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[304]

But the transportation results achieved in these ways were usually possible only over short distances. The organization of the medical service made no provision for removal of the wounded from the regimental collecting-points to hospital facilities further to the rear. There were no sanitary organizations in reserve, available to assist near the firing-line where their service might be needed, or to bridge with their succor, care, and transportation, the often tremendous gap between the relief stations of the regimental surgeons and the general hospitals, usually far in rear. Frequently surgeons with some regiments in action were overwhelmed by the number of casualties in their organizations, while others might be idly waiting with commands held in reserve. The need for organizations to play the part of intermediaries was obvious, but for some occult reason failed to appeal at first to those who had the direction of general military affairs in charge. The lack of such specially equipped and trained organizations resulted in a vast amount of suffering during the first eighteen months of the war, and gave rise to much criticism of the Medical Department which the latter in nowise deserved.

A carefully matured plan for the organization of a hospital corps, to belong to the Medical Department and take over work which was at that time being inefficiently done by some sixteen thousand enlisted men detailed from the line of the army, was submitted to the Secretary of War on August 21, 1862, but failed of adoption as a result of the opposition of General Halleck, general-in-chief. An appeal was then made as follows:

Surgeon-General's Office, September 7, 1862.
Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War.
Sir: I have the honor to ask your attention to the frightful state of disorder existing in the arrangement for removing the wounded from the field of battle. The scarcity of ambulances, the want of organization, the drunkenness and incompetency of the drivers, the total absence of


 

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Edwin M. Stanton (2)
Halleck (2)
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September 7th, 1862 AD (2)
August 21st, 1862 AD (2)
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