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[316] upon which litters were laid or suspended, jarring being taken up by springs or rubber. These trains often included special cars arranged and used as kitchens, storerooms, dispensaries, and surgeries. From the completeness of their resources, the better type of them was practically a hospital on wheels.

Frequently the sick and wounded were easiest and best removed by water, particularly in the vicinity of the Atlantic coast and in sections of the Mississippi watershed. But all transport vessels were under control of the Quartermaster's Department, which ordinarily gave the greatest preference and importance to its own duties, until higher authority, roused by the justice of the appeals, ordered a number of steamers placed under the exclusive control of the medical officers. These varied in type from ordinary freight-boats and transports returning empty, to the finest type of speedy, capacious steamers, completely remodeled into floating hospitals. Some of these hospital boats were planned for the care of four hundred or more patients. One old hulk was fitted up after the battle of Shiloh, with accommodations for a thousand men, and used as a receiving and forwarding hospital for the fleet of river hospital steamers. The latter were kept continually on the move, and a single such steamer is recorded to have removed 12,299 sick and wounded in the space of seventeen months. This steamer hospital service was a new departure in military affairs and was a matter of gradual development to the end of the war, when it had become most complete as to equipment and administrative efficiency. All the boats used for hospital purposes were ultimately assigned officially to the use of the Medical Department, either for the trip or—in the case of specially equipped steamers—indefinitely. The surgeon in charge was in complete control of the boat and its movements, except in respect to the details of navigation. The system worked so successfully as to be continued during the Spanish War, and is part of the regulations at the present time.

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