The organization of a medical branch of your Bureau had not been completed prior to the date of your order assigning me to duty as chief medical officer, a copy of which is as follows, viz:
WAR DEPARTMENT, PROVOST-MARSHAL-GENERAL'S BUREAU, Washington, D. C., January 11, 1864.
Surg. J. H. Baxter, U. S. Volunteers, having reported for duty in accordance with Special Orders, No. 5, Adjutant-General's Office, War Department, 1864, is hereby assigned to duty as chief medical officer.
JAMES B. FRY,
Upon the receipt of the above order, which created the Medical Branch of this Bureau, I immediately opened an office in quarters assigned for that purpose.
Under the previous able administration of Lieutenant Colonel R. H. Coolidge, medical inspector, U. S. Army, all medical matters pertaining to your Bureau had been conducted with rare skill and executive ability.
A list of diseases and disabilities, for the government of surgeons of boards of enrollment, had been prepared by a medical board, of which Medical Inspector Coolidge was president, and medical questions in regard to the formation of the Invalid Corps had received his assiduous care and attention. I take this occasion to express my personal and official obligations to this experienced and patriotic officer (whose recent detach had deprived the medical corps of one of its most zealous and accomplished members) for his valuable counsel so freely tendered me in the establishment of this branch of your Bureau.
By personal inspection of many boards of enrollment and by correspondence I acquainted myself with the difficulties under which surgeons of boards labored, and by circular letters and forms for medical record books and reports, issued from this branch, a uniformity of action was established which resulted not only to the good of the Bureau, but rendered less onerous and more correct the performance of the duties devolving upon the surgeons of boards of enrollment.
The record books are similar to those prescribed in the pamphlet issued by the Adjutant-General entitled "Instructions for Officers of the Adjutant-General's Department, and Others of Kindred Duties;" i.e., "letters received," "letters sent," and "indorsement and memoranda;" and the method adopted in keeping said books has not differed in any material point from that laid down in the work referred to, which is so universally followed that I do not deem it necessary to detail it in this report. The medical reports accumulated so rapidly and were of such size that it was thought necessary to open a separate book in which to record their receipt. This book is entitled "Record of Medical Reports Received."
Immediately upon the receipt of the mail from the office of "general and miscellaneous business" it was opened and examined by the chief clerk of this branch, and all letters pertaining to this office or involving medical questions, with the exception of letters of transmittal of the regular "medical reports," properly indorsed and entered in the book of "letters received;" after which those letters requiring the attention and action of the chief medical officer were submitted to him and disposed of according to his direction.
The "medical reports" were first entered in the "record of medical reports received," submitted to the chief medical officer or to one of the medical officers on duty in branch, by whom they were examined as to the medical points involved, after which they were sent to the "examining room," where they passed through a through examination