It may be proper to mention more in detail the operations of the Fifth and Ninth Corps, more especially the Fifth, which was peculiar, occupying a point most essential to the enemy, which they could not give up without detriment to their line of supply. It being also far out on the flank it was improper and impossible (for military considerations) to advance much property to any convenient point until it was determined that the Fifth could hold the ground against all odds. The area was so limited and exposed to fire that the medical director (Surg. J. J. Milhau, U. S. Army) had necessarily a management that resembled that of the cavalry. On the 18th the Ninth Corps had not arrived our supported the Fifth. The enemy at one time swung in on the right of the Fifth, turned a part of the line, capturing prisoners, whom they carried off on their return to their own lines. At the earliest moment proper the Fifth Corps field hospital was advanced to the Williams house from the vicinity of army headquarters. In the absence of the corps director's report, I have recourse to a memoir of the operations of that period prepared and submitted to me by Asst. Surg. George M. McGill, U. S. Army, acting inspector, Army of the Potomac.
The Fifth Corps reached the Weldon railroad at 11 a.m. August 18 (four hours before the rain of that day). The enemy attacked at noon. The hospital train had arrived, primary rendezvous were formed with the material at hand, patients being placed under tent flies. Orders were sent to proper officers with the main trains to re-establish field division hospitals on the Prince George Court-House road. A train of wounded was sent back from the Fifth at 11 p.m. Operators were sent back to the division hospitals in the rear, as it was found impossible to render without inconvenience, injury, and unwarrantable risk to the wounded, all the necessary attention and comfort they required. The rain made the locality a swamp; shelter was insufficient, the rendezvous hospitals were on a flat swept by the missiles of the enemy. The available ambulances were used for the train at 11 p.m. 400 were sent in and 100 wounded remained. The casualties were chiefly in the Second Division, but the surgeons of the other divisions at the Prince George Court-House hospital, where they were concentrated, assisted those of the Second. It rained all night. Two ambulances were next morning abandoned in the deep mud. The low ground being barely passable for horses, a new and shorter road via the Aiken house, Jerusalem plank road by Williams' house, was made on morning of 19th. This second ambulance route became soon as bad as that by Temple's, and proved a severe trial of ambulance discipline and perseverance.
On the 19th I ordered the Sixth Corps ambulances (then assisting to clear the Ninth Corps hospitals) to report to Inspector Winne, of the Fifth, to remove the wounded to City Point, where they were sent, having received all proper attention on that and the succeeding day. The ambulance service from the front was very severe, pioneer parties preceded the trains, but the labor became such that to avoid utter exhaustion of men and animals, it became necessary to advance on the division hospitals (then seven miles in rear), four miles toward the front, to a site near Finn's (Williams' house to the south), which was accepting an attendant risk, until a line of works or troops connected the old main line with that being gained at the Weldon railroad. The transfer of hospital and patients from Prince George Court-House locality, both ways (patients to City Point and the hospitals to the new site) was made as ordered. On the afternoon of the 19th the enemy assaulted again, the Second and Fourth Divisions losing heavily,and it was night before the enemy was repelled, increasing the difficulty of collecting the wounded, the darkness being extreme, and heavy showers of rain continuing to fall. A train leaving at 9 p.m. was all night on the road. Five hours were consumed in getting an ambulance train on the 20th from the Weldon position to the Williams house. On that morning, however, all the wounded were lodged in the hospitals and the field ren-