old and taking counsel of the inexperienced for no better reason than because they were young.
The administrative duties of the medical department among the continental nations are chiefly committed to experienced officers of the line. In France these officers are called military intendants. In Russia I believe they have no distinct title. In Great Britain, however, these duties are performed by medical officers who have qualified themselves for them by faithful service in inferior grades. The British is a practical, the French a theoretical, nation. I think the experience of the Crimea has shown the British system to be the best. The military intendant being a non-professional man cannot understand that the laws of nature may require a modification of an army regulation to prevent mischief. The medical administrative officer will probably be better qualified to judge as to this point, and having the advantage of equal military experience with the other will not be likely to embarrass the operations of a campaign by medical follies that are harmless only in the newspapers.
Some capital plans were suggested to me for the comfort of the sick and wounded while on the Peninsula. The difficulty in the way of adopting them was that the Yorktown road was not a Broadway, nor the railway to White House the New York Central. Cars might have been fitted up for the hospital department while we were upon the Chickahominy if we had had the cars; if we had had the time and means to fit them up; if the road had not been required for the transportation of ammunition, subsistence, and forage. The army was, perhaps, unfortunate in having a medical director who supposed it was assembled to make war, and that cartridges were more indispensable than bed-quilts.
For a medical department in the field I would provide, if it were possible, that a surgeon of a regiment should have served not less than five years as an assistant surgeon. This is the law in relation to the Regular Army, but for an irregular and temporary force it is plainly impossible. While we insist upon the principle for efficiency we are compelled to yield it for expediency.
The British army has a surgeon and three assistants to a regiment of infantry of 1,025 men. They have also a staff of thirty-nine administrative and one hundred and forty-nine executive medical officers. The latter are for hospital duties and the like.
In the field one medical officer to 250 men is, in my opinion, a minimum. It is not necessary to keep so many constantly with a regiment, but some are always required for detached service, such, for instance, as our hospitals at White House and Yorktown and the hospital transports. These demands must always occur in a campaign. They should be provided for in time, and not left to chance. Scientific citizen surgeons volunteered their services at the battles on the Peninsula, but how many found their way to Port Royal or to Vicksburg.
At the headquarters of an army there should be a chief surgeon, an aide-de-camp to the commanding general, with the same rank as the chief of the other departments of the staff. This officer, being charged with the administration of the medical department, should be authorized to give orders in the name of the commanding general in relation to all matters connected with the health of the army; the supervision of certificates of disability for discharge, pension certificates, applications for leave of absence for ill-health, sanitary suggestions, and regulating the establishing and furnishing of hospitals, and the like. He should have one side at least for each corps d'armee of which the army is composed. For such an army as the Army of the