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[306] ambulance attendants are now working their legitimate results—results which I feel I have no right to keep from the knowledge of the department. The whole system should be under the charge of the Medical Department. An ambulance corps should be organized and set in instant operation. . . . Up to this date six hundred wounded still remain on the battlefield, in consequence of an insufficiency of ambulances and the want of a proper system for regulating their removal in the Army of Virginia. Many have died of starvation; many more will die in consequence of exhaustion, and all have endured torments which might have been avoided. I ask, sir, that you will give me your aid in this matter; that you will interpose to prevent a recurrence of such consequences as have followed the recent battle—consequences which will inevitably ensue on the next important engagement if nothing is done to obviate them.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

William A. Hammond, Surgeon-General.


This letter was returned with an endorsement from General Halleck, reiterating his continued disapproval of the whole plan of medical organization, in the face of which opposition in high places, no further steps at army headquarters could, for the time, be taken.

But in the mean time, medical officers of independent commands had been endeavoring to improve conditions within the immediate jurisdiction of their commanders, and in the Army of the Potomac, Medical Director Letterman had convinced General McClellan, perhaps the ablest organizer in the Northern forces, of the need for some special provision for the first aid and transportation of wounded. On August 2, 1862, General McClellan issued an order embodying Medical Director Letterman's plan, which was not only the first of its kind but so complete and practical as to have since served as the basis for the organization of the medical service in the field in all the armies of the world. The order need not be here further discussed than to mention that it organized an ambulance corps with animals, transportation, personnel, and supplies

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George B. McClellan (4)
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August 2nd, 1862 AD (2)
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