transportation;" the colonels had taken the "doctor's" wagon to carry other baggage-at least that was the excuse offered.
Want of discipline was seriously felt in the difficulty of getting reports from the medical officers. It was inconvenient to make them; inconvenient to send them in; the necessity for them was not apparent. The habit of obedience to orders, whether the reason for them is comprehend or not, is one of slow growth, and particularly among medical men brought up in civil life. I never could get complete reports even while we were in Washington. After we took the field that difficulty was much increased. Still, for the successful administration of the department, these reports were absolutely necessary.
The number of medical officers was too limited. One surgeon and one assistant were allowed to a regiment. No provision was made for a staff, from which details to supply hospitals could be made, or an officer detached to supply a vacancy from illness, death, or resignation. This was a great oversight. The medical director could not remedy it.
There was unquestionably a deficiency of hospital tents upon the Peninsula, but if all that were issued to the regiments at Washington had been carefully transported by them they would have had enough. They, too, were left behind in many instances, both on the Potomac and at Yorktown. Want of transportation was again the excuse.
Some one will ask, Why did you not arrest, try, and dismiss the medical officers who were derelict? How much better off should we have been in that resort? Who were to take their places? When would they reach us? Would the new swarm have been any better than the old, appointed under the same auspices, drawn from the same sources, and with no experience at all?
The fault was not with them; it was the fault of the system. Original vice cannot be atoned for nor its consequences averted by repetition. "The evils which flow from injudicious counsels can seldom be removed by the application of partial severities."
The failure of the medical department of the Army of the Potomac to meet a just public expectation [if it did so fail, which I dispute] was due to a deficiency in the number of officers, to the denial to them of a proper official position, they being considered only as "doctors," to be called upon to prescribe for a man reporting sick, but not authorized to meddle in any way with the police customs of the camp, or to insist on any measures for the preservation of the health of the men, to their not being permitted to control their own transportation when furnished to them, and to the incompetency of a portion of the officers themselves.
The duties of the medical department are administrative and professional. The same officer should not be charged with both; one alone is sufficient to employ the powers of the ablest mind. The administrative duties require experience- a military and professional training-to be acquired only by time and opportunity. We have committed the fault in this war of imposing administrative duties upon officers with neither experience in them nor talent for them. We have charged individuals with the most important of these duties who have never seen a single campaign, have never heard a hostile shot, have never seen a regiment collected together in the field. It is possible it may be judicious to do so, but experience and observation have up to this time taught a different lesson. This war may show that Rehoboam was right after all in dismissing the old counselors because they were
13 R R-VOL XI