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[33] health. There were no hospital nurses except ignorant negroes, and almost the whole responsibility and labor fell upon Dr. Wheelwright, as assistant surgeon. The mortality was very great, for all the invalids of the Gulf Squadron were sent to the hospital. It soon became almost impossible to procure and retain servants; and he was obliged, in many cases, to perform the duties of surgeon and nurse for the dying, and then to render the last offices to the dead. The surgeon who succeeded the one first in charge took the fever himself, and the poor assistant was worse off than ever; but he continued to perform his duties with his usual energy and spirit, even after the time had passed when, by the usages of the navy, he had a right to ask to be relieved from the post. At last he was taken ill himself. The fever ran high, and for some days his life was despaired of; and though he finally rallied, he never afterwards enjoyed the same degree of health as before.

After his recovery from the fever, he had leave of absence for some months, which he employed in travelling in Europe and in visiting the hospitals of Paris and other Continental cities; and he then joined the Mediterranean Squadron in January, 1848. In February, 1849, he returned to this country; and in the spring of 1850 he was ordered to California, by way of the Isthmus. The agitation caused by the gold discoveries had extended to our naval vessels on that station, and they were for some time unable to move for want of crews: the men deserted, and not a few of the officers resigned. Dr. Wheelwright was attached to one of these vessels for many tedious months. As the pay of a naval officer then hardly equalled that of a waiter in a hotel, a visit to San Francisco was too expensive to be often undertaken; and Congress, too, evidently disapproved of such visits, and refused to increase the pay of the officers on that station. This monotonous course of life was at last ended by his being ordered to the Falmouth, in which vessel he visited Oregon and Vancouver's Island, and finally returned to the Atlantic States in February, 1852.

In the following August he joined at Norfolk the steamer

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