the graver cases, and, as timely preparations had been made for their reception, they were soon as comfortable as circumstances would admit.
It may be mentioned here that, upon the occupancy of the town, over 200 bales of cotton were found secreted in various places, which were seized, carefully guarded, and reserved for mattresses. Had it not been for this fortunate circumstance the sufferings of our wounded would have been much greater, as it was impossible to have procured straw, and the supply of blankets was limited.
About 150 upholsterers, tailors, and saddler were detailed to make mattresses, so that by the tenth day every severely wounded man was provided with a comfortable bed.
The ambulance trains were busily employed transporting such cases as could bear transportation to Bridgeport, until the autumnal rains rendered the roads impassable.
The policy of transporting patients to the rear when they could only be transported over a rough, circuitous, and mountainous road, necessarily subjecting them to more or less pain, was dictated by necessity; for, if the army maintained its position, it was evident that the wounded must suffer from want of proper diet, while, on the other hand, if the town was abandoned, they must fall into the hands of the enemy. This view was unfortunately too well verified, for as the roads became more and more difficult by reason of the rains, only those subsistence stores that were absolutely essential could be brought, and even these were soon reduced in quantity far below the standard ration. The country on the north side of the river was gleaned of everything in the way of vegetables.
Every effort was made to secure to the wounded enough food from the regular ration, including soft bread, but in the absence of vegetables and other delicacies, they exhibited but too plainly the sad evidences of deficient nutrition. Superadded to the deficiency of proper food, a want of fuel was also felt during the latter part of October and all of November.
It was very discouraging to the medical attendants to witness the gradual but certain decline of patients who should have recovered, while they felt themselves powerless to apply the proper remedy. Partial relief from this condition of affairs was afforded after the battle of Wauhatchie, which opened a new and shorter route to the base of supply. A few days after this battle, the small steamer Paint Rock passed the enemy's batteries successfully and we were enabled to resume the transfer of patients to the rear. At Kelly's Ferry, a point 10 miles distant, where the boats discharged their freights, a few hospital tents were erected and other preparations made for the care of the wounded in transit. Patients were sent in ambulances from the hospitals in town, as well as Stringer's Spring, to this point as rapidly as circumstances would admit, the roads being bad and the weather rainy and cold. The patients were also exposed, while going from Kelley's Ferry to Bridgeport, for the boats were small, with open decks, having been hastily constructed for carrying freight only. Yet, painful as it was, it appeared necessary to send men exposed in this manner in order to make room for the care of others.
It was evident that a struggle for the possession of Lookout Mountain and the recovery of our line of railroad communication with the rear was at hand; with our limited means for the care of many wounded, the approaching conflict was viewed with much anxiety, and every preparation must be made that circumstances would admit.