War of the Rebellion: Serial 015 Page 0345 Chapter XXIV. BATTLE OF KERNSTOWN, VA.

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deficient in medical supplies and with very limited transportation, and has been employed ever since in marching and counter-marching or engaging the enemy, no opportunity has been afforded to supply its wants. When the battle terminated, therefore, we found the supplies inadequate for the occasion, and the medical force not so large as desirable, in consequence of a number of officers being from necessity on duty with their regiments in pursuit of the enemy.

As soon as the action became severe, which was not till 4.30 p.m., the ambulances were ordered to the front, and commenced the work of removing the wounded to a place of shelter. As Winchester was near by, and the night fast approaching, it was thought best to remove the wounded to that place without delay. Camp-fires were made on the field, the wounded collected around, and directed to remain near them until the wagons should pick them up. After making these arrangements, about 8 p.m. I returned to Winchester, and spent most of the night in providing for their accommodation and attending to such cases as required immediate attention. As the medical officers were mostly inexperienced, and some confusion (inseparable to such an occasion) existed, I remained a day in Winchester after the command had advanced until things appeared to be working well, when I left to join headquarters, it being reported that an action was going on near Strasburg.

Complaints of inattention to the wounded having reached me, I again proceeded to Winchester, and found the arrangements not as satisfactory as I could wish, which was owing chiefly to a want of co-operation the part of the quartermaster's and commissary departments, arising from a want of knowledge, or a want of disposition, to perform their duties. From a consideration of all the circumstances I believe that much of the discomfort of the wounded has been owing to circumstances beyond the control of the medical officers.

I mention these details in explanation of the difficulties known to exist in providing immediately for 400 wounded soldiers suddenly thrown upon us without the means and appliances sufficient to accommodate them, and which cannot be done without some delay.

After writing the above I received a note from Surg. C. C. Keeney to meet him in Winchester, and to him I will refer for further details. I have requested him to send at least 300 bedsteads for hospitals in Winchester and a supply of stores of all kinds.

I have heard that Dr. Alexander, the medical purveyor of this command, has been ordered away from Baltimore, and I am not aware who has relieved him, and shall be glad to be informed on the subject.

I have to request that a supply for 20,000 men for three months be forwarded to Winchester for this corps, as many of the medical officers are very deficient in medicines and stores of all kinds, and we find that, owing to our frequent change of position, it is impracticable to obtain the supplies called for from the purveyor at Baltimore. A supply of medicines and stores on hand, according to my experience, is as necessary to an army in the field as it is to have a supply of subsistence, so far as availability is concerned. The supplies necessary to establish hospitals we must expect to receive from Washington, as we have no transportation to carry them along with us.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. S. KING,

Surgeon and Medical Director Fifth Army Corps.

Surg. General C. A. FINLEY,

Washington City, D. C.