As a further preparation for anticipated active operations an application was made b the acting medical director to have the drummers and musicians of the command report at the commencement of the campaign to the surgeon in charge of the field hospital. It was acceded to. The surgeon in charge was directed to place them under command of the commissioned combatant officer attached to his hospital, who, with the assistance of two or three non-commissioned officers, was expected to keep up an efficient discipline among them, and when work of any description was to be performed by them to superintend its performance. During the campaign of 1864 although it was expected that during an engagement drummer boys and musicians would report to the hospital for duty, only a few of them did so, the majority straggling over the country and doing as they pleased, there being none to exercise any authority over them, to take notice of their absence and punish them for it; and the services of those that did report were of no value, since no one was specially intrusted with their direction. In fact they were looked upon rather as an incumbrance than as affording any assistance. those belonging to the First Division, however, were in a measure organized and disciplined,a nd were found to be useful in proportion as they were so, doing guard duty, and in time of need rendering very effective service as stretcher-carriers. This led to the application for the order at this time.
On the 14th instant a telegram from headquarters, Army of the Potomac, medical director's office, directed the immediate removal to the depot, at City Point, of all those unable ot accompany the command on a march, and that in future the hospitals should be kept in as mobile a condition as possible. In accordance with these orders, on the 15th, 16th, and 17th instants, there were sent to the rear 779 sick and 71 wounded; of the sick a large proportion were trivial cases that within a few days were returned from the depot to their regiments for duty.
Very early on the morning of the 25th instant the enemy assaulted, captured, and were driven out of Fort Stedman, on the right of the Petersburg front. At 7 a. m. the Second Corps was placed under arms and ordered to expect marching orders at any moment. The idea that prevailed was that the corps would be called upon to move off to the right to aid in repairing the mischief effected by the enemy there, for thought the news of the surprise was known to us that of the subsequent success of the Ninth Corps had not reaches us. At 9 a. m. the corps was moved out of the fortifications and advanced in line of battle westward for fully a mile, until the works of the enemy were discovered; a brigade of the Third Division was sent forward to charge the first line of picket pits. This they did, losing but very few men in the assault. The wounded were speedily conveyed to Patrick's Station, where a couple of tents were pitched to accommodate them. Nothing of any moment occurred after this until about midday; an active picket shooting, it is true, was kept up, but the casualties were very few. At noon a second atack was made by the Third Division upon another line of rifle-pits; it was equally a success. After this the picket shooting became particularly sharp and continued so during the afternoon until 4.15, when the enemy, having massed Mahone's division in Miles' (First Division) front, assaulted his line with great vigor, but unsuccessfully. The fighting was very sharp and confined at first for the most part to that portion of the line held by the Irish Brigade (Second), but it gradually extended toward the left, implicating the whole of the Third Division and one or two regiments on the right of the Second.