was to place this department of the army on a footing which endured, with the most profitable of results to the service, till the close of the war.
I vividly remember my first look into one of these field hospitals.
It was, I think, on the 27th of November, 1863, during the Mine Run Campaign
, then commanding the Tiird Corps
, was fighting the battle of Locust Grove
, and General Warren
, with the Second Corps, had also been engaged with the enemy, and had driven him from the neighborhood of Robertson's Tavern, in the vicinity of which the terrific Battle of the Wilderness
began the following May.
Near this tavern the field hospital of Warren
's Second Division had been located, and into this I peered while my battery stood in park not far away, awaiting orders.
The surgeon had just completed an operation.
It was the amputation of an arm about five inches below the shoulder, the stump being now carefully dressed and bandaged.
As soon as the patient recovered from the effects of the ether, the attendants raised him to a sitting posture on the operating-table.
At that moment the thought of his wounded arm returned to him, and, turning his eyes towards it, they met only the projecting stub.
The awful reality dawned upon him for the first time.
An arm had gone forever, and he dropped backwards on the table in a swoon.
Many a poor fellow like him brought to the operator's table came to consciousness only to miss an arm or a leg which perhaps he had begged in his last conscious moments to have spared.
But the medical officers
first mentioned decided all such cases, and the patient had only to submit.
At Peach-Tree Creek
, Col. Thomas Reynolds
of the Western army was shot in the leg, and, while the surgeons were debating the propriety of amputating it, the colonel, who was of Irish birth, begged them to spare it, as it was very valuable, being an imported leg
,--a piece of wit which saved the gallant officer his leg, although he became so much of a cripple that he was compelled to leave the service.