This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 were paramount. Generally speaking, ammunition was forwarded first, rations second, and medical supplies third. Owing to the tremendous number of men engaged, it was early demonstrated that road spaces occupied by marching troops had to be studied so that organizations could be moved and deployed as rapidly as possible. Nothing except the barest necessities could be brought to the front where large armies were contending. In spite of every effort, transportation always tended to increase. For example, when Grant entered upon his Wilderness campaign, it is said that his trains contained between five thousand and six thousand wagons, which, on a single road, would have made a column over fifty miles long. The first tendency of new troops is to overload, and to this neither the Civil War as a whole nor its medical service in particular proved exceptions. All finally came to realize that the nature and degree of sanitary relief which could be provided for troops at the front must partake of a compromise between what might be desirable and what was possible. At the beginning of the war, each regimental surgeon was furnished with a suitable equipment for his regiment for field service, in quantities regulated by the supply table. This table, which was revised about a year later, seemed to contemplate the medical and surgical outfitting of regiments on the basis of independent service, and when they became brigaded much of the equipment so supplied was found to be not only unduly heavy and cumbrous but also unnecessary. The medical and surgical material available on the firingline was practically that carried by the surgeon in his case, known as the ‘surgeon's field companion,’ and by his orderly in the ‘hospital knapsack,’ a bulky, cumbersome affair weighing, when filled, about twenty pounds. Wounds were expected—nay, encouraged—to suppurate, and that they could heal without inflammation was undreamed of by the keenest surgical imagination. Their repair was always expected to be a slow, painful, and exhausting process.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.