supply their immediate wants. After a careful review of all the important medicines campaign, a selection was made, which, it was intended, should contain a sufficient number of medicines and all essential dressings and appliances, while it should not be too cumbrous, so that it might always be readily taken with the troops in the field. This selection was embodied, together with a plan of drawing and issuing supplies, in a circular issued from this office September 10. The acting medical purveyor was furnished with a copy of this circular, and was ordered to require for and issue supplies in accordance with it. In this system the division and not the brigade was made the unit of organization for the medical department, both as regards supplies, transportation, and field hospitals. The division system has afforded me the means of caring with the utmost celerity for large numbers of wounded thrown suddenly upon the medical department, as after the battles of Winchester and Middletown or Cedar Creek, and it has met the approval of all the medical officers of the army. Previous to the adoption of this plan, in all the troops, except the Sixth Corps, hospitals were established without system after a battle, and much confusion consequently resulted. This I endeavored to obviate by an order prescribing a uniform mode of organizing field hospitals. The general plan was the same as that introduced in the Army of the Potomac by Surg. J. Letterman, U. S. Army, and of which I had frequently witnessed the good effects, while serving in that army. An operating staff is appointed, as well as a medical officer in charge of food and shelter, a second officer in charge of records, and these report, before an engagement, to a surgeon who has the general charge of the hospital and who receives orders from the surgeon-in-chief of division.
Previous to my arrival supplies had been issued to the troops in the field by acting medical purveyors stationed with the commands, which they had supplied indiscriminately, there being no order to guide them regulating the issues or the amount of supplies to be kept on hand. It was soon found that these purveyors were unnecessary, as every brigade kept on hand the authorized supply, and could draw upon the division hospital when requisite. Having thus systematized to some extent the manner of furnishing this army with medical supplies, prescribed the kind and quantity of each to be kept on hand, concentrated a large store of all the essentials at the base ready for emergencies, as well as organized a system of field hospitals, in which wounded could be cared for after an engagement and the sick during marches and while in camp, I had but to make suitable provision for relieving the army of its wounded as rapidly as they might accumulate. For this purpose I increased a small hospital of about 300 beds at Sandy Hook to a capacity of 1,300, and stationed a medical officer at the base as medical director of transportation, with instructions to receive all sick and wounded, and to forward the moderately severe cases to Baltimore, retaining the very severe as well as the very slight cases for treatment at Sandy Hook or at Frederick. This officer received a daily report of the number of vacant beds in the general hospital at Frederick, and was thus guided in the shipment of cases. He also had charge of feeding and dressing the wounded, and kept me informed of the arrival and condition of every train; and, in addition, telegraphed to the medical directors of the Middle Department and Department of West Virginia the time trains started for Baltimore or Frederick. Before all of these arrangements had been completed the army commenced a forward movement.