On the morning of the 20th the movement of the army to the left continued. Our hospitals on the right becoming more distant, and communication with them precarious, it was deemed best to establish small depots immediately in rear of the left wing.
As soon as the right gave way communication with Crawfish Spring, the main hospital depot, was cut off. The position, too, was becoming quite unsafe, when Surgeon Phelps, U. S. Volunteers, medical director of the Twenty-first Army Corps, and Surgeons Waterman and Griffiths, medical directors of the First and Third Divisions, of the Twentieth Army Corps, appreciating the danger, availed themselves of the empty supply trains parked at that point to send the wounded across Mission Ridge and by the Chattanooga Valley road to Chattanooga. In this place I take pleasure in acknowledging the valuable assistance of Lieutenant-Colonel Boyd, chief quartermaster of the Twentieth Army Corps, and Captain Leech, commissary of subsistence.
Although these officers labored faithfully to remove all the wounded from Crawfish Spring, it was found impracticable. Medical officers were therefore detailed to remain, and provisions distributed in such manner as to insure them for the benefit of the patients during the confusion that must result immediately after a battle.
The wounded at the hospitals on the left were detained only long enough to perform such operations as admitted of no delay, and then sent to the rear by the Rossville road. About 1,500 of the graver cases were left on this part of the field.
From the best information I can procure, I should estimate the total number of wounded left upon the field to be about 2,500. Great care was taken by medical directors of divisions to detail medical officers with the necessary dressings, medicines, &c., to remain; and provisions were usually divided out among the men to prevent any possible suffering from hunger.
In the retreat every vehicle, baggage wagons, and supply trains, as well as the ambulances, were filled with wounded. Great numbers that were able to walk found their way on foot to the north side of the Tennessee River and continued their journey toward Bridgeport. The graver cases were removed from the ambulances and wagons and placed in hospitals at Chattanooga, while the others were taken to Bridgeport and Stevenson. A tent hospital, sufficiently large for 1,500 patients, was established on the 21st and 22nd instant, at Stringer's Spring, on the north side of the river and about 2 miles distant.
Ambulances were sent out on the Bridgeport road to take up and bring back the wounded who had undertaken the journey to Bridgeport on foot and had fallen by the wayside. By the evening of the 23rd wounded not sent to the rear were provided for and received professional attention.
It has been a cause of great regret that in the confusion of the retreat primary operations could not be performed to the extent desired; thus, many cases of injuries of the knee and ankle joints subsequently proved fatal that might have been saved by timely amputation.
As soon as the army had taken up its position in front of Chattanooga, and order restored, the commanding general sent a flag of truce with propositions for the recovery of our wounded left upon the field; 1,740 were thus restored to our care. They were, of course,
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