The ample provision for sick and wounded existing at the date of the last annual report increased during the ensuing months until a maximum of 204 general hospitals, with a capacity of 136,894 beds, was reached.
Upon the termination of active military movements, immediate measures were taken to reduce the expenses of the Medical Department. Of the 201 general hospitals open on January 1, 1865, 171 have been discontinued. Three of the sea-going hospital transports have been discharged; the fourth is now constantly engaged in transfer of sick and wounded from Southern ports to the general hospitals in New York Harbor. All of the river hospital boats have been turned over to the Quartermaster's Department, and but a single hospital train is retained in the Southwest. The vast amount of medicines and hospital supplies made surplus by the reduction of the Army has been carefully collected at prominent points and is being disposed of at public auction, most of the articles bringing their full value, and in some instances their cost price.
Two hundred and fourteen surgeons and assistant surgeons of volunteers have been mustered out, and of the 265 hospital chaplains appointed during the war twenty-nine only are still in commission.
The returns of sick and wounded show that of white troops 1,057,423 cases have been treated in general hospitals alone from 1861 to July 1, 1865, of which the rate of mortality was 8 per cent. In nearly all sections of the country the health of the troops has been fully equal to that of preceding years, though military movements of unprecedented magnitude have been pushed to successful termination, without regard to seasons. An epidemic of yellow fever prevailed at New Berne, N. C., in the fall of 1864, and the released or exchanged prisoners arriving at Wilmington, N. C., from rebel prisons suffered from an epidemic have appeared, and it is interesting to note that quarantine regulations, strictly enforced by military authority, have proved during the occupation of Southern sea-ports and cities by our troops to be an absolute protection against the importation of contagious or infectious diseases. In view of the apprehensions entertained in regard to the Asiatic cholera, now devastating the shores of the Mediterranean, this becomes a significant fact.
In addition to the alphabetical registers of dead, not yet fully completed, the records of the Medical Department contain 30,000 special reports of the more important forms of surgical injuries, of diseases, and operations. These reports, with statistical data, and a pathological collection numbering 7,630 specimens, furnish a mass of valuable information, which is being rapidly arranged and tabulated, as a medical and surgical history of the war, for the publication of the first volume of which an appropriation will be asked.
In this connection and as illustrating more in detail the importance of this work, the Army Medical Museum assumes the highest value. By its array of indisputable facts, supported and enriched by full reports, it supplies instruction otherwise unattainable, and preserves for future application the dearly bought experience of four years of war. Apart from its great usefulness, it is also an Honorable record of the skill and services of those medical officers whose contributions constitute its value, and whose incentive to these self-imposed labors has been the desire to elevate their profession. A small appropriation has been asked to continue and extend this collection.