House to the general hospital, I append a copy of a special report made to you on that subject. [See appendix T.] While still at White House, I received a telegram from the front that scurvy had appeared in two brigades of the army, one of these being the regulars. I could scarcely credit the accuracy of the information. I knew that brigade had obeyed orders issued in relation to the use of vegetables and the manner of cooking their rations. Still I did not think it prudent to disregard the report, and accordingly I telegraphed to Washington for lemons and potash. I procured a few boxes of lemons from the stores