By the 20th of November the number in the various hospitals was reduced to about 450.
When it is remembered that the battle of Chickamauga, fought at a long distance from the base of supply, in a region already gleaned of resources and difficult of access, was lost, and the army subsequently cooped up in a basin, with but one outlet by a circuitous and difficult route of 50 miles in length, it may be safely asserted that the obstacles to be overcome in the successful care and treatment of wounded were more formidable in this than any other of the great battles of the war. An indulgent criticism may therefore be fairly claimed when reviewing the results of treatment.
The wounds received were inflicted by a variety of missiles, but those from the rifled-musket ball were perhaps more numerous in proportion than usual for so great a battle. The ground on which the battle was fought, being undulating and thickly timbered, was therefore unfavorable for the use of artillery.
I can bear testimony to the zeal and efficiency of the medical staff during this trying battle. While it is a difficult task to take care of the wounded of a victorious army, it is doubly so of one obliged to retreat.
To Surgs. F. H. Gross, U. S. Volunteers, medical director, Fourteenth Army Corps; A. J. Phelps, U. S. Volunteers, medical director of the Twenty-first Army Corps, and J. Perkins, Tenth Regiment Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, medical director of the Twentieth Army Corps, great credit is due for their efficiency and untiring devotion to their duties during the whole campaign. I would respectfully invite your attention to their reports,* herewith transmitted.
I will here mention that the wounded sent to the rear were provided for in a proper manner under the direction of Surg. A. H. Thurston, U. S. Volunteers, assistant medical director at Nashville. I have to acknowledge my indebtedness to Asst. Surg. Dallas Bache, U. S. Army, assistant medical director, for most valuable assistance upon the field and in the duties of this office.
Surg. H. H. Seys, Fifteenth Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry, medical inspector, was attentive and faithful in his duties.
The purveying department has been conducted in a most able and satisfactory manner by Surg. Robert Fletcher, First Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry, now surgeon of volunteers.
This report has been unavoidably delayed, because the wounded were sent to the rear in such a rapid and irregular manner as to preclude the possibility of taking lists until the men arrived at the hospitals on the route.
The reports taken in hospitals have been diligently compared with regimental returns, and the inclosed list is believed to be nearly, if not quite, correct.
No little embarrassment has been experienced, also, from the destruction of all the records of this office by the Confederate General Wheeler during his attack on our train in the Sequatchie Valley in the early part of October.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Surgeon, U. S. Army, Medical Director.
Brigadier General WILLIAM D. WHIPPLE, U. S. Volunteers,
*Inserted with their respective army corps.