buckets been furnished for it. My doubts as to a concerted action and foresight became, indeed, so far dominant, that before embarking with General Seymour on the Maple Leaf, I would fortify myself by the assurance of the Department Commander, “that the medical supplies should all be forwarded by the hospital steamer, then due from New York.” On the evening of the sixth, putting to sea, we arrived off St. John's bar at early dawn of the seventh, and wending our way up the river, landed at Jacksonville. Immediately (and while a desultory firing in the town had not yet ceased) I was looking about for a proper hospital building. But before definitely deciding on it, being ordered to go forward with the General, I directed Surgeon W. A. Smith, Forty-seventh New York volunteers, to act as Post-Surgeon, select the building or buildings, and make such temporary and preliminary arrangements in cleaning and preparing house and ground as might be necessary and possible, until the arrival of the Medical Director of the department would bring a decision about it, and the supplies were received for a complete arrangement. The ambulances, brought along, were distributed to the regiments in the order of their arrival, leaving by-and by a whole brigade without ambulances. We left, and within the week I had forwarded a small number of sick, and about twenty wounded, when late on Saturday evening (thirteenth) I rode from Barber's station back with the General to Jacksonville. On our arrival we found the steamers “Ben Deford” and “Cosmopolitan,” with the General commanding the department, and to my agreeable satisfaction, with the Medical Director on board. On asking for the supplies, I was informed that the Cosmopolitan had not yet touched at Hilton Head, but was boarded outside the bar by the Department Commander, and directly brought to Jacksonville, while the Medical Director came on another boat. No supplies were at Jacksonville other than the regimental stores, according to order left with the Purveyor of the department, and now stored at a brick building near the wharf. Of these, as many as were required (called for) were sent to the respective surgeons, they being, through the senior surgeons of brigades, notified of their being ready for disposal. To how much, in every single case, these amounted, cannot accurately be stated. There may, in the one case, have been more than required (needed), of single articles; in the others expectedly sufficient; in still another way a want of articles has been experienced. Yet under ordinary circumstances, the amount in quantity and kind would well hold out till the reserve depot should be established, and the articles used for organizing the temporary post hospital at Jacksonville, could be returned to their original (regimental) issue. The Medical Director being present, everything could come under his own observation, and be acted upon accordingly. Thus matters stood, when on Thursday (eighteenth) I received notice from General Seymour “that we would leave at once for the front.” Not exactly that we expected then a sanguinary engagement, nor even a far-off (distant) movement, but seeing, before we left Barber's to come to town, the necessity of establishing a field hospital at that comparatively secure place, and which the General, I knew from conversation, would, (and did) fortify, I had selected more than half the regimental supplies to be brought by rail to Baldwin and thence by wheel to Barber's, and these supplies had arrived about the same hour with the General and staff, on Friday, nineteenth, and could be regarded as more than sufficient. To make sure of the supplies for the post hospital, Jacksonville, however, and of more ambulances I had requested the General to send Surgeon Mulford, Forty-eighth New York volunteers, to Jacksonville and Hilton Head, and this, while not yet informed that a forward movement would take place. But Colonel Barton, his immediate commander, not approving of his surgeon leaving just then, the General cancelled the request, “for some days,” when at 10 P. M., the command was ordered to have cooked rations prepared, and be ready for the march at daybreak of February twentieth (Saturday). I repeat, I am too far from any necessity of an excuse on my part, and shall, therefore, confine myself to facts. It is a fact that the number of ambulances in the command was twelve; and that the most necessary supplies of the regiments had to be carried “on way-side carts;” but even those few ambulances would not have been on the ground could I have coincided with the opinion of Surgeon Swift, to the effect, “that all my sick and wounded from the several posts along the line of communication, which might extend sixty miles or more, should be forwarded to Jacksonville on them,” and “on them alone ;” an opinion, direction or order, in its execution so impracticable, howsoever well meant, that the very attempt on my part to take the only ambulance of a regiment in the field, away for an errand from which it could not return in two, four, six, and might not in eight days, should, in my conscience, have subjected me to the rigor of a court-martial, and to the feeling that the attempt would deserve my summary dismissal. How, then, on that memorable day I personally behaved, is certainly not for me to report; but that my several surgeons have merited the highest praise, I have, to the credit of profession and patriotism, recorded. My satisfaction lies “in having done my duty,” so acknowledged by the General commanding in Special Orders, on being relieved in obedience to department orders, and worded:
headquarters, District of Florida, Jacksonville, Fla., March 6, 1864.In obedience to orders from Department Headquarters, Department of the South, Surgeon
Special Orders No. 35--Iv.