War of the Rebellion: Serial 128 Page 0422 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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detailed as purveyors to provide supplies appertaining to the care of the sick. The necessities of the service rendering it impossible for the Surgeon-General to divert his attention from the administration of the professional duties of Medical Department, a sort of sub-department for provision of supplies was extemporized by directing the purveyors throughout the Confederacy to obey the instructions of the purveyor at Richmond (where is the principal depot), who was appointed to this undefined control of the movement of supplies is not sufficient to meet the vast demands of what is in itself a large and, considering its object, a most important department, because-

1. The duties of the purveying department have practically and really no relation to those of the Medical Department. The first relates to the administrative duty of supply entirely similar to those of the Quartermaster's and Commissary or other administrative department of supply. The second is concerned with the professional care of the sick and wounded. It needs only a glance to see how different are the objects to be accomplished by the two departments. The organization of the Medical Department was simply adopted from that of the old U. S. Army without any relation to the very different circumstances and demands of this Army. In the old Army it was possible to get along with this organization for an army not greatly larger than one of our divisions; though even then advantage would have been derived from a department providing all supplies relating to the soldier considered as hors de combat from wounds or sickness. In the Confederate Army the necessities of the service have vindicated themselves by an improvised arrangement growing out of its exigencies, yet necessarily imperfect, and coming short of the duty to be done from want of sufficient power and unity of plan and action. The Medical Department, composed of surgeons and assistant surgeons, should properly be concerned only with the professional care of the sick and wounded in hospitals, quarters, or in the field, and the energies of the Medical Department should be directed and confined solely to the proper professional care of the sick. In civil life, with regard to physicians, it would not be reasonable or judicious to look to other business than the profession as a means of promoting the good of their patients; much more is this true of medical men in the Army. Nor does the professional education and habits of life of medical men tend toward the development of mental characteristics desirable for conducting the administrative duty of collecting and furnishing supplies and developing resources, unless there exists theion of the individual mind to this kind of business. So that as the objects of the purveying department differ entirely from the professional care of the sick, and as there is no necessity for or even advantage to be derived from placing surgeons (except in the few cases where they may have natural adaptation and experience) in positions entirely foreign to the duties of their profession and habits, it is very desirable that the purveying department should be separated from the medical.

2. But there are other reasons why this separation is demanded. There is a want of unity of plan and action. The Surgeon-General does not and cannot know, if he attends properly to the administration of the Medical Department proper, the circumstances of supply; yet, theoretically, the whole matter of duty of supply is supposed to be done under his direction. The purveyor, who is charged with what relates to the movement of supplies, has all the responsibility and but little real power to carry forward the duty systematically, as the