No. 8. reports of Surg. George E. Cooper, U. S. Army, medical Director.
Med. Director's office, Dept. Of the Cumberland, Atlanta, Ga., October 11, 1864.Sir: The report of the campaign of the Army of the Cumberland, beginning in the first week of May, 1864, and ending with the capture and occupation of Atlanta, is made from personal knowledge beginning on the 10th day of June, 1864. All information previous to that time is derived from the records of this office, and-from oral information given me by medical officers connected with the army. I joined the headquarters in the field near Big Shanty, Ga., having been prevented by malarial fever from reaching the main army sooner. Shortly after the action at Resaca I went to that place, arriving the morning after the army had advanced, and observed the preparations which had been made for the reception of the wounded. By my direction the hospital train accompanied me, and all wounded able to be transferred in it were sent to Chattanooga. At Resaca I was prostrated by fever and compelled to return to Chattanooga, where I remained until the actions near Dallas occurred, when I went to Kingston, and received the wounded and sick from the front, had them transferred to the rear, and then with the first opportunity joined headquarters in the field. The preparations for the campaign and the medical and surgical outfit had been made by Surg. Glover Perin, U. S. Army, who had been medical director of the Army of the Cumberland until relieved by me, and by his foresight and care everything had been prepared which could facilitate the medical officers in providing for the sick and wounded of the army. A large field hospital, consisting of 100 tents, with all the appurtenances, had been organized, and was following in the rear of the army, at a convenient distance, keeping the line of the Western and Atlantic Railroad; into this the major portion of the wounded and sick were received and treated, until transportation to Chattanooga could be furnished them or their condition would permit of it. This field hospital was first established at Ringgold, Ga., where it remained until May 16, 1864, when it was brought forward to Resaca, Ga., in order to receive and accommodate the soldiery wounded in that action. It there remained until the last days of June, when it was brought to Big Shanty, but was sent to the rear in a few days, in consequence of that position being uncovered by the flank movement of the armies under General Sherman, which caused the evacuation of Kenesaw Mountain by the rebel forces and gave us possession of Marietta, Ga. On the occupation of that town the field hospital was transferred there somewhere about the 8th of July, 1864. It remained in Marietta until after we had crossed the Chattahoochee River, when it was brought forward to Vining's Station, Ga., where it remained until the capture of Atlanta, when it was removed to that place. Here an eligible and convenient position was selected, the tents pitched, the sick received, and much labor expended on the grounds; but the mobile condition of the field hospital continued, for the position selected was unfortunately one which the engineers decided to be necessary for erecting a fortification on in the inner line of works; and the vast labor expended in cleaning up what had been used as a mule corral, so as to fit the ground for hospital  purposes, had to be repeated; and still more unfortunately the sick had to be transferred from a clean and comfortable position to one which was far less eligible and convenient. This hospital, under the charge of Asst. Surg. M. C. Woodworth, U. S. Volunteers, has been of the greatest benefit, and too much credit cannot be given that officer for his zeal, energy, and activity. In this field hospital every preparation which circumstances would permit of had been made for the proper alimentation of the sick and wounded. An acting commissary of subsistence had been detailed to accompany it, who kept it supplied amply with every delicacy procurable, and these, in addition to the articles supplied by the different sanitary commissions, enabled the surgeons on duty to furnish the patients with as good a character of diet as could be found in the permanent hospitals at the rear. By direction of Surgeon Perin, a train of some thirty wagons had been organized for the purpose of carrying medical supplies with the army. This, under the charge of Asst. Surg. J. W. Craig, Tenth Illinois Infantry, field medical purveyor, kept the army fully supplied with all the medical and hospital stores needed by the troops in the field. Never, from the hour of starting from Chattanooga till the present time, has this army wanted in medical stores, and always has there been a sufficiency on hand to meet any emergency. For the prompt furnishing of supplies we are much indebted to the Assistant Surgeon-General, R. C. Wood. It was only necessary to state that articles were required for the use of the troops at the front when orders were issued from the Assistant Surgeon-General's office, which had them forwarded with all the speed that possibly could be made. Ample hospital accommodations had been made at the rear for the reception of the sick and wounded of the armies operating in Georgia. These had been organized previous to the advance of the armies, and it was only necessary to increase their capacity by the addition of hospital tents to accommodate all who were brought from the front for treatment. It is impossible to speak of any of the actions which occurred in the present campaign as an entity, for in reality it has been a series of skirmishes and heavy actions from the advance on Tunnel Hill until the occupation of Atlanta. This campaign has in former years had no parallel. It may be regarded as a continued series of sieges, with the accompanying assaults and skirmishes, together with sallies on the part of the enemy, who attacking our troops were met and in nearly every case repulsed. Not a foot of ground was gained save by hard fighting, and the constant throwing up of works and intrenchments, which would be abandoned by our troops only to occupy others more in advance. It is stated that some 300 miles of rifle-pits have been constructed by our troops during the campaign. This necessarily demanded constant labor. The ground dug up from Tunnel Hill to Jonesborough will serve to indicate to sight-seekers in coming years the severe toil undergone by our troops in their advance into Northern Georgia. For four successive months the troops were fighting either in the trenches or on the march, and during that whole period there was constant musketry firing on the skirmish line. The average number of rounds of musketry ammunition fired by each man in the Army of the Cumberland exceeds 200. This, when it is considered how few men at any one time are engaged during a campaign like the one just ended,  can enable one to form an idea of its character. In consequence of the difficulty of procuring forage on a line so distant from its base as that on which this army operated, it was deemed necessary to cut down the amount of transportation to the lowest possible estimate. This induced the leaving at the rear not only superfluous articles, but in many cases what might be actually regarded as necessary ones. The expectation that the campaign would be a short and decisive one, as well as the orders issued to the effect, caused both officers and men to move in as light marching order as possible; but few had more with them than was actually carried on their persons. All cooking apparatus, save coffee-pots and frying-pans, with here and there a mess pan or camp kettle, were left behind at Chattanooga. The result of this was that the cooking was of the worst character and least conducive to digestion. This dearth of culinary apparatus entirely precluded all cooking by messes of companies, which is the only proper manner of preparing food furnished troops. The commissary supplies furnished until the occupation of Marietta consisted almost entirely of hard bread, salt pork or bacon, and fresh beef, with coffee and sugar. But little if any beans, rice, soap, vinegar, or other small rations were issued. After the occupation of Marietta, which was made the main depot, the commissary department had ready for issue an abundance of all kinds of supplies, but, owing to the indolence or ignorance of the commissaries, even then many of the troops were not furnished more freely than before. The weather in the early part of June was pleasant and comparatively cool. On the evening of the 10th of that month it commenced raining and continued so to do for ten successive days with but little intermission. The country became one vast bog, the roads were rendered almost impassable and their condition rendered any movements requiring accompanying transportation almost impracticable. At this time the Twentieth Corps on the extreme right had not as large a supply of medical stores as might have been desired, but was short of nothing absolutely required. This was, however, owing to the fact that the condition of the roads to Acworth, where the field medical purveyor then was, rendered the transportation of them almost impossible. After the cessation of the June rains the weather continued pleasant, with light summer showers until the middle of August, when heavy rains came on once more and continued for several days. The heat during the summer was at no time oppressive, nor did the thermometer show over 90° in the shade on the hottest days. The nights were delightfully cool and pleasant, and with but few exceptions a blanket was necessary to be used before morning. The country from Chattanooga to Acworth is mountainous, thence to Atlanta high and rolling, densely wooded, with but a small portion under cultivation. Small streams are numerous and several rivers cross the line of the campaign. The water from Chattanooga to the Etowah River is good, but much impregnated with lime. South of that stream the water is soft, clear, and delicious. Water on the whole line is abundant, and in few portions of the United States can more numerous springs of clear, cold, soft water be found than between the Etowah River and Atlanta. The health of the troops when entering upon the campaign was good, comparatively speaking. During the previous winter they had been encamped in the vicinity of Chattanooga with but few vegetables furnished them. Some, too, of the troops had been campaigning  in East Tennessee during a portion of the winter, and these had been furnished with marching rations only. This was the case with the Fourth Corps and a portion of the Twentieth. The Third Division, ofi the Twentieth Corps, was composed of either new troops, or those brought from the garrisons in the rear, and in this division more sickness occurred than in any other in the army. The men, unaccustomed to the rough usages of a campaign, wilted away, while the veteran troops around them were enjoying good health. Previous to entering upon the campaign every brigade in the army had been furnished with a medicine wagon filled and two Government wagons to carry canvas and appurtenances for the brigade field hospital. An operating staff had been detailed and everything systematized, so that during an action the wounded might receive prompt and efficient attention. The field hospitals were always kept well to the front, and in time of action pitched as near as the safety of the wounded would permit of. The ambulance corps, organized under the new system, had been untried, but the trial given it was scarcely a fair one, for the animals furnished it were of the poorest character. They consisted of the animals which had been almost starved at Chattanooga during the siege of that place, and had scarcely recuperated ere they were turned over by the quartermaster's department to the ambulance corps to perform the hardest duty in the army, and for which the strongest and best conditioned animals are required. For these mules and horses there is no time of rest, their services are needed as much during the night as in the day, and I will venture to assert that the animals belonging to the ambulance trains have passed over twice as much ground as those of any other train in the army. It was, too, with difficulty that suitable persons could be procured as stretcher-bearers. Regimental and company officers seem to have conceived the idea that weak, sickly, and trifling men are those best suited for detail in the corps. This at first caused the detail of many such, who had soon to be relieved in consequence of their incapacity. Many of the officers who cherished the above ideas by sad experience have learned that strong, healthy, and agile men are required to perform the duties belonging to the stretcher-bearer. The men of the ambulance corps have done their duty well and faithfully, and under the heaviest fire they have faltered not, but calmly and carefully carried the wounded to the ambulance depots. The ambulance wagons were, I am informed, not in good order when leaving Chattanooga, but by careful management on the part of the officers and by repairs made when practicable, they have served the campaign through and are now in condition to enter upon another. Until the middle of June the Fourteenth and Twentieth Army Corps were virtually without directors. Surg. R. H. Gilbert, U. S. Volunteers, who entered upon the campaign as medical director of the Fourteenth Corps, in consequence of illness, was compelled to go to the rear. Surgeon Otterson, U. S. Volunteers, in charge of the Twentieth Corps, resigned in the latter part of May and left when the army was in the neighborhood of Dallas, Ga. About the middle of June Surgs. C. W. Jones, U. S. Volunteers, and John W. Foye, U. S. Volunteers, were, respectively, assigned as medical directors of the Fourteenth and Twentieth Corps. Surg. J. Theodore Heard, U. S. Volunteers, has been the director of the Fourth Army Corps from the opening of the campaign, and still occupies the position. The condition of the medical department  of the Fourth Corps, owing to his energy, efficiency, and experience, far surpasses that of any other in the Army of the Cumberland. Ever ready for an emergency and anticipating any that might arise, he, with his able surgeons, have made the hospital department of the Fourth Corps a model for the rest of the army. I do not wish by this to disparage the Fourteenth or Twentieth Corps, but owing to the change of directors and the want of system when they assumed charge, the sick and wounded were not for a time as well or as promptly cared for as in the Fourth Corps. To this insinuation, however, there is an exception, the First Division, of the Fourteenth Corps, under the charge of Surgeon Marks, Tenth Wisconsin Volunteers,.and the hospital thereof, under the charge of Surg. Lucius J. Dixon, First Wisconsin Volunteers, will bear comparison with any division in this or any other army. The Twentieth Army Corps, since the assignment of Surg. John W. Foye, U. S. Volunteers, has been, as far as the medical department is concerned, all that could be desired, and his removal to another sphere of usefulness will be looked upon by all connected with that corps and this army as a misfortune. On passing through Kingston, Ga., to join the army, I found a deserted rebel hospital capable of accommodating some 250 patients. This was built on a most eligible position, and, being midway between the objective point of the campaign (Atlanta, Ga.) and Chattanooga, appeared to be a proper position for a general hospital. It was well constructed and required but little repairs to put it in order to receive patients. Consequently, directions were given to Surg. William M. Wright, Seventy-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, at that time on duty in Kingston, to fit it up and increase its capacity by the addition of fifty hospital tents. It has since served a most beneficial purpose, both as a receptacle for the wounded and sick of the cavalry troops stationed in the vicinity, as well as for the purpose of affording accommodation to the wounded in transit to Chattanooga who might be detained by the destruction of the railroad between Tunnel Hill and Kingston, which occurred on more than one occasion. A ground plan of this hospital, furnished by Surgeon Wright, accompanies this report. -- On joining the Army I found the hospitals divided into sections of brigades, and each brigade hospital in charge of a medical officer. Finding that this did not work smoothly, the brigade sections were consolidated into division sections, and these placed under the charge of one medical officer, who was made responsible for the property and supplies. This consolidation was found to be much more practicable and economical, both in rations and medical supplies, as well as in the care of the wounded. The innovation, at first frowned upon, proved serviceable in many respects, particularly when movements were contemplated, and the sick required transportation to the rear, as well during an action, for instead of being brought to the brigade hospital, where oftentimes the surgeons were overworked, the entire operating staff of the division was at the disposal of the brigade whose loss was the heaviest. The surgeons, too, had conceived the idea that their especial and only duty was to attend to the wounded of the regiment to which they belonged or at most to the brigade to which they were attached. The consolidation of the brigade hospitals avoided the evils arising from this idea, and all men belonging to the division were cared for regardless of the brigade to which they were attached.  The diseases from which the troops suffered were those incidental to a campaign long continued, viz, dysentery, diarrhea, fevers (malarial, typho-malarial, and typhoid), with a slight sprinkling of the exanthemata. During the rainy season lesions of the pulmonary viscera were common. Scurvy showed itself in an early part of the campaign, which became considerably aggravated during the time the troops lay in the trenches before Kenesaw and Atlanta. As soon, however, as the corn became edible the command showed marked indications of improvement. After the movement to the south of Atlanta, which resulted in its evacuation, the troops had access to the extensive corn-fields on the line of the march and improved rapidly, and on entering the city on the 7th of September there was little if any of the scorbutic taint perceptible, and the men were in finer condition and better able to. take the field than at any time since their leaving Chattanooga. The troops wounded at and near Buzzard Roost and Rocky Face Ridge were transferred by rail to the hospitals at Chattanooga. Those wounded near Resaca were treated for some days at the division hospitals and thence transferred to the general field hospital, where the most seriously wounded were retained until they were in condition to be conveyed in the hospital train to the hospitals at the rear. After the first action near Dallas, the wounded were brought in wagons to Kingston and thence by rail to Chattanooga. Those wounded in the last action near Dallas were brought in wagons to Acworth, where temporary hospitals were improvised until the bridge over the Etowah River was rebuilt, when the wounded were carried in freight cars to the rear. The wounded from the various assaults and skirmishes at and about Kenesaw were transferred from the division hospitals to Acworth and Big Shanty and thence by rail to Chattanooga. After the assault on the enemy's works at Kenesaw, on the 27th of June, orders were given to move the wounded to the rear in the course of twenty-four hours. The Army of the Cumberland hospitals were at the time from six to nine miles distant from Big Shanty, the nearest point on the railroad, where, too, the general field hospital then was. To obey this order it was necessary to avail ourselves of every class of transportation, ambulances and baggage wagons. There were at the time near 2,000 wounded men in this army, and these had to be carried from six to nine miles over roads rendered extremely rough by the rains which had inundated them and the heavy trains which were constantly passing over them. Knowing that Big Shanty would be uncovered by the time named, it was necessary to avail ourselves of every train of box-cars returning to the rear. The haste in which this transfer of wounded men was made caused, I doubt not, much suffering, and I regret to say that in some cases neither proper nor sufficient food was furnished them when en route to Chattanooga. This was owing principally, however, to detention on the road. The trip which was represented as being made in twelve hours at times occupied thirty-six and even more. The result was, the rations in these cases ran short. The attendants accompanying the sick in many cases were regardless of their duties. Though every train had a medical officer accompanying it, he could not see the wounded, save when stopping, in consequence of being unable to pass from car to car when they were in motion. This took the greater part of the nurses from under his eye, and then it was that the wants of the sick were disregarded, the more especially in procuring water for them. To avoid the recurrence  of this, I prevailed upon the Sanitary Commission to establish refreshment stations at Kingston, Resaca, and Dalton. They promptly placed their agents in the above-named places, and after this there was no more want of food, coffee, or water. The wounded transported in box-cars cannot be properly cared for in consequence of the impossibility of passing from car to car, save when at rest. The dressing of the wounded could be done only on the switches, when the cars were waiting for the down trains. The trains from the front generally passed up at night, and lanterns were not furnished them. Few, then, of the wounded were properly dressed from the time of leaving the front until they arrived at Chattanooga, and the condition of many arriving there was lamentable. I know that many complaints have been made of the manner in which the sick were transported, and of the condition in which some of them arrived at Chattanooga. It was, however, impossible to do better than was done. The conveniencies were few, the wounded many, and the stay-at-the-rear-fault-finding patriots in excess. Everything at our command was made use of to mitigate the sufferings of our troops, and it was only when the medical department had no control that the wounded were subjected to unnecessary suffering. The wounded from the actions between Marietta and the Chattahoochee River were sent to the field hospital at Marietta, and thence to the rear. Those from the actions in the front of Atlanta to the same hospital at Vining's Station, or were treated in the division hospitals. The wounded from Jonesborough were brought from that place to Atlanta in ambulances, and were, and are at present, treated in the division hospitals with a success seldom surpassed in the history of military surgery. The wounds met with in the campaign were caused by rifled and smooth-bored artillery, rifled musketry, throwing elongated projectiles, the saber, and bayonet. The wounds were caused at all distances, from the extreme range of artillery and musketry to handto-hand conflict. They were, too, of every character producible by the projectiles now used, from the lightest scratch to perfect dismemberment. I regret to state that the reports of the wounded prior to the 27th of June are [not] very reliable, owing to a want of care on the part of some of the medical officers in charge of division hospitals. This remark is particularly applicable to the reports of the Third Division, of the Twentieth Army Corps, and to the Second Division, of the Fourteenth Corps. The medical officers are not to be blamed for this, as they were informed by Surgeon Otterson, medical director of the corps, at the opening of the campaign, that no reports would be required, as no transportation for desks was furnished them. Every endeavor has been made to have them as nearly correct as possible, but they are still more or less unreliable. The number of wounded reported by tabular statement as having been received into the brigade and division hospitals at the front during the campaign is 14,450. The number reported by consolidating the weekly reports is 15,559. This discrepancy may be accounted for by many slight wounds not having been reported in the tabular statement. The number reported as having died from wounds in the hospitals at the front is, by tabular statement, 904, by consolidated reports, 1,067. The number of amputations performed is reported as 1,286; the number of exsections, 302; the number of other operations, 790. Chloroform is reported as having been used in 1,255 cases; but this  is far below the actual number, as it was freely used in all cases where examination of wounds was to be made, and when painful dressings were to be applied. In no case has any injurious effects resulted from its use. The number of sick received into the division hospitals is reported as .43,153. The number reported as transferred to general hospitals is 26,184. The number reported as having died in the division hospitals from wounds and disease is 1,274. From the fact of the army having been constantly on. the move until the occupation of Atlanta and necessity arising therefrom of being compelled to transfer to hospitals at the rear all the seriously wounded, it was impossible to learn the results of operations performed on the field. It was only after the battle of Jonesborough, September 1, 1864, that the operating surgeons had the opportunity of treating the wounded till the results were determined. The wounded in this action were brought from the field to Atlanta some three days after the action, and, with the exception of the men of the Second Division, Fourteenth Army Corps, were placed in hospital tents. The wounded of that division were placed in the Atlanta Medical College, which had been used by the rebels as a hospital. The rooms are large and airy and well ventilated. The men at the time of being wounded were in excellent health, with no taint of scurvy perceptible. The weather from the time of the action till now, has been delightful; not warm enough to oppress nor cold enough to render the closing of the tent openings or windows necessary at night. The food furnished the wounded was ample and of the best character, all the necessary delicacies were at the disposal of the surgeons; generous diet and stimulants were used from the moment the wounded were placed in the wards. The hospitals were kept exceedingly clean. The dressings were performed in almost every case by the surgeons connected with the hospitals, and in the Second Division, of the Fourteenth Corps, exclusively so. I transmit the report of Surgeon Batwell, Fourteenth Michigan Infantry, in charge of the Second Division, Fourteenth Corps, hospital. The results shown by this report will, I think, bear favorable comparison with any military surgery, and reflect great credit on the medical officers of the division. I send, too, the report of Surgeon Batwell of the result of experiments made with a preparation called “phenol sodique” sent to me to be used in order to test its merits. From my own observations, as well as from what I can learn, it has proved to be an admirable adjuvant in the treatment of flabby wounds and in those implicating the spongy bones. The medical officers of the Army of the Cumberland have performed their duties in this long and onerous campaign in a manner highly creditable to themselves and beneficial to the sick and wounded soldiery. The experience of three years having taught them the requirements of military surgeons, the work was well and promptly performed. Unfortunately, many of these valuable officers having completed their terms of service are about being mustered out, and their places will be filled by men who have seen little, if any, service in the field. Accompanying this I transmit the classified returns of wounds and injuries, and the reports of the corps directors. The list of wounded will be forwarded as soon as finished.
Geo. E. Cooper, Surgeon, U. S. Army, Medical Director. Asst. Adjt. Gen., Dept. of the Cumberland.
Hdqrs. Department of the Cumberland, medical Director's office, Atlanta, Ga., September 15, 1864.Comdg. Department of the Cumberland: Sir: Herewith I forward a tabular statement of casualties in the Army of the Cumberland--from May 1, 1864, to September 6, 1864. Respectfully, your obedient servant,
Maj. Gen. G. H. Thomas
Maj. Gen. G. H. Thomas
Geo. E. Cooper, Surgeon, U. S. Army, Medical Director.
Geo. E. Cooper, Surg., U. S. Army, Medical Director, Dept. of the Cumberland.
Atlanta, Ga., September 15, 1864.