to the medical care and hygiene of his command, and to have personal care of the attaches of the division staff and headquarters, and to advise and consult with his medical subordinates.
To each corps was assigned a medical director, a commissioned surgeon, his permanent assignment being made on personal application of the lieutenant-general
commanding the corps; temporarily and when emergency demanded, his duties, which were similar to those of the chief surgeon
of division as pertaining to the corps, devolved upon the chief surgeon
of division whose commission bore priority of date; he, in turn, being succeeded by the ranking senior surgeon of brigade.
A medical director
was assigned to the staff of each general commanding a department, or an army in a department, his selection usually being in deference to the general on whose staff he served and to whom was submitted for approval all reports and papers, from the various army corps, independent divisions, brigades, or smaller detachments.
He also had charge of the staff and attaches of the department or army headquarters.
The non-commissioned medical staff consisted of a hospital steward for each regiment or battalion, with the rank and emoluments of an orderly sergeant, his selection as a rule being made by the ranking medical officer of the command, usually a graduate or undergraduate in medicine, or one having had previous experience in handling drugs; and his duties were to have charge of the medical, surgical, and hospital supplies under direction of the regimental or battalion medical officer, caring for and dispensing the same, seeing that the directions of his superior as to diet and medicines were carried out, or reporting their neglect or failure.
The regimental band constituted the infirmary detail to aid in caring for the sick in Camp and to carry the wounded from the field of battle, and when so occupied were under the surgeon or assistant surgeon.
When necessary, additional detail was made from the enlisted men to serve temporarily or permanently on the infirmary corps.
In some instances, an enlisted man was detailed as hospital clerk, and with the hospital steward was required to be present at sick-call each morning; these soldiers, with the infirmary detail, were relieved from all other regimental duty, such as guard duty and police detail.
The duties of the assistant surgeon
were to assist or relieve the surgeon in caring for the sick and wounded in Camp or on the march.
On the field of battle he was expected to be close up in the immediate rear of the center of his regiment, accompanied by the infirmary detail, and to give primary attention, first aid to the wounded—this consisting in temporary control of hemorrhage by ligature, tourniquet, or bandage and compress, adjusting and temporarily fixing fractured limbs, administering water, anodynes, or stimulants, if needed, and seeing that the wounded were promptly carried to the field-hospital in the rear by the infirmary detail or ambulance.
The duties of the surgeons, in addition to caring for the sick in Camp and on the march, were to establish a field-hospital, as soon as they could learn that the command to which they were attached was going under fire, at some convenient and, if possible, sheltered spot behind a hill or in a ravine, about one-half to one mile in rear of the line of battle, which was done under direction of a brigade or division surgeon.
Here the combined medical staff of a brigade or division aided one another in the performance of such operations as were deemed necessary, as the wounded were brought from the front by the infirmary detail on stretchers or in the ambulance.
Amputations, resections of bone, ligatures of arteries, removals of foreign bodies, adjusting and permanently fixing fractures, and all minor and major operations and dressings were made when deemed best for the comfort and welfare of the wounded men. As soon as possible after the permanent dressings were made at the field-hospital, and even in some instances while the troops were still engaged, the wounded were carried to the railroad and transported to the more permanent hospitals in the villages, towns, and cities, some miles distant.
The uniform worn by the medical corps was similar to that of the rank and file with only a slight difference.
While the cloth and cut were the same, the facings of the coat collar and cuffs and the stripe down the sides of the trousers were black, while those of the infantry were light blue, the artillery, scarlet, and cavalry, buff; on the front of the cap or hat were the letters ‘M. S.’
embroidered in gold, embraced in two olive branches.
On the coat sleeve of the assistant surgeon
were two rows of gold braid, with three gold bars on the ends of the coat collar extending back about one and a half inches; while the surgeon had three rows of braid on the coat sleeves, and a single star on each side of the coat collar about an inch and a half from the end. The chevrons on the coat sleeves and the stripe down the trousers of the hospital steward were similar to those worn by an orderly or first sergeant, but were black in color.
The statement is sometimes made that many Confederate surgeons were inefficient, and in