would be speedily ended no one thought of such a thing as building permanent structures for hospital purposes.
But this condition of affairs soon after changed.
Preparations for war were made on a grander scale.
The Army of the Potomac, under the moulding hands of McClellan
, was assuming form, and the appointment by him, Aug. 12, 1861, of Surgeon Charles S. Tripler
as medical director of that army indicated a purpose of having a medical department set on foot and put in completeness for active service.
Let us pause and glance at the situation as he found it, and we may, perhaps, the better appreciate the full magnitude of the task which he had before him.
Army Regulations were the written law to which it was attempted to have everything conform as far as possible.
But when these regulations were drafted, there was no expectation of such a war as finally came upon us, and to attempt to confine so large an army as then existed to them as a guide was as impossible and absurd as for the full-grown man to wear the suit of clothes he cast off at ten years.
“ New times demand new measures and new men,” and so in certain directions Army Regulations had to be ignored.
For example, they provided only for the establishment of regimental and general hospitals.
A regimental hospital is what its name indicates — the hospital of a particular regiment.
But if such a hospital became full or received some patients whose ailments were not likely to submit readily to treatment, such cases were sent to a General Hospital
, that is, one into which patients were taken regardless of the regiment to which they belonged.
But in these early war times, in the absence of a system, any patient who was able could, at his pleasure, leave one general hospital and go to another for any reason which seemed sufficient to him, or he could desert the service entirely.
By general orders issued from the war department May 25, 1861, governors of States were directed to appoint a