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Title: Hospital Transports - A memoir of the Embarkation of the Sick and Wounded from - the Peninsula of Virginia in the Summer of 1862
Author: Olmsted, Frederick Law
Language: English
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                          HOSPITAL TRANSPORTS.

                                A MEMOIR
                                _of the_
                            IN THE SUMMER OF

             _Compiled and Published at the request of the
                         Sanitary Commission._


                          TICKNOR AND FIELDS.

      Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1863, by

                          TICKNOR AND FIELDS,

    in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the District of

                           UNIVERSITY PRESS:
                      WELCH, BIGELOW, AND COMPANY,


                           TO THE MEMORIES OF

                          J. M. GRYMES, M. D.,

sometime Surgeon in charge of the Hospital Transport _Daniel Webster_,
and, at the time of his death, Surgeon to the temporary _Home_ for
disabled soldiers, of the Sanitary Commission at Washington;—

                      WILLIAM PLATT, JUNIOR, ESQ.,

late a Relief Agent of the Sanitary Commission, who died from the effect
of prolonged exposure and excessive exertion in pushing succor to the
wounded during and after the battles of South Mountain, Crampton's Gap,
and Antietam;—

              Lieut.-Col. JOSEPH BRIDGHAM CURTIS, U.S.V.,

formerly of the Engineer Corps of the Central Park of New York,
afterwards of the central staff of the Sanitary Commission, who fell
while leading his regiment to the assault of the rebel works at
Fredericksburg, December, 1862;—

                        RUDD C. HOPKINS, M. D.,

formerly Superintendent of the Lunatic Asylum of Ohio, lately a General
Inspector of the Sanitary Commission, and who died in its service, while
on the river passage from Memphis to Cincinnati;—

                       MRS. FANNY SWAN WARRINER,

who bore heroically to the end a woman's part in war, having died at
Louisville, Kentucky, on her way home from the Head-quarters Relief
Station of the Sanitary Commission with the Army of the Tennessee,—of
disease there contracted;—

                       DAVID BOSWELL REID, M. D.,

Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh; Fellow of the Royal College of
Physicians of London; Member of the Medico-Chirurgical Society of St.
Petersburg; formerly Director of Ventilation at the Houses of Parliament
of Great Britain; late Professor of Physiology and Hygiene at the
University of Wisconsin; at the time of his death, Special Inspector of
the Ventilation of Hospitals of the Sanitary Commission;—and

                     Surgeon ROBERT WARE, U. S. V.,

for several years physician in charge of the largest Dispensary District
in Boston, afterwards a General Inspector of the Sanitary Commission,
and Surgeon of its Relief Stations at Yorktown, White House, and
Berkeley, lastly Surgeon of Volunteers. He fell at his post in the works
at Washington, North Carolina, during its bombardment by the rebels,
March, 1863.


The Sanitary Commission, grateful for the generous confidence reposed in
it by the public, would be glad to meet and justify that confidence by a
circumstantial account of its operations in field and hospital, from the
first day of its existence to the present. It might, perhaps, without
undue boasting, show such a picture of what has been accomplished as
would stimulate, to the last degree, the interest and the liberality of
loyal hearts, if this were required. But the immense mass of details
which such an account must involve, would prove nearly as laborious in
the reading as in the performance, overwhelming rather than enlightening
all who have not been personally engaged in the work. The intense
interest which the service inspires in those devoted to it, lightens
what might, under other circumstances, seem wearisome duties; but a
minute description of the ceaseless round of consultations,
examinations, correspondence, journeys, accounts, distributions,
required of the Commission as trustee of the public bounty, could not be
expected to prove interesting to others.

The most that the Commission can at present be called upon to offer, or
the public be likely to accept, is such brief accounts of single
sections in the various departments of its labor, as may indicate the
general method and spirit extending through the whole. In accordance
with this plan, from time to time, the Commission has published reports
covering a single battle-field, or a term of one round of visits to the
hospitals, or the results of its arrangements for the care of disabled
and discharged soldiers for a stated period. There is one branch of the
service, however, which has as yet had no such public record,—that of
the Hospital Transports. In order to supply this omission in some
measure, the Commission has caused to be placed in the hands of a
manager of the "Woman's Central Army Relief Association of New York," a
quantity of letters and other papers, containing observations made at
the time, and on the spot, by those in its service who assisted in the
embarkation and care of the sick and wounded on the peninsula of
Virginia in 1862. Passages from these have been selected and arranged
with a view to give within moderate compass as many particulars as may
be necessary to show the scope of the enterprise, and the position which
it held as an aid to the government, together with the difficulties and
the success, the disappointments and satisfactions, with which it was
attended. The plan is limited to the Atlantic hospital transports, and
to the period of embarkation of the patients upon them, for the sake of
compactness and completeness in the grouping of incidents. A similar
service in the Western rivers the same year was larger in its scope, and
in some of its arrangements more satisfactory, but it was at the same
time less homogeneous in character.

For the style of the letters quoted, this only need be said: they were,
for the most part, addressed to intimate friends, with no thought that
they could ever go beyond them, or, as in the case of those addressed by
the Secretary to the President of the Commission, were in the nature of
familiar and confidential reports; nearly all were written hastily, in
some chance interruption to severe labor,—often with a pencil, while
passing in a boat from one vessel to another. Passages may be found
which are not merely descriptive of the Hospital Transport service, but
they contain thoughts springing from the occasion, and which will serve
to fasten pictures of scenes and circumstances with which that service
was associated, and which are now historical.[1]

Footnote 1:

  The letters were all written by two officers of the Commission and six
  ladies serving with them. As the different writers are quoted from in
  succession, and the same occurrences are often described from more
  than one point of view, a capital letter at the head of a paragraph
  will indicate the change from one writer to another. The officers will
  be known by the letters A. and B.; the ladies, by the letters M. and

It should be understood that the account is not intended to be complete
in any respect, and that no attempt has been made to give public credit
to individuals for their services, whatever these may have been. It is
known that to do so in some cases where public gratitude is most
deserved would give pain; to do so in all cases would greatly swell the
bulk of the volume. In general terms only it may be said, that among the
surgeons who freely gave their aid in the enterprise were numbered some
of the leading members of the profession,—among those who served as
administrative officers, matrons, and nurses, the most honored
historical families of New England, New York, New Jersey, and
Pennsylvania were represented. The class termed Ward-masters was mainly
composed of medical students of two years, with some young men of
Philadelphia who had had previous experience in caring for sick soldiers
in the noble local charities of that city. It included, also, some
students of theology. The responsibility for the detail of care of the
patients was chiefly with this class, and the devotedness, pliability,
and practical talent with which they generally met this responsibility
was too remarkable to be passed without at least this simple reference
to it as one of a class of facts of the war.

It is a secondary object of the recital to make evident, from narrations
of actual experience, what is sometimes required for supplying the
unavoidable deficiencies of government service in emergencies. Not to
have sprung at once into a thorough practical knowledge of what the
dread contingencies of war require, is no just cause of reproach to a
peaceful people like ourselves, who, meaning peace, sought only to
"ensue it"; but not to thoroughly learn our duty under such an
experience as we are passing through, would indeed bring shame upon our

It is no common nation's task that we have undertaken, and only craven
souls will lose heart in finding that it cannot be light or short in the
sacrifices which it demands of us. True and far-seeing lovers of their
country, as they regard the sufferings of those uncomplaining men who
fought for us in the Peninsula,—men who, though perhaps but green
soldiers in the field, proved, one and all, heroes upon the bed of pain
and in the hour of death, will be led to the reflection, "This is what
it costs a republic to have nursed rebellion tenderly at its breast." We
know that the barbarous spirit with which the chances of war first were
dared in this gambling scheme of reckless ambition, will prolong it,
when resistance to the law can no longer avail for anything but the
gratification of the personal vindictive hate of the disappointed
conspirators. And we know that if we do well the work the pecuniary cost
of which we are throwing so heavily upon our posterity, this will be the
last of such schemes. The more we feel its cost ourselves, the more
resolute shall we be that, when done, this work shall have been done
once for all. The more ready shall we be to meet whatever sacrifice it
may yet require of us; the more ready to truly say, "Our loyalty is
without conditions; success at this point or that, this year or next, we
do not ask; we have elected our leaders, and we accept what they have
the ability to give us. It is enough that in this nation, standing
firmly upon its declaration of equal rights to all, no gleam of peace
can ever be seen to fall upon a rebel in arms."

The deepest solicitude that all unnecessary suffering should be avoided
in carrying on the war, is not in the least degree inconsistent with
this sentiment, provided only it be guided and constrained by a true
appreciation of the duties and the necessities of war. On the contrary,
patriotism and humanity have one origin, and each strengthens the other
in every heart. Whatever, then, leads the public to truly comprehend
what the rebellion costs, and at the same time inculcates a right spirit
of humane provision against the unnecessary suffering of war, must
foster a sound and healthy public sentiment.

Such, it is hoped, may be the influence of this little volume, to the
introduction of which only this further explanation will be required by
the reader.

A sudden transfer of the scene of active war from the high banks of the
Potomac to a low and swampy region, intersected with a net-work of
rivers and creeks, early in the summer of 1862, required appliances for
the proper care of the sick and wounded which did not appear to have
been contemplated in the government arrangements. Seeing this, with the
approval of the Medical Bureau, a proposal was made to the
Quartermaster-General to allow the Sanitary Commission to take in hand
some of the transport steamboats of his department, of which a large
number were at that time lying idle, to fit them up and furnish them in
all respects suitably for the reception and care of sick and wounded
men, providing surgeons and other necessary attendance, without cost to
government. After tedious delays and disappointments of various
kinds,—one fine large boat having been assigned, partially furnished by
the Commission, and then withdrawn,—an order was at length received,
authorizing the Commission to take possession of any of the government
transports, not in actual use, which might be at that time lying at

The only vessel then lying at Alexandria stanch enough for the ocean
passage from Virginia to New York or Boston, proved to be the _Daniel
Webster_, an old Pacific Coast steamer of small capacity. She had been
recently used for transporting troops, and had been "stripped of
everything movable but dirt,"—so that the labor of adapting her to the
purpose in view was not a light one.

This vessel was assigned to the Commission on the 25th of April.
Provisional engagements had previously been made, in New York and
Philadelphia, with the persons afterwards employed as her hospital
company. These were telegraphed for, the moment the order was received,
and the refitting of the ship commenced,—at which point we turn to the
narratives of those engaged in the work.

                          HOSPITAL TRANSPORTS.

                           TABLE OF CONTENTS

                          CHAPTER I.
                          CHAPTER II.
                          CHAPTER III.
                          CHAPTER IV.
                          CHAPTER V.
                          CHAPTER VI.
                          APPENDIX A.
                          APPENDIX B.
                          APPENDIX C.
                          APPENDIX D.
                          TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES

                               CHAPTER I.

                              (A.) Hospital Transport _Daniel Webster_,
                                      Cheeseman's Creek, April 30, 1862.

I received General Meigs's order under which this ship came into our
hands on Friday. She was then at Alexandria, and could not be got over
the shoals to Washington. It was not till near night that I was able to
get a lighter, and this, after one trip, was taken off to carry
reinforcements to McDowell at Fredericksburg. I succeeded before
daylight of Saturday in getting a tug at work, and by the next morning,
Sunday, had her hold full. At eleven o'clock got the hospital company on
board, but the commissaries failed in their engagements, and at last I
had to send off a foraging-party at Alexandria for beef. Finally at four
o'clock, D., who had gone after E., and E., who had gone after beef,
arrived simultaneously from different directions. With E. came the beef,
and we at once got under way.

We had six medical students, twenty men nurses (volunteers all), four
surgeons, four ladies, a dozen contrabands (field hands), three
carpenters, and half a dozen miscellaneous passengers. There were,
besides, five of us members of the Sanitary Commission and of the
central staff, with one of the Philadelphia associates, eight military
officers, ninety soldiers (convalescents, returning to their regiments),
some quartermaster's mechanics, and a short ship's crew and officers.
The ship has a house aft, with state-rooms for thirty, and an
old-fashioned packet-saloon below, with state-rooms opening out of it;
and all forward of the engine-rooms, a big steerage, or "'tween decks,"
which had been fitted with shelves, some of them fifteen feet deep, in
which the soldiers had been carried to the Peninsula, packed in layers.

I organized all our Commission people at sunset on Sunday, in two
watches, sea-fashion; appointed watch-officers, and have worked since,
night and day, refitting ship. We broke up all the transport
arrangements,—they were in a filthy condition,—thoroughly scraped,
washed, and scrubbed the whole ship from stem to stern, inside and out;
whitewashed the steerage; knocked away the bulkheads of the wings of the
engine-room section, so as to get a thorough draft from stem to stern;
then set to fitting and furnishing new bunks; started a new house on
deck, forward; made and fitted an apothecary's shop; and when we arrived
at Cheeseman's Creek were ready for patients.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(M.) It was a bright day, the river peaceful and shining. Just as we
started, the little gunboat _Yankee_ passed up, bringing, all on a
string, five rebel craft which she had just taken in the Rappahannock.
Late in the afternoon we passed the "stone fleet," eight boats, all
ready to sink in the channel, in case the _Merrimack_ should try to run
up the Potomac. The rebels having taken up all the buoys, at dark we had
to come to anchor.

Sunday, the first day, was gone. As for us, we had spent it, sitting on
deck, sewing upon a hospital flag, fifteen by eight, and singing hymns
to take the edge off of this secular occupation. Just after we had
anchored, a chaplain was discovered among the soldiers; and in half an
hour we got together for service, and an "unprepared" discourse upon
charity, much like unprepared discourses in general. Quite another thing
was the singing of the contrabands, who all came in and stood in a row
so black, at the dark end of the cabin, that I could see neither eyes
nor teeth. But they sung heartily, and everybody followed them.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(A.) _Cheeseman's Creek._—I went ashore to report our arrival to the
Medical Director. On our way up the harbor,—a shallow river-mouth, with
low, pine-covered banks, in which there are now about four hundred
steamboats and small transport-craft,—I hailed the steamboat _Daniel
Webster_ No. 2, which carries the —— Regiment New York Volunteers, and
let the Colonel know that his wife was among our nurses. This morning I
received his acknowledgments in the form of a check for $1,000 for the
Commission, accompanied by what was still better, a note of the most
hearty and appreciative recognition of what the Commission had done for
the relief of the soldiers.

Picking our way among all the craft, and keeping out of the way of the
tugs and tenders which were flying about, we landed on a large meadow
where were a number of wall-tents, one labelled "Office of
Quartermaster's Department"; another, "Telegraph Office"; another,
"Post-Office"; another, "Office of Land Transportation"; another,
"Harbor-Master," &c., &c. One contained a number of prisoners, brought
in the day before, and, of course, well-guarded. Ordnance and forage
barges lay along the shore, with a few big guns, and piles of shot and
shell, just landed. The ground was crowded;—orderlies holding horses;
lounging, dirty soldiers; idlers and fatigue-parties at work in relays;
sentries; Quartermaster's people, white and black; and a hundred army
wagons loading with forage and biscuit-boxes from the barges. I went at
once to Colonel Ingalls, at the Quartermaster's office. He was kind,
prompt, decisive; horses were ordered for us, and we soon rode off
through a swamp-forest, the air full of the roar of falling trees and
the shouts of teamsters and working-parties of soldiers, the former
trying to navigate their wagons, and the latter making corduroy roads
for them. The original country roads had all been used up; it was
difficult even to ford across them, when we had occasion to do so, on
horseback. The army wagons, each drawn by six mules, and with very light
loads, were jerked about frightfully. We passed many wrecks, and some
horses which had sunk and been smothered. Some wagons were loaded with
gun-beds and heavy rope screens for embrasures; and we saw eight or ten
mortars, each on a truck by itself, and drawn by from sixteen to
twenty-four horses. At the first open ground we found cavalry
exercising; then a cavalry camp, then a bit of wood, then rising dry
ground, and our road ran through more camps. Then, coming in the midst
of these camps, to the crest of a low swell, we opened suddenly a grand
view of the valley of York River, a country something like the valley of
the Raritan, at Eagleswood and opposite, but with less wood, more piny
and more diversified, the river much broader, a mile and a half,
perhaps, across. On the slope before us—nearly flat, with an inclination
toward the river—was a space of several hundred acres, clear land, and a
camp for some twenty to forty thousand men; shelter-tents, and all
alive. It was a magnificent scene, the camp and all beyond, as we came
upon it suddenly—right into it, at full gallop. The military "effect"
was heightened now and then by a crashing report of artillery.

In the midst of the camp we came upon a long rack,—a pole on crotched
sticks,—at which were fastened a score or more of horses. "We must stop
here," said Dr. C. "They don't let you ride in." And that was all to
show that we had reached Head-quarters.

It was an aristocratic quarter of the town, when you came to look at the
clean tents and turf, but there were no flags or signs to distinguish
it. We walked to the tent of the Medical Director, and just then there
came another of those crashing reports. "They have been keeping that up
all night," said the Doctor. "That isn't the enemy?" "Yes." "Is he so
near?" "O yes! we are quite within range here."

The medical arrangements seem to be deplorably insufficient. The
Commission is at this time actually distributing daily of hospital
supplies much more than the government.[2]

Footnote 2:

  See Appendix A.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(B.) _May 1st._ No patients on board yet; ship getting a final polish.
Got up early and found the _Elizabeth_ coming along-side for stores. The
Commission has here at present, besides the _Daniel Webster_, one or two
store-ships, and the _Wilson Small_, a boat of light draught, fitted up
as a little hospital, to run up creeks and bring down sick and wounded
to the transports. She is under the care of Dr. C., and has her little
supply of hospital clothing, beds, food, &c., always ready for chance
service. There is also a well-supplied storehouse ashore.

In sight are the abandoned rebel quarters at Shipping Point, now used as
hospitals by one of our divisions; a number of log-huts finely built,
but on low and filthy ground, surrounded by earthworks, which are rained
on half the time and fiercely shone on the other half, and from which
are exhaling deadly vapors all the time, a death-place for scores of our
men who are piled in there, covered with vermin, dying with their
uniforms on and collars up,—dying of fever....

I attended this afternoon to the systematic arrangement of the
commissariat stores down aft, sent a telegram for more supplies to
Baltimore, arranged for stowing the contrabands and putting bunks in the
new deck-ward, and then put two ladies and a nice supply of oranges,
tea, lemons, wine, &c., &c. on a small boat, and started them with —— to
Ship Point Hospital, where four poor fellows died last night. Of course
there is that vitally important medical etiquette to observe, here as
elsewhere, and we must approach carefully, when we would not frustrate
our own plans;—and so it is. "——, suppose you go ashore and ask whether
it will be agreeable to have the ladies come over and visit the
hospital,—just to walk through and talk with the men." So the ladies
have gone "to talk with the men," with spirit-lamps, and farina, and
lemons, and brandy, and clean clothes, and expect to have an improving
conversation. After the party was off, sent orders to Fort Monroe for
special supplies; received Dr. Tripler, who dined with us; furnished
wine, tea, bread, to a surgeon who had been told that the Commission's
flag was flying here, and had come seven miles across the swamps, and
rowed out to us in a small boat to try for these things.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(M.) By dark the _Wilson Small_ came along-side with our first patients,
thirty-five in number, who were carefully lifted on board and swung
through the hatches on their stretchers. In half an hour they had all
been tea'd and coffeed and refreshed by the nurses, and shortly after
were all undressed and put to bed clean and comfortable, and in a droll
state of grateful wonder; the bad cases of fever furnished with sponges
and cologne-water for bathing, and wine and water or brandy-toddy for
drinking, and a man to watch them, and ward-masters up and down the
wards, and a young doctor in the apothecary's shop, and to-day (May 3d)
they are all better....

Meantime additional supplies arrived from Washington, Baltimore, and
Fortress Monroe, and a surgeon and nurses of our company were busy daily
on shore at the Ship Point Hospital, dispensing stores, and doing what
they could for the poor fellows there, who seemed to us in want of
everything.... One hundred and ninety patients have now come on board;
eighteen miles some of them say they have been brought in the ambulances
(large statement of exhausted fellows jolted over corduroy roads).... We
ladies arrange our days into three watches, and then a promiscuous one
for any of us, as the night work may demand, after eight o'clock. Take
Sunday, for instance.

It was ——'s and ——'s watch from seven to twelve. So they were up and had
hot breakfast ready in our pantry, which is amidships between the
forward and aft wards; ward-masters on the port and starboard sides for
each ward, to watch the distribution of the food, and no promiscuous
rushing about allowed; the number for coffee and the number for tea
marked in the ward diet-books under the head of Breakfast, and the
number for house-diet, or for beef-tea and toddy, &c., marked also; so
that when the Hospital company learns to count straight,—an achievement
of some difficulty, apparently,—there will be no opportunity for
confusion. After breakfast we all assembled in the forward or sickest
ward, and Dr. G. read the simple prayers for those at sea and for the
sick. Our whole company and all the patients were together. It was good
to have the service then and there. Our poor sick fellows lay all about
us in their beds and listened quietly. As the prayer for the dying was
finished, a soldier close by the Doctor had ended his strife.

After twelve, our watch came on, and till four we gave out clean
clothes, handkerchiefs, cologne, clothes to the nurses, and served the
dinner, consulting the diet-books again. The house-diet, which was all
distributed from our pantry, was nice thick soup and rice-pudding, and
we made, over our spirit-lamps, the beef-tea and gruels for special
cases. So with little cares came four o'clock, and with it clean hands
and our own dinner; after which the other two ladies came on for the
last watch, which included tea. Then there was beef-tea and punch to be
made for use during the night; and so the day for us ended with our
sitting in the pantry and talking over evils to be remedied, and should
the soiled clothes be sewed up in canvas-bags and trailed behind the
ship, or hung at the stern, or headed up in barrels and steam-washed
when the ship got in? We crawled up into our bunks that night amid a
tremendous firing of big guns, and woke up in the morning to the
announcement that Yorktown was evacuated.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(M.) While we were lying anchored off Ship Point, down in the Gulf, New
Orleans had surrendered quietly, and round the corner from us Fort Macon
had been taken. What was it all to us, so long as the beef-tea was ready
at the right moment?

                              CHAPTER II.

(A.) _May 5th._ On Sunday the _Ocean Queen_, coming up from Old Point,
grounded about five miles off the harbor, and I went down and put a few
beds and men on board to assume a footing. She had been brought to Old
Point with the intention of using her to amuse the _Merrimack_, and had
therefore been stripped of everything not necessary to the subsistence
of the small crew.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(M.) On the way back, at eight in the evening, found that a great part
of the army fleet, three hundred or more steamboats full of life, all
before scattered for miles about the harbor, had been collected in close
order and steam up. A number of heavy steamers swept past also, each
with a tow a quarter of a mile long, making on the dark evening a long
line of light and life. It was strange to see these floating cities melt
away; the colored lights from the rigging going out one by one, and the
bands and bugle-calls growing faint and far.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(A.) I had sent the _Webster_ to sea, and with Mrs. —— and sister, B.,
and some two or three others, started in the _Small_ to go to the
telegraph and mail, and to bury the body of a patient who had died in
the night. It was raining hard. When we reached the shore there was no
post-office, no telegraph,—nothing of the military station left, except
some wagons and transports. Our storehouse was a mile back. I left a
portion of our party to move the goods from it on board the barge, and
started in the _Small_ for Yorktown, to which I presumed Head-quarters
would have been moved. On getting out of the harbor, we saw that the
_Queen_ was under way. It turned out that she had been ordered to
Yorktown by the Harbor-Master. As she was lying-to, to sound the
channel, we came up with her, and I went on board, after which—the
_Small_ going ahead to feel the way—we had a magnificent sail to
Yorktown, the river so full of vessels that it was like getting up the
Thames, only the lead was constantly going, "By the mark, five! A
quarter less six!" and so on. Noble river! and a noble ship! Ahead,
above all the fleet of three hundred transports, there were a dozen
men-of-war. With our hospital flag at the fore, we slowly but boldly
passed through the squadron, and came to anchor, the biggest ship of
all, in the advance,—only one gunboat, as a picket-guard, being above
us. I went ashore with the Captain and the young men, but could find no
telegraph, and no officer of the general staff; and as many men had been
killed and wounded by the torpedo-traps,—infernal machines set by the
rebels,—we were not allowed to enter the fortified lines of Yorktown.
So, picking up a hospital cot and stretcher left by the enemy, I took
boat again to return to the ship, leaving the Captain and others ashore.
As I pulled out through the vessels at the wharf, I saw to my surprise
two small "stern-wheel" steamboats coming along-side the _Queen_, one on
each side. Hastening on board, I found that these boats were loaded with
sick men, whom an officer in charge was about to throw off upon the
_Queen_. They were the sick of regiments which had been ordered suddenly
forward last night, and which were at this very moment engaged in the
battle of Williamsburg; we could hear the roar of artillery. They had
been sent during the night by ambulances to the shore of Wormley's
Creek, where a large number had been left, the officer assured me, lying
on the ground in the rain, without food or attendance. His orders were
to take them upon the "stern-wheelers," as many as both would carry,
find the _Ocean Queen_, and put them upon her. I protested. The _Queen_
at present was a mere hulk, without beds, bedding, or food even for her
crew, and without a surgeon. It was obvious that the men were, many of
them, very ill. Some were, in fact, in a dying state.

They were largely typhoid-fever patients; and having been for
twenty-four hours without nourishment, wet from exposure to the storm,
and many of them racked by the motion of the ambulances over those
frightful swamp corduroy roads (which I described the other day) into
delirium, I was sure that many would die if they long failed to receive
most careful medical treatment, with stimulants, nourishment, and
warmth, no one of which could at that time be got for them on the
_Queen_. The officer, however, insisted. I determined to go ashore to
look for a surgeon, or if possible to find Colonel Ingalls, the
transport quartermaster, a gentleman, and a most energetic and sagacious
officer. I put the two ship's officers each at a gangway, with
instructions to let no one come on board till I returned, and to use
force, if necessary. I found a surgeon—a civilian—who was willing to
help us, and pulled back, finding to my disgust, when I reached the
ship, that the miserable first officer had given way, and every man who
could walk of the patients had been taken on board. The glorious women
had hunted out a barrel containing some Indian meal from some dark place
where it had been lost sight of, in the depths of the ship, and were
already ladling out hot gruel, which they had made of it; and the poor,
pale, emaciated, shivering wretches were lying anywhere, on the cabin
floors, crying with sobbing, trembling voices, "God bless you, Miss! God
bless you!" as it was given to them from the ship's deck-buckets. I
never saw such misery or such gratitude. My rebel stretcher came at once
in play, and, after distributing forty dollars among the half-mutinous,
superstitious, beastly Portuguese crew and pantry servants, I got them
at work bringing on the patients who were too feeble to be led on board.
It was a slow and tedious process. By the blessing of God, before it was
over, B., with Dr. Ware,—the two very best men I ever saw for such an
emergency,—came with the _Elizabeth_ from Cheeseman's Creek, and the
Captain with the students from the shore. There were straw, bed-sacks
and blankets, besides stimulants and medicines, on the _Elizabeth_, and
the Captain's authority soon added all the ship's force to the working
party on her, filling beds and hoisting out bales of blankets. B. went
on shore, found a rebel cow at pasture, shot her, and brought off the
beef, with another surgeon. By ten o'clock at night, every sick man was
in a warm bed, and had received medical treatment; and beef-tea and
milk-punch had been served to all who required it. But for three of them
even the women could do nothing but pray, and close their eyes.

At half past ten, I went aboard the _Small_, intending to run to
Fortress Monroe for additional supplies. It was stormy and thick, and I
could not induce the Captain to go out till daylight. We reached Old
Point about nine, A. M. I got breakfast in the hotel, and then to
Head-quarters. While in the telegraph-room, a message was received,
which was whispered between the operators; a minute afterwards a gun was
fired, and the long roll beat; the infantry fell in on the parade, the
artillery hurried to the ramparts and manned the heavy guns, and
powder-carts were moving up the inclines. I asked, "What's all this?"
"Telegram from Newport's News that the _Merrimack_ is coming out!" She
did not come beyond Sewall's Point, however.

The boat from Baltimore brought six excellent New York surgeons,
twenty-six nurses, and ten surgical dressers (medical students). I got
them all on the _Small_, and having succeeded in obtaining the more
important supplies in limited quantities, at noon left for Yorktown. On
reaching here we found the "stern-wheelers" again along-side, and over
three hundred patients on board; many very sick indeed, some delirious,
some comatose, some fairly _in articulo_. The assistant surgeons, left
behind at the abandoned camps, are too anxious to be rid of them, so as
to move with their regiments, and have surgery of war. And as their
orders authorize it, they hurry them off to us in this style, after a
day's ride in army wagons, without springs, over such a country without
roads as I described last week. They were horribly filthy, and there was
no time to clean them, often not to undress them, as, sick and fainting,
they were lifted on board.

About noon the next day I completed a hospital organization of such
forces as I had, dividing the cabins and the upper steerage of the ship
into five wards, for the bad cases, each ward having one surgeon, two
ward-masters, and four nurses,—the two latter classes in watches;
besides these, some assistant nurses and servants, convalescent
soldiers, and contrabands. In these wards only the very sick—chiefly
cases of typhoid fever—were taken. By cutting away bulkheads, and
getting wind-sails rigged, they were fairly well ventilated. I had to
offer $200 for the repair of damages before this could be secured,
however. All the rest of the ship was the sixth ward, in which the
hernias, rheumatisms, bronchitises, lame and worn-out men were placed,
organized in squads of fifty each, with a squad-master to draw their
rations of house-diet.

To get proper food for all, decently cooked and distributed, has given
me more concern than anything else. The ship servants are brutes, and
our supply of utensils was cruelly short. Fortunately the Captain is a
good-hearted and resolute man, and the ladies—God knows what we should
have done without them!—have contrived to make some chafing-dishes with
which the kitchen is pieced out wonderfully. Just think of it for a
moment. Here were one hundred miserably sick and dying men, forced upon
us before we had been an hour on board; and tug after tug swarming round
the great ship, before we had a nail out of a box, and when there were
but ten pounds of Indian meal and two spoons to feed them with. No
account could do justice to the faithful industry of the medical
students and young men: how we all got through with it, I hardly know;
but one idea is distinct,—that every man had a good place to sleep in,
and something hot to eat daily, and that the sickest had every essential
that could have been given them in their own homes....

B. was all this time driving everything to obtain supplies, while the
sick kept coming faster than we could get anything ready for them. The
last thing essential was more beef. B. at length got hold of a couple of
draught cattle of Franklin's division, left behind in their advance by
steamboats, and while these were being killed and dressed, we filled up
to nine hundred patients.

To avoid having more pushed on board, I had the Captain heave short; so
the moment that B.'s boat came, and the beef could be hoisted up, the
steamer was under way, and before night, no doubt, was well out to sea.

I then went on board the _Small_ to drop down, quite ill for the time
from want of sleep and from fatigue. A few hours' rest and a quiet
dinner brought me all right, however, and at sunset I set out with B. to
look after the sick ashore.

                  *       *       *       *       *

One of the strange effects, upon all concerned as workers on these
hospital ships, in the heart of all misery and pain, and part of it,
seems to have been the quieting of all excitement of feeling and of
expression,—a sort of apparent stoicism granted for the occasion. A
slight illustration of this quietness, which was characteristic of most
of the hospital party, is given in the following passage from a letter
of one of the ladies on the _Ocean Queen_:—

"It seems a strange thing that the sight of such misery, such death in
life, should have been accepted by us all so quietly as it was. We were
simply eyes and hands for those three days. Great, strong men were dying
about us; in nearly every ward some one was going. Yesterday one of the
students called me to go with him and say whether I had taken the name
of a dead man in the forward cabin the day he came in. He was a strong,
handsome fellow, raving mad when brought in, and lying now, the day
after, with pink cheeks and peaceful look. I had tried to get his name,
and once he seemed to understand, and screeched out at the top of his
voice, 'John H. Miller,' but whether it was his own name or that of some
friend he wanted, I don't know; we could not find out. All the record I
had of him was from my diet-list: 'Miller,—forward cabin, port side,
number 119. Beef-tea and punch.'

"Last night Dr. Ware came to me to know how much floor-room we had. The
immense saloon of the aft cabin was filled with mattresses so thickly
placed that there was hardly stepping-room between them, and as I swung
my lantern along the rows of pale faces, it showed me another strong man
dead. N. had been working hard over him, but it was useless. He opened
his eyes when she called 'Henry' clearly in his ear, and gave her a
chance to pour brandy down his throat; but all did no good; he died
quietly while she was helping some one else, and my lantern showed him
gone. We are changed by all this contact with terror, else how could I
deliberately turn my lantern on his face, and say to the doctor behind
me, 'Is that man dead?' and then stand coolly while he examined him,
listened, and pronounced him 'dead.' I could not have quietly said a
year ago, 'That will make one more bed, then, Doctor.' Sick men were
waiting on deck in the cold, though, and every few feet of cabin floor
were precious. So they took the dead man out, and put him to sleep in
his coffin on deck. We had to climb over another soldier lying up there
quiet as he, to get at the blankets to keep the living warm."

The business of feeding men by hundreds at short notice, in confined
spaces, and with the aid of very limited cooking facilities, is one
which can hardly be appreciated by those who have only heard, not seen,
how it is accomplished. It takes good heads as well as good hearts,
strong will as well as strong limbs, to avoid ruinous confusion. After a
battle, when men are brought in so rapidly that they have to be piled in
almost without reference to their being human beings, and every one
raving for drink first and then for nourishment, it requires strong
nerves to be able to attend to them properly. Habit and system are the
two great aids,—or rather system first of all, if possible; though
system in such cases grows out of experience. Happily system has ruled
in the work of the Sanitary Commission, and such success as has attended
its operations is chiefly due to this, as every one must have observed
who had an opportunity to witness the difference between its doings and
those having the same end in view, but carried on without well-studied
or sufficiently comprehensive plans.

But in these Atlantic Floating Hospitals the difficulties were very
great. The desideratum is a practicable diet, simple yet nourishing,
abundant and not injurious; always ready, yet varied enough to avoid the
danger of satiety, which is ever threatening the sick man, whose chance
of recovery may hang on his ability to eat his food with relish. In this
arduous part of the Hospital Transport duty, the ladies were able to be
especially useful; their sympathy and good judgment coming constantly in
play, and the supply of fruits, jellies, and a variety of delicacies
being generally so liberal as to afford full scope to their powers. But
in dealing with hundreds and thousands of men, many of whom are not
particularly in danger, but yet obliged to lie in beds for wounds to
heal, it is necessary to provide on a scale so large as puts mere
delicacies, or the ordinary resources of the sick-room, quite out of the
question. It is utterly futile to attempt treating each one of four or
five hundred patients as if we had him alone in a private family; and
patients, as well as nurses and friends, must learn this after very
little experience. But it is practicable here, as elsewhere, to
accomplish much that is beneficial and comfortable by judicious system
firmly carried out. To avoid collisions, and vain attempts to perform
impossibilities, after a short experience, but careful study of what was
really needed, rules were established which proved in practice nearly
perfect in the matter of preventing delay and disappointment, while the
result satisfied the patients in general quite as well as we can hope to
satisfy sick men who have fitful appetites. As the suggestion may prove
applicable to other cases, the established routine is given in full in
the Appendix (B.)

                              CHAPTER III.

Just before the _Ocean Queen_ left, a reinforcement of ladies and
servants arrived from New York. A part of these were put on the _Queen_;
temporary quarters were found for the remainder on the _Wilson Small_.
Sick men were at this time being carted into Yorktown from the various
abandoned camps in the vicinity, and the Sanitary party going on shore
after the departure of the _Queen_, these were found lying in tiers in
the muddy streets, while tents were being pitched and houses cleared for
their accommodation. Several wagon-loads of hospital supplies were sent
to them from the store-boats of the Commission; twenty-five dollars were
given to the surgeon in charge, to be used to stimulate the exertions of
his limited force of attendants, and for the purchase of odds and ends,
and he was informed that, if more should be required, it would be
provided by the Commission, and then the company started on their little
boat for West Point, where a battle was reported in progress.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(M.) _West Point, May 9th._—We arrived here early this morning. The
whole field of battle is open like a map before us. A white flag flies
from a small house just below us. We are along-side a transport on which
an officer was yesterday wounded by a shell thrown from a battery which
had been concealed behind this house, upon which the same flag was then
flying. Another transport near us has a shot-hole through her
smoke-stack. There are three or four thousand men along the shore, and
more constantly arriving and disembarking by the pontoons, with
artillery and horses. As I write, a blue column is moving off, the
bayonets glistening far into the woods. We are sending off small stores,
called for by the Commission's Inspectors ashore, who are visiting the
extemporized hospitals, and are also supplying some of the gunboats'
sick-bays with fruits and ice.

Just here a steamboat, loaded with sick and wounded, came along-side of
us; a transport, made use of as a hospital on the occasion, but needing
almost everything.

The more dangerously wounded upon this transport were transferred to the
_Small_, and three ladies, with surgical dressers and servants,
beef-tea, lemonade, ice, and stimulants, went to the assistance of the
others, remaining with them till, after a transshipment at Yorktown,
they were lodged in shore hospitals at Fortress Monroe.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(A.) The _Small_ received the dangerous cases, several of amputation
among them; the operations had been performed on the field. One died at
midnight. I had great difficulty, at first, in our now very crowded
little boat, in restraining individual zeal within the requirements of
order and tranquillity; but I believe I succeeded, and as soon as the
women began to experience the value of the discipline, they fell into it
finely, and all behaved in the best manner possible. I put those on our
boat in watches, rigidly excluding from that part of the boat where the
wounded men were placed all who were not absolutely required on duty.
The poor fellows were nearly all soon coaxed asleep, and the man who
died passed away, and his body was removed without its being known to
his nearest neighbor. We had on board Dr. Ware and two of the students,
noble young fellows, zealous, orderly, and discreet.

I think all the men who have any chance for recovery look better this
morning. One man (amputation of thigh) who seemed nearly gone when he
came on board, staring wildly, and muttering unintelligibly, lifted his
hand toward me as I came into the cabin this morning; and smiled when I
bent over him. The nurse told me that he said to her on waking from a
sound sleep, just at sunrise, "You have saved my life for my wife, good
woman." There are several officers among them; one a hero, who led his
company against a regiment, pushing it back, but losing one fifth of his
men, and getting a shot through the lungs. There is Corporal C——, too,
who has lost his leg, and who says he bears no malice against the man
who shot him, but he hopes some day to meet and punish the wretch who
kicked him on his wounded leg, after he was laid helpless.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(M.) _May 11th._—Three of our wounded men died during the night.
Everything was done for them; they could not have had more care in their
own homes. Our little boat is so crowded that the well sleep on the
upper deck, all under cover being occupied by the wounded; and, the
small outfit of china, etc. being needed for the sick, we take our meat
and potatoes on slices of bread for plates, and make the top of a stove
our domestic board.

                  *       *       *       *       *

As intelligence had come through telegraph from Washington that the
_Ocean Queen_ had been taken on her arrival at New York, against all
remonstrance, for other purposes, the _S. R. Spaulding_, a large,
seaworthy vessel, though lamentably inferior for a hospital to the
magnificent _Ocean Queen_, was obtained in her place. She was fitted for
carrying cavalry, with stalls for horses, and at this time filled with
stable odor, and needed coal and water as well as complete interior

The _Daniel Webster_, arriving at Yorktown on her return from New York,
could not get into the wharf-berth which had been secured for her near
the hospital; a tug was consequently procured, which being run
alternately with the _Small_, between sunset and twelve o'clock at
night, two hundred and forty sick and wounded were taken off and put
comfortably to bed. After this her hospital service was reorganized so
as to transfer from her all the force that could possibly be spared, and
to put on her any of the company whom it was necessary to part with. An
estimate was made of the stores requisite for her home trip, and at
daylight what she could spare was put on board the _Small_, and she
steamed off on her second trip to New York, eighteen hours after she
arrived. Everything is noted as going on admirably in the loading of the
_Webster_, each man knowing his place, and not trying to do the duty of
others. The discipline maintained by Dr. Grymes was most satisfactory,
and the corps of ladies and nurses work as if they had been doing this
thing wisely and well all their lives.[3]

Footnote 3:

  Since the above was written, we have heard with deep regret of the
  death of Dr. Grymes. Wherever he served, his labors were singularly
  wise and efficient; with exceeding gentleness and quietness of manner
  he combined much energy of will, and to thorough skill was added a
  loving heart, and a rare devotedness of purpose.

At 9 A. M., the _Webster_ started on her second trip, and there was time
to look after the other vessels which were being fitted for the service.
One company had been put at work on the _Elm City_, and another on the
_Knickerbocker_, both these river boats having been handed over by the
Quartermaster's Department to the Commission, to be fitted for hospital
service. Stores had also been ordered to the _State of Maine_, a
government hospital in need. All was found proceeding well with the
limited force on the _Elm City_; but the _Knickerbocker_, where was she?

                  *       *       *       *       *

(M.) _Steamboat Knickerbocker, May 13th._—If my letter smells of Yellow
B, it has a right to, as my paper is the cover of the sugar-box. Since I
last wrote, we have been jerking about from boat to boat, fitting up
one, and starting her off, then doing the same by another. We came on
board this boat Saturday night. She had then about two hundred wounded
men on board, taken from the Williamsburg fight, and bound for Fort
Monroe, two of the ladies and assistants to look after the sick during
the few hours' run, and others to get things on hand, and fit up the
wards. We had fifty-six Commission beds made on the upper ward floor
that night, and were ready to go on shore at Fort Monroe after the three
and a half hours from Yorktown. Dr. C. came on board and had all the men
carefully removed to the Hygeia Hospital, and we improved the
opportunity to get some roses from the garden for our wounded men left
on the _Small_, and to see Mr. Lincoln driving past to take possession
of Norfolk. We lay at the fort all night, and were blown awake the next
morning by the explosion of the _Merrimack_, when I found to my
amazement that along-side of us lay the _Daniel Webster_, No. 2,
Government hospital, with four or five of our Commission company on
board, whom we had left at Yorktown. She ran, in passing, along-side our
supply ships, (all our boats of the Sanitary Commission are known by
their flags,) just after we came away, and begged for help. Mr. A.
tossed on board everything necessary, including two ladies, two
surgeons, and blankets, and started them off after us to the Fortress,
with two hundred badly wounded men. They had been wholly uncared for
till our people got on board. They did all they could for them in so
short a time, washed them, gave them good suppers and breakfasts, and
Drs. W. and W. dressed the worst wounds, watching them all night as
tenderly as women could. This boat was all the next day unloading her
sick; they were miserably wounded, and had to be lifted with great care.
We on the _Knickerbocker_ started up the river again, and anchored off
Yorktown.... We wanted a stove for our hospital kitchen on board, which
has to be kept distinct from the kitchen of the ship's crew; so we went
ashore with —— to seize upon anything we could find; poked about in all
the rebel barracks, asked all the soldiers we met about it, and finally
came upon the sutler's hut,—sutler of the _Enfans Perdus_, who was
cooking something nice for the officers' mess over a stove with _four_
places for pots! This was too much to stand, so under a written
authority given to "Dr. Olmsted" by the Quartermaster of this
department, we proceeded to rake out the sutler's fire and lift his pots
off;—and he offered us his cart and mule to drag the stove to the boat,
and would take no pay! So, through the wretched town, filled with the
_débris_ of huts and camp furniture, old blankets, dirty cast-off
clothing, smashed gun-carriages, exploded guns, vermin and filth
everywhere,—and along the sandy shore covered with cannon-balls, tossed
into the river, and rolled back,—we followed the mule, a triumphant
procession, waving our broken bits of stove-pipe and iron pot-covers. I
left a polite message for the "Colonel perdu,"—which had to stand him in
place of his lost dinner,—and I shall never understand what was the
matter with that sutler, whose self-sacrifice secured our three hundred
men their meals promptly.

The next morning the _Knickerbocker_, to the surprise of the Commission,
was not to be found. They searched the fleet twice through for us, but
in vain, and finally heard at the Quartermaster's office, that a
requisition had been received at midnight for a boat to go at once to
the advance of the army, on the Pamunkey River, and the _Knickerbocker_
had been taken for it, the fact of her having been assigned to the
Commission being entirely forgotten. The only mitigation of the
anxieties of those who remained, for the ladies on board, was the
assurance that the boat would soon return. Meantime, we, on board,
sailed up the Pamunkey, getting a fine chance to perfect the hospital
arrangements. We unpacked tins and clothing, filled a linen closet in
each ward, had beds put in order for three hundred, got up our stove,
set kitchen in order, filled store closets, and arranged a black-hole
with a lock to it, where oranges grow, and brandy and wine are stored
box upon box; and on reaching Franklin's head-quarters, the messenger
transacted his business, we landed a file of soldiers and a surgeon of
the division, who had shown us great kindness on the voyage, and were
allowed to push off again unmolested. The army lay all along the shore,
and General Franklin's head-quarters were in a large storehouse back
from the river. We found on our return to Yorktown every one at work
fitting up the _Spaulding_.

                  *       *       *       *       *

An order had been obtained from the Quartermaster for the planks and
boards of some rebel platforms, with which to put up bunks, etc., and a
gang of contrabands were set at the business. While this was going on, a
visit was made to the surgeon in charge of the shore hospitals, with
whom, after debate, it was agreed that the _Elm City_ should be made
ready by two o'clock to take on the sick who were waiting transport near
the shore. The _State of Maine_ was at the same time to be supplied and
made ready to follow without delay. Going on board the _Small_ again to
carry out these arrangements, A. was met by a note from the
Quartermaster enclosing a telegram from the Medical Director of the army
at Williamsburg, demanding a boat provided with "_straw and water to be
ready to take on two hundred sick and wounded within two hours at
Queen's Creek_." The despatch concluded, "This is of the utmost urgency.
See the Sanitary Commission." The only boat in the fleet that had a fair
supply of water on board was the _Elm City_, already assigned for other
duty, and she had no stores of food. There was about one day's supply of
provisions for two hundred men on the _Small_, and A. wrote at once to
the surgeon in charge of the shore hospitals, that, to meet an order of
the Medical Director, it had become necessary to change the arrangements
just before made with him. He would have to withdraw the _Elm City_, but
as supplies could be sent immediately to the State of _Maine_, she could
be got ready before night to take her place. The _Small_ was then put in
motion, and first the _Elm City_ was hailed in passing, with orders to
"fire up and heave short, and be all ready to move in half an hour,"
thence to the _Alida_, which was sent with the supplies to the _State of
Maine_, and then back past the _Elm City_, ordering her to follow, and
so in good time up to the mouth of Queen's Creek, by the side of the
_Kennebec_, loading with wounded Secession prisoners, brought out of the
creek by light-draft stern-wheelers. The process of embarkation,
witnessed at a point some distance up the creek, was rude, careless, and
quite unnecessarily painful; the miserable wretches of rebels being made
to climb a plank, set up at an angle of forty-five degrees, which they
could only do by the aid of a rope thrown to them from the deck. Strange
to say, they themselves made no complaint, but appeared to think that
they were well treated. So much for habit. The only assistance the
Commission could render was to make the pathway less slippery by nailing
cleats closely together across the steep planks. To do this, nails were
bought of an old man near by, who at first asserted decidedly that not a
nail could be found on his premises, until he was offered one dollar for
twenty-five, when an abundant supply was discovered.

Notwithstanding the Medical Director's telegram, that the case was one
of the "utmost urgency," no sick men were found at the place of
embarkation on the creek, nor could any be heard of nearer than at
Williamsburg. Proceeding thither, with great difficulty,—passing on the
way directly through the field of the late battle,—A. inquired of the
first man he met after entering the town, "Where is the hospital?" "The
hospital, sir? Every house in the town is a hospital; you cannot go
amiss for one." And this seemed to be literally true. Finding the
Medical Director, he learned that he thought it important to relieve the
hospitals by transportation as fast as he, in any way, could; but not
supposing it possible that the telegraphic order could be literally
complied with, he had taken no measures as yet to send the two hundred
patients in question to the place appointed for embarkation. It was
agreed, however, that a convoy of ambulances should be started at
daylight, and A. returned to the mouth of Queen's Creek, and despatched
B. with the _Small_ to Yorktown to bring up additional stores from the
_Elm City_, upon which the half-completed work of filling bed-sacks and
other preparations also continued through the night. With the first
boat-load of the wounded brought off in the morning, arose one of those
conflicts of authority which so often embarrassed the Commission at this
time in its work.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(A.) At the first step I was met by a Brigade Surgeon coming on board
from the _Kennebec_, who went about giving orders over my head, changing
my arrangements. As he persisted, and refused to compromise after I
showed my written authority from the Medical Director, I told him that I
should allow no sick to come on board until I was satisfied with the
arrangements. He then declared that he should go to the Medical
Director. "The very thing I want, and I will go with you. Meantime the
sick, if any arrive, shall come on board, and Dr. Ware, here, will see
to their disposition, if you please." He assented, and we then went to
the landing and saw the lighter again loaded with sick, in the same
manner as yesterday. When she was full, the surgeon said he should
return upon her to the _Elm City_, "But I thought we were to go together
to the Medical Director, sir!" "I have concluded not to do so, but have
written to inform him that my authority is questioned." I deemed it
best, after this, to go again to the Medical Director myself, and, after
a tedious delay, got passage on a forage-wagon loaded with oats. What
with the continuous atmosphere of thick yellow dust, and the jar of the
heavy wagon over execrable roads, this was a hard ride.

I found the Medical Director, got a copy of an order which the Brigade
Surgeon should have received yesterday, but which had failed of
transmission to him, which failure justified officially his assertion of
authority over _any_ transport coming at that time to that anchorage.

Returned to the landing, and, the lighters having grounded, waited
there, on the bank of the creek, with a hundred sick men, being devoured
by mosquitoes and sand-flies. On reaching the _Elm City_, found that,
owing to the conflict of authority, and consequent imperfect system, as
well as to the insufficient number of attendants, the sick were but
slowly and with difficulty taken care of. Including the hundred coming
off with me, the number on board was already over four hundred, or twice
as many as the Medical Director had estimated, or I had had reason to
calculate on in the supply of water, medicine, and stores.

After sunset I went again up the creek, and found eight men on the
beach, left there sick, without a single attendant or friend within four
miles, while, only the night before, two of our teamsters had been
waylaid and murdered, as was supposed, by the farmers of the vicinity,
(guerilla fighting as they call it,) in the edge of the neighboring
woods. After taking them on board the small boat, I asked who had charge
of the party, wishing to make sure that no stragglers were left. A man
was pointed out, who, because he was stronger or more helpful than the
rest, seemed to have been regarded by them as their leader, though he
had no appointment. He was able to answer my inquiries satisfactorily,
and then as he sat by my side, while I steered the boat, he told me
about himself. His name was Corcoran. After the battle of Williamsburg
he felt sick. There was an order to march, but his Captain said, "Good
God! Corcoran, you are not fit to march. Go into the town and get into a
hospital." He walked three miles carrying his knapsack, and when he came
to a hospital the surgeon told him he must bring a note from his
Captain, and refused to receive him. He went out, and, as he was now
very ill, he crawled into something like a milk-wagon and fell asleep.
He was awakened by a man who pulled him out by his feet, so that he fell
heavily on the ground and was hurt. He begged the man—a Secessionist, he
supposed—for some water, and he gave him some; and when he saw how sick
he was, he said he would not have pulled him out only that he wanted to
use his wagon. Corcoran then tried to walk away, but had not gone far
when he fell, and probably fainted. By and by a negro man woke him up,
and asked if he should not help him to a hospital. The negro man was
very kind, but when they came to a hospital the doctor said he could not
take him in, because he "hadn't a bit of a note." Corcoran said, "For
God's sake, Doctor, do give me room to lie down here somewhere; it's not
much room I'll take anyhow, and I can't go about any longer!" It was
then three days since he had tasted food. The doctor told him he could
lie down, and he had not been up since till to-day.

I have repeated the whole of this story as I heard it, while we were
floating slowly down the river, because the poor man who told it me died
soon after we got on board, kindly attended in his last moments by our
Sisters of Mercy. A letter to his mother was found in his pocket, and
one of the ladies is writing to her.

This morning we returned to Yorktown, and took on the _Elm City_ thirty
more sick from a steamboat which had brought them from Cumberland on the

At ten o'clock the _Elm City_ left for Washington with 440 patients....
After noon I went ashore, called on the surgeon in charge of the
hospitals and the Military Governor, made our arrangements for a trip up
the river to collect scattered sick, and to tow our _Wilson Small_ up to
West Point for repairs. She has been knocked into and run against by all
the big boats till she is completely disabled. Returning on board for
this purpose, was met by an officer with a telegram, begging that a boat
might be immediately despatched to Bigelow's Landing, where an
ambulance-train master had reported that "a hundred sick had been left
on the ground in the rain, without attendance or food, to die."
Bigelow's Landing being up a narrow, shoal, crooked creek, we ran about
the harbor looking in vain for a boat of sufficiently light draught to
send there. At length we determined to take our whole Sanitary fleet to
the mouth of the creek, and, leaving the _Alida_ and _Knickerbocker_
outside, try to get up with the _Elizabeth_, for we had no single
vessel, large or small, in itself, suitably provided.

We ran to the _Knickerbocker_, but before we could get her under way a
steamboat, in charge of a military surgeon, came along-side, and a
letter was handed me, begging that I would take care of one hundred and
fifty sick men who had been taken on at West Point early in the morning,
and who had had no nourishment during the day. It was sunset, stormy and
cold. I at first hesitated, on account of the greater need of those at
Bigelow's Landing, but the surgeon in charge having induced me to take a
look into the cabin, I changed my mind. The little room was as full as
it could be crammed of sick soldiers, sitting on the floor; there was
not room to lie down. Only two or three were at full length; one of
these was dying,—was dead the next time I looked in. It was frightfully
dirty, and the air suffocating.

We immediately began taking them on board the _Knickerbocker_.... It is
now midnight. B. and Dr. Ware started with a part of our company and the
two supply-boats, five hours ago, for Queen's Creek, with the intention
of getting them to the sick at Bigelow's Landing, if possible; if not,
to go up in the yawl and canoe with supplies and firewood, and do
whatever should be found possible for their relief. Two of the ladies
went with them. The rest are giving beef-tea and brandy and water to the
sick on the _Knickerbocker_, now numbering three hundred.

(M.) The floors of lower and upper decks are covered with beds. The men
all have tremendous appetites, lazily sleeping and eating,—never miss a
meal three times a day. If it were possible to have great eating-houses
and wayside places, where volunteers could break down and sleep and doze
for ten days or so, the men forced upon us by the medical authorities
here and sent North would be doing good work in their regiments,—a good
bath, seven days' rest, and twenty-one good meals are all they need. ——
is housekeeper on this boat, and great pails of tea and trays of bread
and butter, and rice and sugar, go all around the decks for breakfast.
Good thick soup and bread for dinner, and breakfast repeated, at
tea-time. "Peter," with six long-shore Maryland oyster-men (darkeys)
runs the hospital kitchen, and has a daily struggle for the daily bread
with the incorrigible fellows who shirk work, and for each meal protest
against everything, and have three times a day to be brought round by
highly colored blandishments. The sickest men, especially the one
hundred and fifty last taken on, have plenty of beef-tea and cool
drinks, made in the ladies' pantry, and all of them are now undressed
and in clean, comfortable beds.

(A.) I am quite at a loss to know what I shall do to-morrow. Unless
additional force arrives we certainly cannot meet another emergency. It
will not be surprising if this letter is found somewhat incoherent, for
I have fallen asleep several times while writing it, hoping all the time
that B. might arrive. We have a cold northeast storm and thick weather,
and I conclude that his expedition is unable to get down, and I may go
to sleep for the night. I have just been through the vessel, and find
nearly all the patients sleeping quietly, and with every indication of

_May 16th._ I fell so soundly asleep, that, fifteen minutes after I
finished writing the above last night, it had to be several times
repeated to me before I could understand where I was and what it all
meant when the officer of the watch came to tell me that the supply
boats were making fast to us, with over a hundred more sick. Anchoring
the _Alida_ at the mouth, B. had attempted to get up the creek with the
_Elizabeth_, but, as I had feared, she went aground. Going on with the
yawl, he found one of the steam-lighters at anchor with over a hundred
sick and wounded men lying on the deck, who were soaked, not merely with
rain, but from having been obliged to wade out to her in water
knee-deep. He learned that, further up the creek, a few men, too badly
wounded to stand, or too weak to wade off to the boat, had been left
behind. No persuasion could induce the captain to return for them, but a
threat to report him at head-quarters, at length made him fire up and go
back. Eight were found just where I found eight on my night trip up the
same creek a few nights before, some in a nearly dying condition. Having
brought them off to the lighter, and served stimulants to them, she was
run down the creek to the supply-boats, the freight-rooms of which had,
in the mean time, been as well as possible arranged to accommodate the

                  *       *       *       *       *

One of the ladies engaged in this night expedition of the _Elizabeth_
gives the following account of it in a letter to a friend.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(N.) Not a moment is lost,—Mr. B. would not even let me go for a
shawl,—and the tug is off. The _Elizabeth_ is our store-tender or
supply-boat; her main deck is piled from deck to deck with boxes. The
first thing done is to pick out six cases of pillows, six of quilts, one
of brandy, and one cask of bread. Then all the rest is lowered into the
hold. Meantime I make for the kitchen, where I find a remarkable old
aunty and a fire. I dive into her pots and pans, I wheedle her out of
her green tea (the black having given out), and soon I have eight
buckets full of tea, and pyramids of bread and butter. The cleared
main-deck is spread with two layers of quilts, and rows of pillows a
man's length apart.... The poor fellows are led or carried on board, and
stowed side by side as close as can be. We feed them with spoonfuls of
brandy and water; they are utterly broken down, wet through, some of
them raving with fever. All are without food for one day, some for two
days. After all are laid down, Miss G. and I give them their supper, and
they sink down again. Any one who looks over such a deck as that, and
sees the suffering, despondent attitudes of the men, and their worn
frames and faces, knows what war is better than the sight of wounds can
teach it. We could only take ninety; more had to go in a small tug-boat
which accompanied us. Mr. B. and the doctor went on board of her, to
give sustenance to the men, and in the mean time the _Elizabeth_ started
on the homeward trip. So the care of her men came to me. Fortunately
only a dozen or two were very ill, and none died. Still I felt anxious;
six of them were out of their mind, one had tried to destroy himself
three times that day, and was drenched through, having been dragged out
of the water, into which he had thrown himself just before we reached
him. When we reached the _Knickerbocker_, Dr. Ware came on board, and
gave me some general directions, after which I got along very well; my
only disaster had been that I gave morphine to a man who actually
screamed with rheumatism and cramp. I supposed morphine would not hurt
him, and it was a mercy to others to stop the noise, instead of which I
made him perfectly crazy, and had the greatest trouble in soothing him.
We did not move them that night, and the next morning, after getting
them all washed, I went off guard, and Mrs. M. and Mrs. N. came on board
with their breakfast from the _Knickerbocker_, where the one hundred and
eighty men were stowed and cared for. Soon afterwards my men were
transferred to her. She still lies along-side, and we take care of her.
She is beautifully in order; everything right and orderly. It is a real
pleasure to give the men their meals. The ward-masters are all
appointed, and the orderlies know their duty. She will probably leave
to-morrow.... As for the ladies, they are just what they should be,
efficient, wise, active as cats, merry, lighthearted, thoroughbred, and
without the fearful tone of self-devotedness about them that sad
experience makes one expect in benevolent women. We all know in our
hearts that it is thorough enjoyment to be down here; _it is life_, in
short, and we wouldn't be anywhere else (in view of our enjoyment) for
anything in the world. I hope people will continue to sustain this great
work. Hundreds of lives are being saved by it. I have seen with my own
eyes, in one week, fifty men who must have died anywhere but here, and
many more who probably would have done so. I speak of lives saved only;
the amount of suffering saved is incalculable. The Commission keep up
the work at great expense. It has six large vessels now running from
here. Government furnishes these, and the bare rations of the men, (or
is supposed to do so,) but the real expenses of supply fall on the
Commission; in fact, _everything_ that makes the power and excellence of
the work is supplied by the Commission. If people ask what they shall
send, say, "Money, _money_, stimulants, and articles of sick-food."

                  *       *       *       *       *

(A.) I went through the _Elizabeth_ soon after she came along-side, and
all who were awake were very ready to say they wanted for nothing. We
concluded to let them remain where they were for the rest of the night.
They had been on the creek shore from ten to fourteen hours, without a
physician or a single attendant, a particle of food or a drop of drink,
and this on a cold, foggy day, with rain and mist after nightfall. With
half a dozen exceptions, they are marvellously well this morning, and
profoundly grateful for the kindness which, I need not say, the ladies
are extending to them. I am as yet unable to make up my mind what to do
with them. The cold northeasterly storm continues.

_May 17th._ Our poor little _Wilson Small_ since her first patching has
been run into again and again, and for some days has been so broken up,
that the poor little thing can't raise steam even. We have been towed
about by our supply-boats, and to-day shall quit her while she goes to
Baltimore for repairs. We can't leave her without real regret, even to
go temporarily on board the _Spaulding_, one of the finest vessels of
her size that I ever saw. We go on slowly with our fittings, having but
poor lumber and only four carpenters. We have had, however, a detail,
ordered by the military governor, of the "Infant Purdys," as the boys
call the _Enfans Perdus_, to fetch and carry, and shall have the
_Spaulding_ after next filling the _Daniel Webster_ and the _Elm City_,
both which should be here before to-morrow night. We sent off the
_Knickerbocker_ this morning at daylight to Washington, with two hundred
and seventy sick and wounded. There are two ladies for each watch, and
the value of their service in the minor superintendence is incalculable.

The twenty ladies who came from New York were really a great godsend,
although at first, with no boat to assign them to, we did not know what
to do with them. They have all worked like heroes night and day, and
though the duty required of them is frequently of the most disagreeable
and trying character, I have never seen one of them flinch for a moment.
Yesterday, I chanced to observe, _apropos_ to an excessively hard
night's work, that all our hardships would be very satisfactory to
recall by and by, when Miss M. said earnestly, "Recall! why, I never had
half the present satisfaction in any week of my life before!" and there
was a general murmur of concurrence. If you could see the difference
between the men on our transports, and those on the vessels managed
directly by government,—rude as the means at our command are, and
although we do all we can to aid the latter,—you would better understand
the incentive and the reward of exertion.... The conduct of the patients
is always fine;—patient, brave, patriotic. I am surprised and delighted
by it. We have sent details of the ladies with every vessel, and have
now remaining with us only four, besides the hired Crimean nurse, Mrs.

Captain ——, whom I spoke of as mortally wounded, and whom we had kept in
the cabin of the _Wilson Small_ since our visit to West Point, we sent
off this morning on the _Knickerbocker_ feeling quite jolly and with a
fair prospect of speedy recovery. I don't doubt he would have died but
for good nursing and surgery, as he had exhausting internal hemorrhages.

We had two deaths on board last night,—one a fine fellow of sixteen, of
pneumonia, in the lower deck ward, and a convalescent in the upper after
ward. The latter came out of his room, saying he was faint, and wanted
water, and, while the attendant turned for it, sprang over the guards
into the water below. A boat was lowered, and efforts made to find him,
but he must have struck his head, and, being stunned, did not rise.

                              CHAPTER IV.

(A.) We are lying in the _Spaulding_ just below a burnt railroad-bridge,
on the Pamunkey River, and, as usual, in the middle of the fleet of
forage boats. The shores are at once wooded and wonderful to the water's
edge, the fulness of midsummer with the vivid and tender green of
Southern spring. Up the banks, where the trees will let us look between
them, lie great fields of wheat, tall and fresh, and taking the sunshine
for miles. The river winds constantly,—returning upon itself every
half-mile or so, and we seem sometimes lying in a little wooded lake
without inlet or outlet. It is startling to find, so far from the sea, a
river whose name we hardly knew two weeks ago, where our anchor drops in
three fathoms of water and our great ship turns freely either way with
the tide. Our smoke-stacks are almost swept by the hanging branches as
we move, and great schooners are drawn up under the banks, tied to the
trees; the _Spaulding_ herself lies in the shade of an elm-tree which is
a landmark for miles up and down. The army is in camp close at hand,
resting, this Sunday, and eating its six pies to a man, and so getting
ready for a move, which is planning in ——'s tent. Half a mile above us
is the White House, naming the place,—a modern cottage, if ever white,
now drabbed over, standing where the early home of Mrs. Washington
stood. We went ashore this morning with General ——, and strolled about
the grounds,—an unpretending, sweet little place, with old trees shading
the cottage, a green lawn sloping to the river, and an old-time garden
full of roses. The house has been emptied, but there are some pieces of
quaint furniture, brass fire-dogs, &c., and just inside the door this
notice is posted: "Northern soldiers who profess to reverence the name
of Washington, forbear to desecrate the home of his early married life,
the property of his wife, and now the home of his descendants"; signed,
"A Granddaughter of Mrs. Washington"; confronted by Gen. McClellan's
order of protection.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(M.) We were going up to head-quarters, but refrained, on consideration,
and came back to the _Spaulding_, through army-wagons and pie-pedlers,
and rewarded the three Generals who had come over to meet us with
much-needed towels, handkerchiefs, and cologne. The river above us to
the burnt railroad-bridge is crowded with steamboats and schooners. Four
gunboats are our next-door neighbors. Beyond the bridge, round the
corner, and out of sight, winds the Pamunkey, trees crowding down to the
brink and dipping their feet in the water. The Harbor-Master wanting the
room in the evening, we dropped down the stream and anchored by a
feathery elm-tree.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(A.) The next morning I saw the Medical Director at head-quarters. He
seems to be in a worse boggle than ever as to the disposition of his
sick. There are a great many still at Yorktown to be removed, but the
work is now fairly systematized there, and the sick begin to collect
_here_ by hundreds, with a prospect of thousands, and no thought of
system in disposing of them, as far as I can see. The Director has
ordered us to take on men at once, but our bunks are not up, and I have
promised him the _Daniel Webster_ and _Elm City_, which should be here
to-morrow, and can take six hundred. B. has gone down to bring up our
boats from Yorktown, with all the stores that can be spared from our
supply-ship. I shall try my best here to carry out the plan I have
always wished to have pursued,—namely, the establishment of a large
receiving hospital, from which those who really need to be sent away may
be deliberately selected and transferred to proper vessels, properly
equipped. During my visit this morning to the Medical Director's tent,
four persons reported their arrival with sick, and were informed that
there were no accommodations for them. Tents had been received, but
there was no detail on hand to pitch them, and if they were pitched,
there were no beds to put in them. Sickness was increasing rapidly,
every case showing the influence of malaria. The Medical Director said,
apparently with justice, that he had anticipated all this waste and
confusion, and had made ample provision against it, but that almost none
of his ordered supplies had reached him.

By night the _Daniel Webster_ and _Elm City_ had come up from Yorktown,
and I went up with the first, securing with some difficulty a berth for
her, and began taking on the sick at once, the Medical Director being
present and superintending the embarkation. He seemed to have entirely
lost sight of the plan about determined upon the day before, to
establish the shore receiving hospital, and was only anxious to get the
sick off his hands as rapidly as possible, being appalled by their
accumulation and the entire absence of provision for them. Just at this
time B. got back from Yorktown, bringing a cheering account of the
hospitals there, and at the same time the arrival of large medical
supplies and hospital furniture was reported, so that I had little
difficulty in bringing about a return to the plan of yesterday.

The substance of the plan was this. The _Elm City_, able to accommodate
four hundred patients, was to remain at White House as a receiving
hospital; the _Spaulding_ as a reserve transport in case of a battle; on
the occurrence of a battle, the serious cases of sickness to be
transferred to the _Spaulding_, and the _Elm City_ used as receiving
hospital for surgical cases; the _Knickerbocker_ to remain as a surgical
transport. If an engagement should occur at the close of the week, the
_Spaulding_ would take to sea three or four hundred sick, freeing the
shore hospitals to that extent, making about six hundred with what the
_Webster_ would take; the _Webster_ to return and take two hundred more
the next week; the _Knickerbocker_ to take two hundred and fifty every
twenty-four hours to Fortress Monroe; thus relieving the shore hospitals
to the extent of two thousand by the end of the next week, which would
probably be all that was necessary. The _Webster_ and _Spaulding_, being
low between decks, crowded with berths, and deficient in ventilation,
were not suited to the reception of sick and wounded for any other
purpose than that of immediate transportation.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(A.) To relieve myself of further responsibility in case of another
change of plan, I wrote a memorandum of what we expected to be able to
do, and got the Director to sign his approval of it. He told me
yesterday that he meant to have those who were to take ship carefully
selected, and that he did not believe there were half a dozen who ought
to go from here. I however saw being put on board the usual proportion
of sick-in-quarters men, and told him. He attributed it to disregard of
his orders by volunteer surgeons, a difficulty for which he declared
that there was no remedy short of an act of Congress. I found Dr. ——,
his chief executive officer, and got him to go to the sick camp, from
which the men were being brought, when he discovered, as he afterwards
told me, that the surgeon in charge had heard a report that the Sanitary
Commission intended to have a receiving-ship here, and on his own
responsibility (assuming that the _Webster_ was to be used for this
purpose) was sending men on board at random, and without reference to
the gravity of their cases, his object being merely to get room. He also
found that ambulances coming in from the advance had entered the train
after it left the hospital, and the men thus brought to the shore were
allowed to go on board with those brought from the hospital, as if
assigned for sea transportation by the surgeon in charge. I begged him
to go on board and send off such as he found of these interlopers, but
he thought it impracticable; and finally, instead of the half-dozen
proposed by the Medical Director yesterday, I found that he had passed
two hundred and fifty on board. Meantime the tents before spoken of had
been finally pitched on a large field near the White House. They were
bare of everything but shelter for the sick flocking in from the
different regiments. A thousand men will probably be in them before
to-morrow night. All day long to-day the surgeons and young men of the
Commission have been working over there, and we have sent over
bed-sacks, straw, blankets, and supplies for several hundred. After much
sanitary poking, pushing, and oiling, the tents are some of them
floored, and five great pig-kettles are started boiling, and kept always
full of food for the sick. The patients will, however, greatly
overbalance the provision made for them. It is hard work to galvanize
the proper authorities into action. The post hospital record certifies
now to sixteen hundred. There are five surgeons and assistants, one
steward, no apothecary, and no nurses, except those selected from among
the patients. Two wells have been dug, but the water of neither has as
yet been fit for using. Water is brought from the White House well,
nearly a quarter of a mile distant, and until yesterday the whole supply
was brought by hand. It is now wagoned in casks. We sent up three casks
of ice from the _Webster's_ stock, which was found of great value. The
greater part of the men are not very ill, and, with nice nourishment,
comfortable rest, and good nursing, would be got ready to join their
regiments in a week or two; but this is just what they are not likely to

The weather is growing excessively hot, and the army is pushing forward
in a malarious country in the face of the enemy. We have received a few
wounded men from the skirmishes of yesterday. There is obviously great
danger that we shall be altogether overwhelmed with sick and wounded in
a few days. If the recommendation of my telegram of Sunday is adopted by
the Surgeon-General, and a complete hospital for six thousand sent here
from Washington, there will be reasonable provision for what is to be
expected; otherwise it is dreadful to think of it. There is no doubt
that we might take care of a few hundred on our boats,—probably save the
lives of some of them; but considering what a week, or, for that matter,
a day, may bring forth, I think it right to throw the authorities still
on their resources as much as we can, and, if possible, force them to
enlarge their shore accommodations.... Nor, when ready, shall I be
inclined to hasten the removal of the sick. I shall do my best to avoid
taking any but serious cases. It is plain that the facilities so far
offered in this respect have been abused, and that serious evils have
come of it. Those responsible for the care of the sick here—I mean the
military administrative as well as medical officers—have made the
presence of the transports near them an excuse for neglecting all proper
local provision, and evidently have the idea that, in hurrying patients
on board vessels, they relieve themselves of responsibility.[4] I saw
this danger from the first, and have (I wish the Surgeon-General and our
friends to be sure of this) constantly done all that I could to
counteract it, not only by verbal protest, but by a habit of action
which I know that B. and other friends here, who have not had the duty
of looking at the matter as comprehensively as I have, have not been
able always to regard as justifiable....

Footnote 4:

  The reader must constantly remember that the Commission did not supply
  _vessels_, but merely furnished a few vessels already held by
  government with proper hospital arrangements, and that these were at
  the command of the medical authorities of the army, the Commission
  being responsible only for their internal administration.

But this is not all. Of this hundred thousand men, I suppose not ten
thousand were ever entirely without a mother's, a sister's, or a wife's
domestic care before. They are wonderfully like school-boys. Then this
is really the first experience of nearly all our officers (who are their
schoolmasters and housekeepers) in active campaigning. They are learning
to take care of their men as a matter of self-interest. The men need to
learn to make themselves content—of contented habit—away from home, to
understand that this is in the bargain. It is obvious from the remarks
we hear, that the rumor that sick men are to be sent home has a
disturbing influence upon the education of the army in both these

The _Knickerbocker_ has arrived while I have been writing; thus I have
all the elements of my plan approved by the Medical Director on Monday.
But the question still troubles me greatly, If they should have several
hundred more patients on shore than they have tents or beds for, and
among them all several hundreds seriously ill, such as would properly be
sent North, shall I break up my reserve, and have no provision for the
avalanche of suffering which a great battle before Richmond would send
down upon us? I am afraid that I stand alone in my resistance to the
demands of the present.[5]

Footnote 5:

  The wisdom of this resistance was satisfactorily established a few
  days later, as will be seen.

                  *       *       *       *       *

As it has been publicly reported that the Commission removed forty
thousand men from the Peninsula, it should be here stated that the total
number of soldiers, sick and wounded, conveyed on the vessels in charge
of the Commission, during the summer, was eight thousand. Except under
positive orders, which it was not at liberty to disregard, the
Commission took no patient on board its vessels until the opinion of a
medical officer was had that his wound or illness was of such a
character that he could not be fit for duty within thirty days. This was
a standing order of the service, and was strictly enforced.

It is impossible to give in small compass an adequate idea of the
difficulties of the duty which the Commission had taken upon itself;
difficulties which, though seeming small in themselves, were terrible,
because the lives of men frequently hung on their being overcome, and
that instantly. To present a full picture, in true and living colors, we
must be qualified to throw over the whole the atmosphere of sympathy and
enthusiasm which animated every heart in presence of our suffering
soldiers. On a fixed and recognized basis we can do almost anything;
grooves are soon formed, in which affairs run smoothly. But to build
with infinite toil on shifting sands; to be called upon to fill leaky
cisterns and keep them full; to give our best strength to labors, the
results of which often fade while we work,—these things require a great
and good cause, and a certainty of being sustained.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(A.) All our vessels are, from the nature of engagement and intentions
of those on board, in a constant state of pre-organization and
disorganization. Our relations to the crews (seamen, firemen, &c.), upon
whom we are dependent, differ in every vessel. Scarcely a day passes in
which there is not a real mutiny among them, in which we have no right
to interfere, but which it is necessary we should manage to control. We
have scarcely any established rights, and are carrying on a very large
business by the favor of a multitude of agents, whose favor in each case
hangs upon a separate string. Every hour brings its own difficulty,
which must be met by itself.... Except in the results accomplished, I
need not say that the whole duty is exceedingly unpleasant, from the
amount of dependence without rights, and of command without authority.

No two individuals have the same understanding of our duty or of our
rights; no two expect the same thing of us; no two look in the same
direction for the remedy of any abuse, or the supply of any organic
deficiency to which attention is called. I must caution you again not to
form theories of what we are to do, and expect us to do it. We are
liable to occurrences every day which make a new disposition of all the
forces necessary. In fact, new and previously unexpected arrangements
are made daily, and these involve a continual modification of all plans.
All that can be done is to be as fully prepared as possible for whatever
can occur.... I must act a little blindly, sometimes,—at all events,
cannot always give you my reasons readily for what I determine upon.
Twice I have come up the river from hardly anything more than a crude
notion that it would be prudent to be feeling that way, and would cost
but little; and in each case it proved to be what —— calls "a _grand_
good providence," leading to a complete change in our tactics, and to
the saving of many lives.... The ladies are all, in every way, far
beyond anything I could have been induced to expect of them. The
dressers (two-years medical students) are generally ready for whatever
may be required, and work heroically. The male nurses are of all sorts.
The convalescent soldiers have been the most satisfactory, because there
was not among them the slightest taint of the prevailing sentiment of
the volunteer nurses, that they were going upon an indiscriminate
holiday scramble of Good-Samaritanism. There cannot be too much care in
future that whoever comes here on any business comes, not to do such
work as he thinks himself fit for, but such as he will be assigned to,
and under such authority as will be assigned him. He or she must come as
distinctly under an obligation of duty in this respect as if under pay,
and must expect to submit to the same discipline.... But, in truth, I
have had comparatively little trouble of this sort as yet, and in all
respects am surprised at the good sense and working qualities of
companies made up as ours have been.

As an illustration of the sudden changes of arrangement often found
necessary at a moment's notice, a report is found, in which it is stated
that on one occasion, after overcoming great difficulties in preparing
the _Spaulding_ for the conveyance of the sick,—having procured a party
of thirty persons, including four surgeons and four ladies from New
York, to go on board of her—on the 26th of May, while taking sick on
board, an order was received immediately to remove all the Sanitary
Commission's people and effects, and send her to Fortress Monroe to
convey troops. The process of embarkation was at once arrested; but by
permission of Colonel Ingalls, the post commander, the removal of those
on board was delayed until an answer could be received to the following
telegram, which was immediately despatched to the Assistant Secretary of
War, Mr. Tucker, then at Fortress Monroe.

(Telegram.) "The _Spaulding_ was assigned to the Sanitary Commission
after the _Ocean Queen_ had been taken from them. The _Spaulding_ was
not well adapted to the duty, but was the only vessel then on York River
which I would accept. There was no other, and there is none now here in
which I would consent that a sick man should be sent outside. The
hospitals at Washington and Alexandria are over-full, and I suppose the
sick must go outside if they are to be taken away. There is here no
hospital but a few tents pitched by the sick themselves, in which robust
men could not spend a night, crowded as they are, with impunity. There
is not the first step taken to provide for the wounded in case a battle
should occur. We have been two weeks trying, under great difficulties,
to get the _Spaulding_ tolerably fitted for the business; have a
hospital corps of thirty, sent for her from New York; one hundred very
sick men on board, one hundred more along-side; shall we go on, or

After waiting an hour, the Harbor-master's boat came past, hailing with
"Mr. Tucker says, 'Go ahead,' sir!"—and the transshipment of the sick to
the _Spaulding_ from the _Elm City_ was recommenced. The same night, as
it appears from letters, just after dusk, the Harbor-master's boat
appeared again, and Captain Sawtelle, the Master of Transportation,
hailed with—

"I am ordered to have the _Elm City_ and every other available vessel
ready to leave here, with water and coal enough for eighteen hours'
steaming, by break of day. You will oblige me very much if you will get
the _Elm City_ ready for me. How much coal has she on board?"

"Not half enough for eighteen hours' steaming!"

"That is bad. I have to coal half a dozen others to-night; there'll not
be time for all."

"Very well, sir; then we'll manage it, by clubbing that which is on the
_Knickerbocker_ and the _Elizabeth_."

"If you can do that I shall be very glad, for the order is urgent."

                  *       *       *       *       *

(B.) We had just got through with a very long and hard day's work
loading the _Spaulding_, and were sitting at supper when this order
came; but there was no help for it, so "All hands!" it was again for a
hard night's work.

All the hospital fittings and furnishings of the _Elm City_, including
the bedding, commissary and small stores, medical stores, and what not,
required for the hospital treatment of four hundred and fifty sick men
and the maintenance of their attendants, had to be unshipped, packed,
and conveyed to the store-boats, and ninety sick men, some of them very
sick indeed,—two died during the night,—to be transferred and put to bed
again on the _Spaulding_ and _Knickerbocker_. It was a very dark night,
and most of those who were engaged in this work were men of sedentary
occupations,—students and clerks,—and women accustomed to a quiet and
refined domestic life, and, as I said, all had just gone through with an
extraordinarily fatiguing day's work. Some few broke down before
morning. At the same time twenty tons of coal were to be got on board
the _Elm City_ from the _Elizabeth_ and the _Knickerbocker_, and wheeled
to her deck-bunkers. Then quarters had to be found for her whole
hospital company, as well as provisions, on the other boats of the
fleet, and to accommodate this necessity a general reorganization was
found to be necessary. This was our Sunday's night-work after our
Sunday's day-work. It was all done, everybody in place, and, except
those required to watch the sick, asleep by four o'clock, and the
_Spaulding_ (with 350 sick in bed) and the _Elm City_ (stripped for
battle) both reported ready to sail with the morning tide.

                  *       *       *       *       *

One day later, B. writes:—

"Here we are at work again upon the _Elm City_. Sunday, we spent all
night in stripping her, and now we have a day and night's work at least
before us in handling over again the very same articles, refitting her
for hospital service. It is an exercise of patience, but it must be done
without delay. After we had got her all ready for transporting troops, a
change in the plans of government occurred, and on application she was
again assigned to the Commission."

                  *       *       *       *       *

(M.) The _Spaulding_ is bunked in every hole and corner, and is a most
inconvenient ship for carrying sick men, everything above decks running
to first-classing, and everything below to steerage. The last hundred
patients were put on board, to relieve the over-crowded shore hospital,
late last night. Though these night scenes on the hospital ships are
part of our daily living, a fresh eye would find them dramatic. We are
awakened in the dead of night by a sharp steam-whistle, and soon after
feel ourselves clawed by the little tugs on either side our big
ship,—and at once the process of taking on hundreds of men, many of them
crazed with fever, begins. There's the bringing of the stretchers up the
side ladder between the two boats, the stopping at the head of it, where
the names and home addresses of all who can speak are written down, and
their knapsacks and little treasures numbered and stacked;—then the
placing of the stretchers on the platform, the row of anxious faces
above and below decks, the lantern held over the hold, the word given to
"Lower!" the slow-moving ropes and pulleys, the arrival at the bottom,
the turning down of the anxious faces, the lifting out of the sick man,
and the lifting him into his bed;—and then the sudden change from cold,
hunger, and friendlessness, to positive comfort and satisfaction,
winding up with his invariable verdict,—if he can speak,—"This is just
like home!"

"Jimmy," eleven years old, one of the strange little city boys who are
always drifting about, ran away from home last summer, after a drum,
finally turning up on our stern-wheeler as char-boy, where he recognized
a friend among the sick men, and devoted himself to him in the prettiest
way. His runaway fever over, he longed for his mother; so we tucked him
into the _Spaulding_ and sent him home. The astonishing lack of common
sense among men strikes us very forcibly.... Those who came down here
have hearts, plenty of them, but not more than a head to four, and so
they run round the wards, wondering where the best tea is, and the
ice-water, which they are probably looking at, at the time, and ask
questions about everything under the sun.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(B.) The _Spaulding_, being all in order, with her sick men, corps of
nine surgeons, ladies, and nurses, was started off, and the reserve
force went on board the _Knickerbocker_.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(A.) I have just bought what is left of a small cargo of ice, probably
sixty tons, at twelve dollars, sent here on speculation for sale to
sutlers. We are now fairly well supplied at all points, I think.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(A.) We began taking sick on the _Elm City_ this afternoon. I
telegraphed you about the crowded state of the post hospital. We had fed
this morning sixty men who had been turned away from it on the ground
that there was no room. I wrote to the surgeon in charge about this, and
B. called on him with my note. He merely said that he thought there
could not have been _as many_ as sixty turned away! These sixty men we
heard of as lying upon the railroad, without food, and with no one to
look after them. So some of the ladies got at once into the
stern-wheeler _Wissahickon_, which is the Commission's carriage, and
with provisions, basins, towels, soap, blankets, etc., went up to the
railroad-bridge, cooking tea and spreading bread as they went. After
twenty minutes' steaming, the men were found, put on freight-cars, and
pushed down to the landing, fed, washed, and taken on the tug to the
_Elm City_. Dr. Ware, in his hard-working on shore, had found fifteen
other sick men, without food, and miserable; there being "no room" for
them in the tent hospital. He had studied the neighborhood extensively
for shanties, found one, and put his men into it. The floor of the one
room up-stairs was six inches deep in beans, and made a good bed for
them, and in the morning the same party ran up on the tug, cooking
breakfast for them as they ran, scrambling eggs in a wash-basin over a

                  *       *       *       *       *

(A.) The army struck its tents one night last week, and silently stole
away up the river. Bottom Bridge is ours, and no enemy met; the railroad
is repaired at White House, and trains will be running to-morrow;
barges, loaded with rolling stock and cannon, have been passing us on
the river all day.

The sick brought on board the _Elm City_ this afternoon had been lying
in a puddle, which nearly covered them. The water stood several inches
deep in some of the tents. These men were selected by Dr. Ware, as the
worst cases out of sixteen hundred in the shore hospital. (Several died
before they reached the mouth of the river.) Dr. Ware himself laid hold
to put up tents to protect men before the storm, and said that he saw
half a dozen tents yet remaining, not put up at nightfall, though men
were constantly arriving, and were left out in the ambulances.

If an engagement occurs this side of Richmond, my opinion is that we
shall have all the horrors of Pittsburg Landing in an aggravated form. I
have tried in vain to awaken some of the Head-quarters officers to a
sense of the danger; but while they admit all I say, they regard it as a
part of war, and say, "After all, there never was a war in which the
sick were as well taken care of. England does no better by her wounded;
true, they will suffer a good deal for a time, but that is inevitable in
war," &c.

What ought to be done? The Surgeon-General cannot at once do our
sea-transport business as well as we. By recruiting deficiencies at each
trip, we can for the present continue to employ the _Webster_ and the
_Spaulding_ for this purpose advantageously. We can maintain the
distribution of supplies. We want also a depot at this end for our
sea-transports. For the rest, the Surgeon-General can at once have it
done a great deal better than we, if he can place two steamboats under
the Medical Director's orders, in addition to the _Commodore_ and
_Vanderbilt_, equip them, or take them equipped from us; put one good
authoritative surgeon on board each, with two to four assistant
surgeons, and six to ten dressers and stewards, and twenty to thirty
privates for nurses, and require certain rules, to secure decent
provision for the sick, to be maintained on them.

It is ludicrous to see the enthusiasm of some of the surgeons at the
outset about details; the cleansing of patients, numbering, records of
disease, _pure_ water, &c., and their entire forgetfulness and inaptness
to provide for more essential matters,—food, buckets, cups, vessels of
any sort, and water of any sort. Doctors, nurses, and philosophers are
much easier to be had, it seems, than men who would be able to keep an
oyster-cellar or a barber-shop with credit.

Dr. T. says that he is pestered by volunteer surgeons, who leave their
business at home to have a short holiday professional excursion, and who
always expect to be put in the "imminent deadly breach" at once. He has
not tents, horses, forage, nor table-room for them. Don't let any more
surgeons come here, if you can help it. We try to treat them civilly,
but all, ashore and afloat, feel anything but civilly to a man when he
graciously proposes to be entertained and sent to the front as an
honored guest, because, you understand, he is not one of your
"physicians," but a "surgeon," and not at all unwilling to take an
interesting gunshot case in hand, though everybody else declines it! If
there is anything the regimental surgeons hate, it is to let these
magnanimous surgical pretenders (it is of the pretenders I speak) get
hold of their pet cases. For this reason I hope ——, who has a name, will
assume the responsibility of our surgical hospital.

                               CHAPTER V.

(A.) _May 31st._—Sick men arriving Friday night by the railroad could
not be provided for in the crowded field-hospital ashore, which still
remained of but one fifth the capacity in tent-room which I urged it
should be made three weeks ago. To make more room, on Saturday morning,
31st, we were ordered to take off four hundred upon the _Elm City_. They
were sent to her by smaller steamboats, and the last load, which brought
the number up to four hundred and fifty, arrived so late Saturday night
that she could not leave till daylight Sunday morning. The orders were
to deliver the men at Yorktown and return immediately. I urged Dr. ——,
who was the surgeon in charge, and the captain and engineer to do their
best, and telegraphed to have every preparation made at Yorktown.

_June 1st._—We had sent out two parties to look for straggling sick, and
visit the hospitals in the rear of the left wing. One of these returned
at noon, having been by Cumberland to New Kent Court-House. From Dr. ——,
who was in charge of the other, I received a despatch about sunset,
stating that his party were assisting the surgeons in a field-hospital,
to which wounded were crowding from a battle then in progress. Soon
after midnight this party arrived on board, having come from the front
with a train of wounded, and we then had our first authentic information
of the fierce battle in which our whole left wing had been engaged.

                  *       *       *       *       *

On that Sabbath day, after the departure of the _Elm City_, the wounded
of the battle of Fair Oaks began to arrive in large numbers by railroad.
After energetic remonstrances, with the responsible medical officer, on
the part of the Commission, and a vain struggle to secure an adherence
to some plan by which care and method in their shipment could be
expected, a frightful scene of confusion and misery ensued at the
landing, in the midst of which three government boats and two of those
assigned to the Commission were loaded with wounded. We omit the painful
particulars, because they could not be given without casting the gravest
censure where censure would now be useless.[6] To understand the
extracts which follow, it is only necessary to know, that so well were
things managed on the _Elm City_ (which, it will be remembered, left,
loaded with sick, in the morning), that she had proceeded to Yorktown,
discharged her sick, and returned with beds made, reporting ready to
receive wounded at White House before sunset the same day.

Footnote 6:

  Some idea of the causes of the confusion at White House at this time
  may be formed from a communication addressed by the representative of
  the Commission to the Medical Director, of which a copy is given in
  the Appendix (C), together with a memorandum of arrangements suggested
  subsequently, to provide against its recurrence. The officer who seems
  to have been most palpably at fault at White House has since been
  publicly disgraced for a similar offence.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(M.) The Commission boats were all here, and ready to remove the wounded
of the battle of the 1st and 2d of June. They filled and left with their
accustomed order and promptitude. After that, other boats, detailed by
government for hospital service, were brought up. These boats were not
in the control of the Commission. There was no one specially appointed
to take charge of them, no one to receive the wounded at the station, no
one to ship them properly, no one to see that the boats were supplied
with proper stores. Of course the Commission came forward to do all it
could at a moment's notice, but it had no power; only the right of
charity. It could neither control nor check the fearful confusion that
ensued, as train after train came in, and the wounded were brought and
thrust upon the various boats. But it did nobly what it could. Night and
day its members worked, not, you must remember, in its own
well-organized service, but in the hard duty of making the best of a bad
case. Not the smallest preparation was found, in at least three of the
boats, for the common food of the men. As for sick-food, stimulants,
drinks, &c., such things scarcely exist in the medical mind of the army,
and there was not even a pail or a cup to distribute food, had there
been any.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(N.) _June 5th...._ We had been helping the ladies on the _Elm City_ all
night, had returned to our quarters, and just washed and dressed, when
Captain —— came on board, to say that several hundred wounded men were
lying at the landing,—that the _Daniel Webster_ No. 2 had been filled,
and the surplus was being sent on board the _Vanderbilt_,—that the
confusion was terrible; there were no stores on board either vessel. Of
course the best in our power had to be done. Our supply-boat _Elizabeth_
came up. We begged Mr. —— not to refrain from sending us because we had
been up all night; he said that he wouldn't send us, but if, in view of
so much misery, we chose to offer our services to the United States
surgeon in charge, he thought it would be merciful. We went on board,
and such a scene as we entered and lived in for two days I trust never
to see again. Men in every condition of horror, shattered and shrieking,
were being brought in on stretchers, borne by contrabands, who dumped
them anywhere, banged the stretchers against pillars and posts, and
walked over the men without compassion. There was no one to direct what
ward or what beds they were to go into. The men had mostly been without
food since Saturday, but there was nothing on board for them, and the
cook was only engaged to cook for the ship, and not for the hospital.

The first thing _wounded_ men want is lemonade and ice (with the sick,
stimulants are the first thing); after that, we give them tea and bread.
Imagine a boat like the _Bay State_, filled on every deck, every
berth,—and every square inch of room covered with wounded men,—even the
stairs and gangways and guards filled with those who are less badly
wounded,—and then imagine fifty well men, on every kind of errand,
hurried and impatient, rushing to and fro over them, every touch
bringing agony to the poor fellows,—while stretcher after stretcher
still comes along, hoping to find an empty place; and then imagine what
it was to keep calm ourselves, and make sure that each man on our own
boat, the _Elm City_, and then on this, was properly refreshed and fed.
We _got through_ about one o'clock at night, Mrs. —— and Miss —— having
come off other duty, and reinforced us. We were sitting for a few
moments resting and talking it over, and bitterly asking why a
government, so lavish and so perfect in its other departments, should
leave its wounded almost literally to take care of themselves, when a
message came that one hundred and fifty men were just arriving by the
cars. It was raining in torrents, and both boats were full. We went on
shore again; the same scene repeated. The _Kennebec_ was brought up, and
the one hundred and fifty men carried across the _Daniel Webster_ No. 2
to her, with the exception of some fearfully wounded ones who could not
be touched in the darkness and rain, and were, therefore, left in the
cars. We gave refreshments to all; a detail of young men from the
_Spaulding_ coming up in time to assist, and the officers of the
_Sebago_ (gunboat), who had seen how hard pressed we were in the
afternoon, volunteering for the night-watch. Add to this sundry members
of Congress, who, if they talked much, at least worked well. We went to
bed at daylight with _breakfast_ on our minds. At half past six we were
all on board the _Webster_ No. 2, and the breakfast of six hundred men
was got through with before our own.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(A lady on the _Knickerbocker_.) _Sunday._—"Three hundred wounded to
come on board!" I wish you could see the three hundred white beds, with
a clean shirt and drawers laid ready for each man.... They began to
bring them in about noon. Many of them were shockingly hurt; but the men
were proud of their wounds, and one of them, an artist, private of a New
York regiment, was thankful that he had only lost a leg,—"so glad it
wasn't his arm!" We went directly at work washing them, doing what we
could, too, at dressing wounds which had been hastily bandaged on the
battle-field thirty-six hours before. Men very patient and grateful

                  *       *       *       *       *

(A.) _Sunday Night._—The _Knickerbocker_ had, by estimate, three hundred
and fifty on board. The night being fine, many were disposed of on the
outer decks, and before I left, at eleven o'clock, nearly all had been
washed, dressed, and put to bed decently, and were as comfortable as
circumstances would admit of our making them. All had received needed
nourishment, and such surgical and medical attention as was immediately
demanded. Leaving the _Knickerbocker_ in this satisfactory condition, I
came back in a small boat, at midnight, to the landing, where I found
that the _Elm City_ already had five hundred wounded on board. I ordered
her to run down and anchor near the _Knickerbocker_. There had been a
special order in her case from the Medical Director to go to Washington.
(I judge that this was given under the misapprehension that she had
failed to go to Yorktown, and had her sick still on board.) She was
unable to go at once for want of coal, which could not be furnished her
till the evening of the next day (Monday). This finished the
Commission's boats for the present. The _State of Maine_ had been
ordered to the landing by the Harbor-master, and the wounded remaining
on shore, excluded from the _Elm City_, were flocking on board of her.
Our ladies on the _Elm City_ sent them some food, and we put on board
from our supply-boat bedding and various stores, of which there was
evident need, without waiting to be asked, and without finding any one
to receive them, the surgeons being fully engrossed in performing
operations of pressing necessity.

The battle had been renewed in the morning of this day (Sunday), and we
had sent a relief party, composed of medical students and male nurses,
with supplies of stimulants, lint, etc., to the battle-field hospitals.
A portion of this party returned about midnight, with another large
train of wounded. All our force that could possibly be withdrawn from
duty on the boats was immediately employed in distributing drink, and in
carrying the wounded from the railroad to the boat. Some men died on the
cars. I made another visit to the _Knickerbocker_ in the morning, and on
my return (Monday), found that a train had just arrived, and the wounded
men were walking in a throng across the scow to the _Webster_ No. 2,
Government Hospital, the only boat remaining at the landing. I knew that
she was not prepared for them, and sent for Dr. S., the representative
of the Medical Director. Dr. S. could not be found. I asked for the
medical officer in charge of the _Webster_ No. 2. The Captain said there
was none, and that he had no orders except to bring his boat to the
landing. I inquired for the surgeon in charge of the railroad train, but
could find none. There was no one in charge of the wounded. Meantime
they were taken out of the cars, and assisted towards the landing by
volunteer bystanders, until the gang-planks of the boat, the
landing-scow, and the adjoining river-banks were crowded. I finally
concluded that Dr. S. must have intended them to go on board the
_Webster_ No. 2. I could find no one in the crowd who professed to have
received his orders, but, as many were nearly fainting in the sun, I
advised the Captain to let them come on board. He did so, and they
hobbled on, till the boat was crowded in all parts. The _Small_ was
outside the _Webster_ No. 2, and our ladies administered as far as
possible to their relief. Going on shore, I found still a great number,
including the worst cases, lying on litters, gasping in the fervid sun.
I do not describe such a scene. The worst cases I had brought upon the
_Small_. Two died on the forward deck, under the shade of the awning,
within half an hour. One was senseless when brought on; the other
revived for a moment, while Mrs. G. bathed his head with ice-water, just
long enough to whisper the address of his father, and to smile
gratefully, then passed away, holding her hand.

... At the time of which I am now writing (Monday afternoon), wounded
men were arriving by every train, entirely unattended, or with at most a
detail of two soldiers, two hundred or more of them in a train. They
were packed as closely as they could be stowed in the common
freight-cars, without beds, without straw, at most with a wisp of hay
under their heads. Many of the lighter cases came on the roof of the
cars. They arrived, dead and living together, in the same close box,
many with awful wounds festering and swarming with maggots. Recollect it
was midsummer in Virginia, clear and calm. The stench was such as to
produce vomiting with some of our strong men, habituated to the duty of
attending the sick. How close they were packed, you may infer from a
fact reported by my messenger to Dr. Tripler, who, on his return from
Head-quarters, was present at the loading of a car. A surgeon was told
that it was not possible to get another man upon the floor of the car.
"Then," said he, "these three men must be laid in _across the others_,
for they have got to be cleared out from here by this train!" This
outrage was avoided, however.

Need I tell you that the women were always ready to press into these
places of horror, going to them in torrents of rain, groping their way
by dim lantern-light, at all hours of night, carrying spirits and
ice-water; calling back to life those in despair from utter exhaustion,
or again and again catching for mother or wife the last faint whispers
of the dying?

One Dr. —— was at this time the only man on the ground who claimed to
act as a medical officer of the United States. He was without
instructions and without authority, and, though miraculously active,
could do nothing toward bringing about the one thing wanted, orderly
responsibility, and while he was there, ——, who might otherwise have
done something, would not interfere. Dr. Ware, of our party, was at one
time the only other medical man on the ground. The _Spaulding_, Dr. ——
in charge, arrived Monday night, but not in a condition to be made
directly useful, being laden with government stores, which could not at
once be removed by the quartermaster. Her physicians and students,
however, could never have been more welcome. I put one half her eager
company at once at work on the _Webster_ No. 2. Captain Sawtelle, at my
request, pitched a hospital tent for the ladies at the river-bank by the
railroad, behind which a common camp-kitchen was established. To this
tent quantities of stores have now been conveyed, and soup and tea in
camp-kettles are kept constantly hot there. Before this arrangement was
complete, and until other stores arrived, we were for a time very hard
put to it to find food of any kind to meet the extraordinary demand upon
us. Just as everything was about giving out, B. found a sutler, who told
him that he had five hundred loaves of bread on board of a boat which
had just arrived at Cumberland, but he had no way of getting it
immediately up. A conditional bargain was immediately struck, and the
_Elizabeth_ hastened off to Cumberland to bring up the bread. When it
arrived, to our horror, it proved to be so mouldy it could not be used.
B., almost crying with disappointment, started again to make a search
through the exhausted sutlers' stores of the post. While doing so, he
came upon a heap of boxes and barrels unopened and "unaccounted for."
"What's all this?" "Sutlers' goods." "Who owns them?" "I do. I am the
sutler of the —— New York, up to the front. I want to get them up there,
but I can't get transportation." "What's in here?" said B. in great
excitement. "Mack'rel in them barrels." "What's in the boxes!" "That's
wine biscuit. There's two barrels of molasses and a barrel of vinegar.
I've got forty barrels of soft tack, too." "Where's that?" "That's one
of 'em"; and B., hardly waiting for leave, seized a musket, and jammed a
head off. It was aerated bread, and not a speck of mould upon it! He
bought the sutler's whole stock on the spot, and in half an hour the
ladies were dealing out bread spread with molasses, and iced vinegar and

The trains with wounded and sick arrive at all hours of the night; the
last one before daylight, generally getting in between twelve and one.
As soon as the whistle is heard, Dr. Ware is on hand, (he has all the
hard work of this kind to do,) and the ladies are ready in their tent;
blazing trench-fires, and kettles all of a row, bright lights and savory
supplies, piles of fresh bread and pots of coffee,—the tent door opened
wide,—the road leading to it from the cars dotted all along the side
with little fires or lighted candles. Then, the first procession of
slightly wounded, who stop at the tent-door on their way to the boat,
and get cups of hot coffee with as much milk (condensed) as they want,
followed by the slow-moving line of bearers and stretchers, halted by
our Zouave, while the poor fellows on them have brandy, or wine, or iced
lemonade given them. It makes but a minute's delay to pour something
down their throats, and put oranges in their hands, and saves them from
exhaustion and thirst before, in the confusion which reigns on most of
the crowded government transports, food can be served them. When the
worst cases have been sent on board, those which are to go to the shore
hospital the next day are put into the twenty Sibley tents, pitched for
the Commission, along the railroad, and our detail of five men start,
each with his own pail of hot coffee or hot milk, and crackers and soft
bread, with lemonade and ice-water, and feed them from tent to tent, a
hundred men every night; sometimes one hundred and fifty are thus taken
care of, for whom no provision has been made by government. Dr. Ware
sees them all, and knows that they have blankets, attendants,
stimulants, &c. for the night. When the morning comes, ambulances are
generally sent for them from the shore hospital, but occasionally they
are left on the Commission's hands for three days at a time. They would
fare badly but for the sleepless devotion of Dr. Ware, who, night after
night, works among them, often not leaving them till two or three
o'clock in the morning. The ladies from the _Webster_, and other
Commission boats, visit the shore hospital between their voyages, and
carry to the sick properly prepared soups and gruels.

_June 3d._ I cannot disentangle now the events of the last few days, nor
have I a very exact idea of the numbers we have taken care of. We put
two hundred and fifty on _Webster_ No. 1 on Monday, among them General
Devens and Colonel Briggs of Massachusetts, and, fearing that all
intermediate hospitals would be full, and the weather continuing very
hot, sent her, in the absence of orders, to Boston. The same day the
_Vanderbilt_ and _Knickerbocker_ were filled, and to-day the
_Spaulding_. Between two and three thousand wounded have been sent here
this week, and at least nine tenths of them have been fed and cared for,
as long as they remained, exclusively by the Commission.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(M.) Generally the government hospital boats are ready and glad to
accept our assistance, but now and then one will stand off in the stream
"all ready," needing no help, till finally, and when the sick are coming
on board, at the last moment, not a pound of bread or ounce of meat will
be found ready for them. The men are expected to bring rations for a day
or so, in their haversacks, haversacks meanwhile being lost at the
front, and men being too badly hurt to think of any such provision....
This is where the Commission comes in, and kettles of soup and tea, with
fresh soft bread, gruel, and stimulants, are sent to all these boats
from the tent kitchen, and with them go cups and spoons, and attendants
to distribute the food. Many hundreds of men have been helped in this
way, who, without such a provision, would, to say the least, have
greatly suffered. Two days ago there was a hospital transport near us,
"all ready," according to their own account, and after the wounded men
came on board, before the first surgical case could be attended to, they
had to rush over to our boat for lint, bandages, rags, pins, towels, and
stimulants. One man had been without the slightest nourishment all day
until an hour before his shoulder was taken off; then, when it was too
late, the surgeon hurried over to ask us to take him beef-tea and
egg-nog, and we crossed the coal-barges and administered it; all this
after the Doctor had himself told me that morning that they needed no
help. It is just the same with lint and bandages, sponges and splints,
all which the Commission supplies freely. There was another boat near us
with a good staff and plenty of assistants, and everything looking so
fair that we supposed it all right, particularly as we were assured that
she had been "preparing" for some weeks, and had "all that was
necessary." All day last Sunday they were putting men on board,
selecting four hundred from the five hundred sick and wounded who came
down on Friday to the post hospital, and who were all received on
arrival and taken care of by Dr. Ware and his assistants. When they had
been put on board, and wanted food at the moment, it was not
ready,—plenty of it in the rough, but nothing cooked in anticipation;
and at six o'clock in the evening, as we were crossing the boat from the
_Small_, which lay outside, we found the boat full of very sick men,
feverish and thirsty, and calling for water, and no help at hand. We
asked for basins; there were none on board; and to add to the rest, the
forty "Sisters," who had come down unexpectedly, by some one's order,
had all struck for keys to their state-rooms, and sat about on their
large trunks, forbidden to stir by the Padre, who was in a high state of
ecclesiastical disgust on the deck of the _Knickerbocker_, at not
finding provision made for them, including a chapel. —— labored with the
indignant old gentleman upon the unreasonableness of expecting to find
confessionals, &c. erected on the battle-field, but to no purpose. There
sat the forty "Sisters," clean and peaceful, with their forty umbrellas
and their forty baskets, fastened to their places by the Padre's eye,
and not one of them was allowed to come over and help us. So our boat's
company went to work, Dr. Ware getting for us all we needed from the
Commission's supplies, and before the boat left, the sickest men were
washed and fed; large pails of beef-tea, milk-punch, and arrow-root were
made, enough to last for the worst cases until they reached Fortress
Monroe, and at half past seven we climbed over the guards to the deck of
the _Small_, and the boat cast off. We wrote all the names and
home-addresses of the sickest men, who might be speechless on their
arrival, and fastened the papers into their pockets. It was hard to have
the "Sisters," who would have been so faithful, and who were so much
needed, shut away from the sick men by the etiquette of their confessor.
It is unpleasant to abuse people for inefficiency. Possibly they _have_
all that is necessary on these government boats, stowed away in boxes
somewhere, but at the precise moment when it is needed no one knows
anything about it. Such boats either have no one at their head, or where
there is one there are many, which is worse than none.

We have, up to this time, sent away on the Commission's boats, since
Sunday, 1,770 patients. These, after having once been got upon beds,
have been all methodically and tenderly cared for. The difficulties to
be overcome in accomplishing it were enormous, and the greatest of them
of a nature which it would now be ungrateful to describe. We have also
distributed to government boats and hospitals an immense quantity of
clothing and hospital stores.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(A.) Rustic Sidneys are so common we have ceased to think of it. "I
guess that next fellow wants it more'n I do,"—"Won't you jus' go to that
man over there first, if you please, marm; I hearn him kind o' groan
jus' now; must be pretty bad hurt, I guess: I ha'n't got anythin' only a
flesh-wound!" You may always hear such phrases as these repeated by one
after another, as the ladies are moving on their first rounds.

There is not the slightest appearance of a conscious purpose to play the
hero or the Spartan. Groans, and even yells and shrieks, are not always
restrained, but complaint is never uttered, though the Irish, especially
when not very severely wounded, are sometimes pathetically despondent
and lachrymose, and the Frenchmen look unutterable things. But gratitude
and a spirit of patience never fails, a cheerful disposition seldom....
In this republic of suffering, individuals do not often become very
strongly marked in one's mind, but now and then one does so
unaccountably. I am haunted by the laughing eye of a brave New Hampshire
man,—laughing I am sure in agony,—whom I saw on the ——. [This was one of
the worst of the government transports, badly managed, hastily loaded,
and densely crowded.] He was lying closely packed among some badly
wounded rebels, and in giving them some little attention I had passed
him by, because he looked as if he wanted nothing,—so differently from
the others. Afterwards returning that way, they seemed to have all
fallen asleep; but this man's strange, cheerful eye met mine as I was
carefully stepping over his feet. "Do you want anything, my man?" "Well,
now you are there, I don't care if you h'ist that blanket off my leg a
piece; the heft on't kind o' irks my wound." "Certainly," I said;
drawing it down, and knowing at once that he must be painfully wounded;
"is there nothing else I can do for you? wouldn't you like a cup of
water?" "If you've got some cool water handy, I should be obliged to
you. I've got some in my canteen they give me this morning, but it's got
warm." I brought him some, as soon as I could. "That tastes good," says
he. "Do you know where this boat's goin'?" "She goes first to Fortress
Monroe; whether they will send her on from there to New York, or take
you ashore there, I don't know. It will be decided when you get there."
"They mustn't keep me there. I must go home." "Where is your home?"
"It's a place called Keene, up in New Hampshire." "What's the matter
with you?" "Got a ball through my thigh." "Did it touch the bone?" "Yes,
broke it snap off." "Rather high up the thigh, isn't it?" "Just about as
high as it can be; the doctors, they tell me,—well, first they told me
that 'twould kill me if they didn't take it off, and then they told me
'twould kill me if they did take it off, it's so high up, they say they
can't do it. So, accordin' to their account, I've got to go anyhow.
That's what the doctors make out; but I'll tell you what I think: I
think God Almighty's got something to say about that. If he says so,
well and good, I ha'n't got nothin' to say. But I'd like to get back to
Keene. They must send me. I know I'll die if they don't. They must."
"I'm afraid it would hardly do to send you out to sea,—the motion of the
vessel—" "O, I a'n't a bit afraid of that, I don't mind the hurt on't.
The old doctor, he wasn't a goin' to send me; he said 'twan't no use,
and there wasn't no room. But after they'd got about loaded up, the
young doctor came along, and I got hold o' him, and I told him they must
send me, and finally he told 'em they must get me in somehow. That did
hurt, that 'are. Fact is, I fainted away when they put me in, it hurt
so. I never felt anything like that. But I tell you, when I come to, and
found I was rattlin' along down here, I didn't mind how much it hurt."
"Is it painful now?" "Well, when they step round here, and when the
engine goes, it's kinder like a jumping toothache, down there. Well,
yes, it does hurt pretty bad, but I don't mind, if they'll only let me
go home. I guess if they'll let me go home, I can pull through it
somehow; and if I don't,—that's God Almighty's business, too; I a'n't
consarned about that." And he smiled again, that brave, man to man,
knowing New England smile. I found that his wound had not been dressed
in three days; fortunately there was time for me to get Ware to dress it
before the boat left.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(N.) ... We lie here just outside some other vessels at the railroad
wharf. The one nearest the wharf is the _Knickerbocker_ (one of our own
boats, a refreshing sight to sick and well). On it we are placing the
wounded as they now come in, somewhat slowly.[7] Since last night at ten
o'clock there have been one hundred and sixty-five brought on board.
This nearly completes the list of the wounded by the Saturday and Sunday
engagements, excepting some two or three hundred who are in a hospital
on the extreme right, some ten miles from the railroad. There have now
been brought in to the hospital boats about three thousand seven hundred
men, of whom six or eight hundred were rebels. It has been touching to
hear the expressions of surprise and gratitude from some of these young,
fresh-looking Southerners, as they received tender care from the hands
of those who were ministering to them in their sad suffering. Of course
our own wounded were carried off the field first, and this left the
others with wounds for some time not dressed.

Footnote 7:

  This refers to the second loading of the _Knickerbocker_ after the

                  *       *       *       *       *

(M.) Among the sick and wounded who came on board last night were
several Secessionists. One whom I was attending took my hand, with tears
in his eyes: "God bless you, Miss." Another, who was near death,—he had
the most terrible wound I ever saw,—said, gently: "God forgive me,
honey, if it was wrong. I thought it was right, but I don't like it,
that's the truth. I would rather have died for the old flag, but—I
thought it was right. There, let them bury that with me" (showing me a
bracelet of hair on his arm). "It's my wife's, honey; it is. My watch
you may keep, and if ever the time should come when you can send it to
her, please do so."

                  *       *       *       *       *

(A.) Naturally enough, the prisoners do not "bear up" as well as our own
men. There is not only more whimpering, but more fretfulness and
bitterness of spirit, evinced chiefly in want of regard one for another.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(N.) On board the _Commission's boats_ we see the _unavoidable_ miseries
of war, and none other. So soon as the men come on board, all suffering
except that of illness ceases, and we know and see that every comfort
and every chance for recovery is freely supplied. I have a long history
to tell, one of these days, of the gratefulness of the men.... I often
wish,—as I give a comfort to some poor fellow, and see the sense of rest
it gives him, and hear the favorite speech, "O, that's good! it's just
as if mother was here,"—that the man or woman who supplied the means for
the comfort were present to see how blessed it is. Believe me, you may
all give and work in the earnest hope that you alleviate suffering, but
none of you realize what you do,—perhaps you can't even conceive of it
unless you could see your gifts _in use_. I often think of the money and
supplies which, by the goodness of others, passed through my hands
before I left home. How little I then knew their value! How little I
then imagined that each article was to be a life-giving comfort to some
one sufferer!

The object of the Commission is not clearly understood. Those who admire
its noble, wise work naturally feel the wish that larger power _should_
be given to it. But the object of the Commission itself is not this. It
seeks to bring the government to do what the government should do for
its sick and wounded. Until that object is accomplished, the Commission
stands ready to throw itself into the breach, as it did during that
dreadful battle-week, and as it does, more or less, all the time. The
thing it asks for is not the gift of power, but that the government
should come forward and take the work away from it.... There are rumors
that this much-desired change will be effected. I am not afraid to say
that no enterprise ever deserved better of the country than this
undertaken by the Sanitary Commission. Alive to the true state of
things, ever aiming at the _best_ thing to be done, and striving to
bring everything to bear upon that, it has already fulfilled a great
work,—let those who have reaped its benefits say how great and how

Since yesterday morning we have been leading a life which Mr. —— feels
to be one of such utter discomfort that we all try to make the best of
it for his sake, though I will admit to _you_ that it _is_ very wearing
to have no proper place to eat, sit, or sleep. No matter! our _Wilson
Small_ will be back soon, and we shall resume our happy _home_ life on
the top of the old stove. We had luxury which did not please us on board
the ——, and piggishness which pleased us still less on board the ——, and
yet we are the most cheerful set of people to be found anywhere. This
morning, just as Mr. —— was sitting with his head on his hand, sighing
over the horrid breakfast to which we ladies had been subjected, some
one looked up and spied the _Daniel Webster_ coming up. Such vitality as
seized us! The good _Webster_! always perfect, prompt, and true. In a
moment, Dr. Grymes and Captain Bletham were on board, and didn't we
shake hands all round! I suppose you know the _Webster_ had to put into
New York in consequence of a storm, which would have perilled the lives
of many of the sick if they had pursued the voyage to Boston.

I often feel the pleasantness of our (the ladies') footing amongst all
these people, official, military, naval, and medical. They clearly
respect our work, and rightly appreciate it; they strengthen our hands
when they can, they make no foolish speeches, but are direct and
sensible in their acts and words, and when work is over, they do not
feel toward us as "women with a mission," but as ladies, to be with whom
is a grateful relaxation. I must say our position here is particularly
proper and pleasant.... I suppose from eight to ten thousand troops have
arrived here within a week. At first, I scarcely noticed their coming. I
heard their gay bands, and the loud cheering of the men as the
transports rounded the last bend in the river, and came in sight of the
landing, but such sounds of the dreadful _other_ side of war filled my
ears, that, if I heard, I heeded not. For the last night or two, the
arrivals by moonlight, with the cheers and the gay music, have been
really enlivening. _We_ see the dark side of all. You must not, however,
gather only gloomy ideas from me. I see the worst—short of the actual
battle-field—that can be seen. You must not allow yourself to think
there is no brightness because I do not speak of it.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(M.) We have on two of our boats nine contraband women, from the Lee
estate,—real Virginia "darkies," and excellent workers,—who all "wish on
their souls and bodies" that the Rebels could be "put in a house
together and burned up." "Mary Susan," the blackest of them, yielded at
once to the allurements of freedom and fashion, and begged Mr. K. to
take a little commission for her the next time he went to Washington. "I
wants you for to get me, sar, if you please, a lawn dress and
hoop-skirt, sar." The women not working on our boats do the hospital
washing for us in their cabins on the Lee estate, and I have been up
to-day to hurry them with the _Knickerbocker's_ eleven hundred pieces.
The negro quarters are decent and comfortable little houses, with a wide
road between them and the bank which slopes to the river. Any number of
little darkey babies are rushing about, and tipping into the wash-tubs,
and in one cottage we found two absurdly small babies taken care of by
an antique bronze, calling itself grandmother. Babies had the measles,
which wouldn't "come out" on one of them. So she had laid him tenderly
in the open clay oven, and, with hot sage-tea and an unusually large
brick put to his morsels of feet, was proceeding to develop the disease.
Two of the colored women and their husbands work for us at the tent
kitchen, close by the shore, and entertain us by their singing. The
other night Molly and Nellie collected all their friends behind their
tent and commenced, in a sort of monotonous recitativo, a condensed
narrative of the creation of the world; one giving out a line and all
the others joining in. They went straight through from Genesis to
Revelation, following with a confession of sin and exhortation to do
better,—till suddenly their deep humility seemed to strike them as
uncalled for, and they rose at once into the "assurance of the saints,"
and each one instructed her neighbor at the top of her voice to

                     "Go tell all the holy angels,
                     I done, done all I ever can."

Just as they came to a pause the train arrived; midnight, as usual, and
the work of feeding and caring for the sick began again. Dr. Ware was
busy with his nightly work of seeing that the men were properly lifted
from the platform cars and put into the Sibley tents; H. was
"processing" his detail with additional blankets and quilts; and Wagner,
our Zouave, and his five men, were going the rounds with hot tea and
fresh bread, while we were getting ready beef-tea and punch for the use
of the sickest through the night. By two o'clock we could cross the
gang-plank to the _Small_ again, feeling that all the men were quiet and

We women constantly receive noble and patriotic letters from the parents
and friends of the soldiers who have died here among us, one of our
duties being to write to the families of those we have had care of. Mrs.
—— had sent her the other day, from one of the —— Regiment, a little
poem in such delicate acknowledgment of kindness received that I must
copy it:—

          "From old St. Paul till now,
          Of honorable women not a few
          Have left their golden ease in love to do
          The saintly work that Christlike hearts pursue.

          "And such an one art thou,—God's fair apostle,
          Bearing his love in war's horrific train;
          Thy blessed feet follow its ghastly pain,
          And misery, and death, without disdain.

          "To one borne from the sullen battle's roar,
          Dearer the greeting of thy gentle eyes,
          When he aweary, torn, and bleeding lies,
          Than all the glory that the victors prize.

          "When peace shall come, and homes shall smile again,
          A thousand soldier-hearts in Northern climes
          Shall tell their little children, with their rhymes,
          Of the sweet saint who blessed the old war-times."

                              CHAPTER VI.

(A.) We were "stampeded" last night. A train arrived, and the ladies
were at the kitchen ashore getting tea ready. Dr. Ware went to the cars,
as usual, and two or three wounded men were brought down on litters, to
be put on the _Elm City_. The doctor coming along with them said, "These
men were shot on the train, just before arriving here." After they had
been taken on board, M. said to me, "Do you know they are getting ready
to take in the gang-plank, and are firing up on the _Elm City_?" I went
on board; could not see the captain; the engineer was having the fires
pushed, and said the orders had come from Colonel Ingalls, commander of
the post, to fire up and get away as quickly as possible. All our boats
had received the same. I went out, and with difficulty got the ladies to
go on board. M., who had gone up to head-quarters to see if there was no
mistake, came back with the message, "Drop down below the gunboats, at
once, and look out to keep clear of vessels floating down on fire." We
of course obeyed orders, knowing nothing of the reasons for them, and in
half an hour all our boats were anchored a mile below, with steam up. As
soon as this was accomplished, I took a yawl, and pulled back to the
railroad landing, where I found everything quiet, Ware and H. taking
care of the sick who had been left in the tents. Walking on to the post
head-quarters, I found all the camp-followers, teamsters, sutlers,
railroad and barge men, organizing in companies, and arms and ammunition
serving to them. M., who had volunteered for this duty, had a company. I
found the Provost-Marshal, who told me that the enemy had suddenly
appeared, apparently in considerable force, about three miles from here,
simultaneously on the river and the railroad. A wagon train had been
captured, two or three schooners burned, the telegraph cut. It was
presumed that it was an expedition designed to play havoc with this
post, where there is an immense amount of army supplies of all kinds,
with a force absurdly inadequate to its protection,—in fact, but a weak
regiment of infantry, and a weaker one of horse; but some artillery was
landing, and before daylight they would have two capital batteries of
Napoleons ready, and were gathering supports. I got permission to send
for the _Small_, which is short enough to be quickly handled at the
landing, and to put on her the sickest of the men who had been brought
down during the day to be sent to the post hospital, and who were still
in tents near the landing, as it seemed to me they would suffer less
disturbance afloat than ashore in case the attack was made. It was
daybreak before I got them at anchor below again. At sunrise I was
allowed to bring all the boats up; but as there was a standing order
against the shipment of sick at this time, (in order to reserve the
transports for the wounded,) we kept our patients on the _Small_ for
some days, the post surgeon not being able to receive them. The women
were greatly annoyed and indignant at being sent, with the boats, out of
harm's way.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(N.) We sat on deck ... watching the fleet of transports,
hospital-ships, and supply-boats hurrying after and past us, and the
signaling from gunboat to gunboat, which seemed done by a lantern at the
end of a long pole, dashed up and down through the darkness. It was
midnight when a messenger came in the yawl, with orders to bring the
_Small_ back to the railroad. All the way up we worked, getting ready
for as many sick as could be taken on her. Forty-five beds filled every
corner of the boat, and beef-tea, punch, and gruel were ready by the
time we reached the railroad-bridge. Dr. Ware and H., who had not run
away, had selected the sickest of the men in the tents, and had them all
ready to put on board, and with the help of the _Spaulding's_ nurses,
whom we called for on the way up, we took them on board that night, and
the next day and the next we had them in our little boat,—some of the
sickest men I ever saw,—crazy and noisy, soaked, body and mind, with
swamp-poison, and in a sort of delirious remembrance of the days before
the fever came,—days of mortal chill and hunger,—screaming for food, for
something "hot," for "lucifer matches" even. Two of these men died on
board, not able to give their names.

The fright about the raid having somewhat subsided, we settled down
again, as we supposed, into our daily routine of fitting up transports,
and of receiving and feeding the sick who arrive on the trains. All
sorts of messages and people are constantly coming to our tent;—surgeons
from the front, to have requisitions filled for lemons and onions,[8]
beef-stock, and brandy; orderlies, for officers sick, and just arrived
to take the mail-boat, needing refreshment; and miscellaneous crowds,
who have constantly to be instructed that we are not free sutlers.
Captain —— had kindly provided a wall tent for our use, and Dr. Ware, in
thought for our comfort, has it pitched close by our kitchen, and the
sickest men arriving by train are put into it, and we are able to care
for them without hurrying across the railroad track with our hot gruel.
Here I found myself the other day, spoon-feeding, with a napkin under
his chin, the pleasant chaplain who came down on the _Daniel Webster_ to
join his regiment on the first day we started as a hospital company. His
turn had arrived, poor fellow, and he came back to us with a blister on
each temple, and symptoms of typhoid. We had in the tent at the same
time five or six officers, all sick. Our little comforts, fans,
slippers, mosquito-netting, napkins, cologne, are great comforts to the
sick men, though to be sure one man did say to me to-day, when I put a
few drops from my bottle, "_Gegenüber dem Julichs Platz_," on his
handkerchief, "O my! how bad that smells! I don't mind it much, but
perhaps you have spilt some of that medicine you have in your bottle!"
My cologne of cologne!

Footnote 8:

  As scorbutic symptoms had been reported in certain regiments, the
  Commission was sending small quantities of fruit and vegetables by
  every returning hospital transport. It afterwards sent whole cargoes,
  as will be seen by reference to Appendix D.

                  *       *       *       *       *

The _St. Mark_ arrived about this time, a splendid clipper
East-Indiaman, and, after her, the _Euterpe_, both first-class new
sailing vessels, entirely reconstructed interiorly by the Commission, as
model hospital-ships, and having their own corps of surgeons, dressers,
&c. Drawing too much water to come up the Pamunkey, they anchored at
Yorktown, and the sick were taken down on steamboats to them, and they
made the voyage round to New York in tow of steamers.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(A.) _June 27th, 1862._ I was intending to go down to the _St. Mark_
last night. We had had some rumors the day before that Stonewall Jackson
was making a dash to get in our rear, and take this post. I did not mind
them, but about three o'clock, P. M., yesterday, Captain S., the active
executive here, came to me, and said, privately: "Get away from this as
soon as you can; the enemy is here again; our pickets are driven in, and
I think we shall be obliged, within three hours, to burn everything that
can't be run down the river. Give what help you conveniently can to the
vessels on the river as you go down, but don't stop this side of
Cumberland." I called in our men and women, found that our machinery,
which had been repairing for two days, was in such disorder that it
could only be used at all by the exertions of three men supplying the
place of certain fractured iron, with their arms; and then but very
slowly, and with great care, of course. We were in no condition to help
anybody else. I pushed off, however, in quarter of an hour, taking the
_Wissahickon_ and _Elizabeth_ in company. One or two boats started
before us, and several immediately after. As we passed down, we found
the gunboats with their boarding-nettings up, and all ready for action,
and the skirt of wood along the shore of the White House grounds cut
away to allow a sweep to their guns. We left our consorts at Cumberland
to take forage vessels in tow down, and went on slowly to West Point,
where we anchored. Soon after noon to-day the Captain reported his
machinery repaired, and we started to return to White House. The river
was full of vessels coming down. We could learn nothing from them except
that everything had been ordered to "clear out." We got here about
sunset, and found almost everything gone,—a remarkably orderly and
successful removal of a vast amount of stores. Among what remained,
whiskey and hay were distributed, and everything was ready for firing.

Stonewall Jackson had not come down upon us as we had supposed, but our
right wing had been turned, and the enemy was hourly expected to be
pushing into White House. The authorities at "Head-quarters" were by no
means as much surprised as we were at it all. Every preparation had been
quietly making for several days for the arrival of the enemy, and the
evacuation and repossession were effected in as neat and complete a
manner as if the affair had been arranged between the parties by the

The _Knickerbocker_, and other of our boats, just as they were, were
used as retreats for railroad-men and straggling Northerners, exclusive
of sutlers. The government boats, with the _Commodore_, _Daniel
Webster_, &c., were ordered up, and the fifteen hundred sick men from
the shore hospital put on board. The Sisters of Charity, who had been
for a few days occupying the White House, were distributed through the
different government craft, glad now to do what they could; and so, all
in good order, the hospital ships, one after another, departed, the
_Wilson Small_ lingering as long as possible, till the telegraph wires
had been cut, and the enemy announced by mounted messenger to be at
"Tunstall's," worried constantly in his advance by Stoneman with his
cavalry, till all should have got safely off, when he would fall back
towards Williamsburg, and the rebels would walk into our deserted

So we came away,—watching the moving off of the last transports and
barges, and of the _Canonicus_, head-quarters' boat, with Colonel
Ingalls and Captain Sawtelle and General Casey and staff.... But by far
the most interesting incident was the spontaneous movement of the
slaves, who, when it was known that the Yankees were running away, came
flocking from all the country about, bringing their little movables,
frying-pans and old hats and bundles, to the river-side. There was no
more appearance of anxiety or excitement among them than among the
soldiers themselves. Fortunately there was plenty of deck-room for them
on the forage boats, one of which, as we passed it, seemed filled with
women only, in their gayest dresses and brightest turbans, like a whole
load of tulips for a horticultural show. The black smoke began to rise
from the burning stores left on shore, and now and then the roar of the
battle came to us, but they were quietly nursing their children and
singing hymns. The day of their deliverance had come, and they accepted
this most wonderful change in absolute placidity.

                  *       *       *       *       *

All night we sat on the deck of the _Small_, slowly moving away,
watching the constantly increasing cloud, and the fire-flashes over the
trees toward White House; watching the fading out of what had been to
us, through these strange weeks, a sort of home where we had all worked
together and been happy,—a place which is sacred to some of us now, from
its intense, living remembrances, and for the hallowing of them all by
the memory of one who through months of death and darkness lived and
worked in self-abnegation,—lived in, and for, the sufferings of others,
and finally gave himself a sacrifice for them.


                              APPENDIX A.

                              See page 23.

"_The Commission is at this time actually distributing daily, of
hospital supplies, much more than the government._"

This refers to a temporary emergency alone, for, notwithstanding the
recognized necessity for volunteer aid, it is believed that the
aggregate of all hospital supplies voluntarily furnished by the people
through the Sanitary Commission and otherwise, great and unparalleled as
this gratuitous supply is, is but about one tenth as much as is
furnished by government. This fact ought to be kept in mind, as there is
a natural tendency on the part of those who are rendering volunteer aid
to exaggerate the relative magnitude of their own labors, while the
permanent and vastly larger provisions of government are underrated, and
a habit of unjust censure indulged in, in speaking of deficiencies which
have to be supplied. The character of this censure generally indicates
complete ignorance of the failures of other governments when engaged in
war, and a careless estimate of the immense labors involved, and
difficulties which invariably have to be overcome, in providing for the
constant necessities and exigencies of a great army. It is the opinion
of those whose sympathies with the suffering of the soldiers on the one
hand, and whose careful study of facts on the other, ought to give
weight to their judgments, that never before, in the world's history,
was an army so well cared for in all its departments, Quartermaster's,
Commissary, and Medical, and that never before, when deficiencies were
discovered, were they, on an average, as speedily remedied. In every
great trial, by war, of a nation, it has been found necessary to employ
a very large number of men in positions of the gravest responsibility,
for which they were not adapted by nature or by training. This involves,
of course, not only incompetency for duties assumed, but necessarily
opens a door to continued neglect of trusts, frauds, and peculations,
which, under ordinary circumstances, would seem to be of stupendous
magnitude. This is always a part of the cost of war, and, so far from
being the peculiarity of a republican form of government, or of the
present occasion, in no modern war have frauds and inefficiency of
administrative service been anything like as slightly manifested in the
condition and efficiency, under all circumstances, of the troops in the
field; and this, whether we have regard to their food, clothing,
equipments, transportation, or, finally, to the provision which has
existed for the sick and wounded. The sustained average health, vigor,
and good spirits of our several grand armies, in the great variety of
circumstances in which they have been placed, tells of a virtue and a
vital force in our people and in our institutions, which, rightly
understood, should put to shame much customary cavilling of flippant

The writer of this note has recently travelled through a region larger
than the whole of England, which a year before his visit was held by one
hundred and fifty thousand rebels in arms, and with advantages for
defensive warfare such as no country of equal extent in Europe
possesses. In every mile of this road he saw traces of the desperate
fanaticism of personal ambition and pride, reckless of the life and
property of others, with which its defence had been conducted. And
beyond it he found those who were re-establishing the supremacy of
republican law in this land. He spent more than a week with them, and in
that time he heard no complaint so frequent or so bitter as that against
the whimperers and mischief-makers they had left behind. The health and
patience of the men was a matter of profound astonishment to him. That
the officers were many of them exceedingly unfit for their
responsibility cannot be denied. In what army are not many of the
officers found to be so? But even this was chiefly to be attributed to
the very influence which, in its worst form, was made the cloak of the
conspiracy which brought about the rebellion, and was commonly felt and
said to be so. And thus the army, fighting the open, fights also with
the insidious enemies of the country, and when it returns both will have
been conquered. But if incompetency is common among State-appointed
officers, what evidence does the condition of the army give of the
action of great talent, integrity, industry, and patriotic zeal, in the
manner in which it is provided for! Nowhere did the writer fail to find
the men clothed and fed as never were soldiers clothed and fed in the
pettiest frontier war before. He reached a division in the extreme
advance; bivouacked in a swamp, its wounded picket-guardsmen were being
brought in and cared for, methodically, and well; not with the
refinement of a civilized home, but as wounded soldiers seldom have been
in the history of wars, under the most favorable circumstances, before
in the world. There was nothing which, thus situated, the surgeon could
wish to have with him, which he had not. This division, since it came to
the war, had marched over four thousand miles, and fought six great
battles, and now here in the swamp, wading from hammock to hammock, the
enemy in force in the next really dry land, the men looked as well in
health, and as cheerful in spirits, as a company of harvesters at their
nooning. They were carefully examined. Were they in want of clothing?
No. Were they well shod? Yes. Were they well fed? They had full rations,
and could ask for nothing better. What did they want? "To finish up the
business they came here for, and go home." Nothing else. It was actually
so there at the advanced post in the swamp, and it was so—it is so at
this moment—wherever, on sea or ashore, the seven hundred thousand men
now employed by our government are scattered at their work. By what
despotic power was a machine ever made that could have accomplished
this, in two years?

                                                                F. L. O.

                              APPENDIX B.

                              See page 42.

                            REGULATIONS FOR

                       FLOATING HOSPITAL SERVICE

                      OF THE SANITARY COMMISSION,

                     FOR THE CAMPAIGN IN VIRGINIA.

                           TERMS OF SERVICE.

The Sanitary Commission, being itself under military authority, in order
to meet its responsibilities, must require of all persons who engage in
the hospital service of the army under its direction, that they place
themselves, for the time being, entirely at its disposal.

Those who volunteer their services gratuitously being supposed to do so
fully and in good faith, no distinction can be known between them and
those who may be paid for their services, it being understood that these
services, in both cases, once engaged or accepted, are to be claimed
equally of right by the Commission.


An agent of administration for the Commission will be appointed for each
hospital vessel, who will be regarded by those on board as responsible
for her fittings and supplies.


Each vessel will be divided into hospital wards, designed each for the
accommodation of from fifty to one hundred and fifty patients. In case
of convalescents, a larger number will be properly included in a ward.


A surgeon in charge will be appointed to each vessel, who will be
responsible for the reception, classification, and distribution of
patients in the wards. He will sign any necessary official medical
reports of the vessel. Each ward will be placed under the especial
charge of one surgeon, and, if practicable, there will be a surgeon for
each ward.

                        ASSISTANTS TO SURGEONS.

An assistant to the surgeon (with the title of Ward-master) is to be
constantly on duty in each ward. Under instructions from the surgeon of
the ward, he will superintend and be responsible for the entire
treatment of the patients of the ward, during the hours in which he is
appointed to be on duty.


Two or more nurses are to be constantly on duty in each ward. They will
perform any and all duties necessary in the care of the patients, under
instructions from the surgeons received through the ward-masters.


A dispensary will be established on each vessel, and one or more
apothecaries will be placed in charge of it. They will be responsible
for the medical stores, and for their proper compounding and issue upon
requisitions of the surgeons through the ward-masters.


These will be in charge of ladies, who will issue to ward-masters or
nurses, or themselves administer and dispense, under proper control of
the surgeons, special diet and drink, and articles of bed and personal
clothing for the patients.


Ward-masters and nurses, and all who have part in duty of a constant
character, will be divided into two watches, which will be on duty
alternately, as follows:—

               1. From 7 A. M. to 1 P. M. A
               2.  "   1 P. M. to 4 P. M. B (dog watch.)
               3.  "   4 P. M. to 7 P. M. A "    "
               4.  "   7 P. M. to 1 A. M. B
               5.  "   1 A. M. to 7 A. M. A
               6.  "   7 A. M. to 1 P. M. B (second day.)

                             TIME OF MEALS.


            One watch at 6.40  A. M. (being then off duty.)
            The other at 7     A. M.      "          "


            One watch at 12.30 P. M.      "          "
            The other at 1.15  P. M.      "          "


            One watch at 6.40  P. M.      "          "
            The other at 7     P. M.      "          "

                              HOUSE DIET.


                         _To be ready at 7 A. M._

                      Bread (or Toast) with Butter.
                              Coffee or Tea.


                       _To be ready at 1.15 P. M._

                 Beef Soup and Boiled Beef or Beef Stew.
                          Boiled Rice or Hominy.
                            Bread or Crackers.


                         _To be ready at 7 P. M._

                 Bread or Toast or Crackers, with Butter.
                              Coffee or Tea.

When practicable, the house diet will be served at tables to such
patients as are able to come to them. When not practicable to arrange
tables, such patients as may be designated by the surgeons will be
divided into squads of forty, and a squad-master appointed to each, who
will receive and distribute to the rest the prepared diet, as may be
found most convenient. Patients not able to leave their beds will not be
included in these squads, but house diet will be served to them by the
nurses of their wards, if ordered by the surgeon.

                             SPECIAL DIET.

The surgeons will ascertain from the administrative agent, or from the
ladies, what articles of diet are available on the vessel, and in their
morning rounds direct what choice shall be made from these for the diet
of each patient, for whom the house diet would not be suitable, during
the succeeding twenty-four hours. The ward-master on duty at the hour
for surgeons' morning rounds will, in regular order, be on duty at each
meal-time during the following twenty-four hours, and will consequently
be able to direct the entire diet of each patient from verbal
instructions. He should, as soon as possible, notify the proper person
(no rule in this respect being practicable for all vessels) of the
quantity of each article of special diet which will be required at each
meal in his ward, and at the proper time should (if necessary) send the
nurses for it, and see it properly distributed.

                           SURGEONS' ROUNDS.

Surgeons' rounds should commence at 9 A. M., and at 6 P. M. The
ward-master on duty will closely attend the surgeon, and receive his
instructions as he passes through his ward. The ward-master off duty may
also attend the surgeon at this time, for the benefit of receiving
instructions directly. The surgeon may make this a duty, otherwise it
will be optional.

                               ALL HANDS.

In receiving and discharging patients, or in any emergency which makes
it necessary, ward-masters and nurses may be required to do duty in
their watches off. In cleaning, fitting, or repairing the vessel for
hospital purposes, they will act under orders of the administrative


Before patients are taken on board, the vessel should be properly moored
or placed, gangways or other means of entrance arranged, and, if
possible, all duties completed, for the time being, in the performance
of which the crew of the vessel are required. The surgeon, who should
have previously informed himself of the character of the accommodations
for patients in all parts of each ward, should detail a sufficient
number of guides and bearers to convey the patients, and of all
necessary attendants at the gangway, and within the wards. These should
remove their boots, and each squad of bearers should be instructed that
all orders will be given them by their guide alone, and that no one else
is to speak aloud while carrying a patient, or passing through the
wards. All persons not having a specified duty to perform in receiving
patients, should be put where they will not be in the way or disturb the
patients, but where they can be readily called on if the force engaged
is found insufficient.

As each patient is brought on board, he will be examined by the surgeon
in charge, who will direct where he shall be taken; at the same time
notes will be taken, as follows:—

    _Number_, _Name_, _Company_, _Regiment_, _Residence_, _Remarks_.

The administrative agent will, at the same time, cause a corresponding
number to be placed on the effects of the patient, which he will take
care of, to be returned to the patient on his leaving the vessel. If
practicable, the patients may, before being taken to their berths or
cots, be washed and supplied with clean clothing.

It will not usually be in the power of the surgeon in charge to select
patients for his vessel. It may, however, be proper for him to protest
against taking patients whose illness is not of a sufficiently serious
character to warrant their withdrawal from the seat of war, or those for
whose cases there is less suitable provision on the vessel than in the
hospitals they are leaving, or those already in a dying condition, whose
end will have been accelerated or whose suffering aggravated by their
removal; also, when going to sea, against taking cases of compound
fracture of the lower extremities.

                                       FRED. LAW OLMSTED, _Gen'l Sec'y_.

 White House, Virginia, May 20, 1862.

                          SANITARY COMMISSION.

                 _Atlantic Hospital Transport Service._


The simplest possible arrangements should be made for the diet of
patients which will be consistent with their proper treatment.

At the outset, the cook may be ordered to prepare daily for breakfast,
to be ready at 7 A. M., ten gallons of tea and fifteen loaves of bread
in slices, with butter, for every hundred patients on board; for dinner,
ten gallons of beef-stew made with vegetables, and fifteen loaves of
bread, for every hundred patients on board; for tea, the same as for

Orders for special diet should, as far as possible, be confined to
beef-tea, arrow-root or farina gruel, milk-porridge, and milk-punch.

Quantities of each of these articles, except the punch, may be prepared
by the cook once a day, and delivered to the matron, under whose care
they should be warmed in portions over spirit-lamps, as required at any
time during the day or night.

As a general rule, for each hundred patients on board, there should be
prepared, for twenty-four hours,—

                      2½ gallons of beef-tea,
                      4  gallons of gruel,
                       ½ gallon of milk-porridge.

Where the patients are chiefly suffering from illness, especially if
from fevers, the above quantities will be found larger than is
necessary. Where a large proportion of them are severely wounded, they
may need to be slightly increased.

By estimating the quantity of each article which will be required for
the twenty-four hours, as thus instructed, the surgeon in charge will
find it best to give his orders to the cook for everything at once, one
day in advance.

If the quantities ordered prove too small, the deficiency can be made
good by the matron with crackers, tea, canned meats, or meat essence,
&c., in the pantry; it being best, if possible, to avoid any call upon
the cook or the ship's kitchen for this purpose.

If the quantities prove too large for one day, the saving can be used
the next. Whether too large or too small, a proper modification can be
readily made in the order to the cook for the remainder of the trip. The
surgeon in charge will in this way be relieved of the necessity of
giving further consideration to this department of administration,
which, if not thus simplified, will be found to be a source of much
trouble and anxiety, greatly withdrawing his attention from surgical and
medical duties proper. Associated surgeons should be careful to make no
demands for diet, inconsistent with this arrangement.

Milk-punch is best made with cold water in the pantry. This and all
other cold drinks can be made under the superintendence of the matron,
without any call upon the cook. The cook should, however, be required to
keep a supply, as large as convenient, of hot water, constantly ready to
meet any demand from a surgeon or the matron.

                              APPENDIX C.

                              See page 97.

  _Copy of Letter to the Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac._

                                         White House, Va., June 3, 1862.

MY DEAR SIR:—There must be some frightful misunderstanding at the bottom
of what is occurring here, in your department. It is obvious from the
tenor of your telegraphic communications to me, that you are altogether
wrongly informed about it. The Sanitary Commission, let me say at once,
has not only obeyed every order, no matter how irregular or
disrespectful the mode of its transmission, but has in good faith
endeavored to carry out, at every point it could reach, what was judged
to be _your intention_, supplying the absence or neglect of other agents
on whom you appeared to depend, as it best could. Till night before last
it made itself subordinate to the Surgeon-General of Pennsylvania, who
assumed to act as your aid, and, under positive orders given by him in
your name, it refrained from pursuing a plan previously approved by you,
and by following which it is now obvious that a much greater and safer
transport of the wounded would have occurred. From Sunday night to the
present time, the Surgeon-General of Pennsylvania has not been seen
here; a thousand wounded men have, in the mean time, arrived, and, as
far as I am informed, not the slightest provision of any kind has been
made for them under order from you, or by any one whom you have regarded
as under your orders, except the Sanitary Commission. After waiting some
hours yesterday morning for the Surgeon-General of Pennsylvania (who
till then had been in charge of the railroad wharf) to act, finding men
fainting in the sun ashore, I assumed the responsibility of taking
eighty of them upon our little boat, and of having the remainder brought
on the _Daniel Webster_ No. 2. After doing so, I found one Dr. ——, very
hard at work dressing wounded, &c. By advice of Captain Sawtelle and
myself, he took provisional medical charge, and I then telegraphed you,
advising that Dr. —— or Dr. —— should be placed in general charge, with
discretionary powers.

We were doing what we could with men and women who could be spared from
our boats, which were all full of wounded, to provide for those on the
_Webster_ and ashore. Before night, the _Spaulding_ having arrived, I
brought up fourteen fresh men and the ladies, with two physicians, and
they have been steadily at work, and up to this time (noon of Tuesday)
operating, dressing, feeding, and, with the assistance of other
volunteers, bringing the wounded from the cars to the boat.

The _Vanderbilt_ came more than a week ago, empty, and assigned to
hospital service. She came to the wharf that had been built, at my
request, for the use of the Sanitary Commission, refused to leave at my
request, and has occupied it to our exclusion ever since. She has had
surgeons and a large detail of soldiers on board, and I had been
informed that she was reserved for the transportation of wounded, by
your orders. Neither those on board of her nor those at the camp
hospital appeared at the railroad, or lent any assistance, to my
knowledge, to the care of the wounded, until, under advice from Captain
Sawtelle and myself, Dr. ——, who had received your telegram
disacknowledging him as having any official position, requested the
surgeon in charge to bring the _Vanderbilt_ to the railroad wharf.
Having our boats and the removal of the wounded in ambulance trains to
attend to, I did not think it necessary to inquire if she were prepared
for hospital duty, knowing that she had been a week idle, and previously
in hospital service; but late this morning I was informed that she had
not any commissary, or even necessary medical stores on board, and
nothing whatever was being prepared for the sustenance of the patients.

We have provided bread and molasses, for the want of anything else
ready. We have been also called upon for, and are providing, lint and
bandages, &c., &c.

The _Elm City_ and _Knickerbocker_ are both off, the _Spaulding_ is yet
to discharge the commissary stores with which she came loaded, and there
is not a boat here now which can carry wounded, nor is there a tent
pitched for them.

I have no time to be more full and exact. I have called on Colonel
Ingalls to establish a cooking arrangement on shore, and shall try to
get beef for soup.

I hear that more wounded are arriving. God knows what will be done with

As the telegraph refuses to send any messages to you to-day, being fully
occupied with the General's business, I shall, if possible, send this to
you this evening by a special messenger.

                       I am very faithfully, &c.

               _Copy of a Letter to the Surgeon-General._

                                        Steamboat _Wilson Small_,
                                    Off White House, Va., June 17, 1862.

(A.) MY DEAR GENERAL:—Your prompt action, of which I am notified by your
telegram of this date, in securing the shipment of large supplies of
anti-scorbutics to the Army of the Potomac, without waiting for the
Medical Director to assume the responsibility of ordering them, leads me
to hope that you may think it right in like manner to interpose for the
protection of the army from other evils, for which the remedies are
equally obvious, and more readily attainable.

I therefore urge that tarpaulings, old sails, felt, or canvas in bolts,
with means of putting it together, be sent here immediately, in
quantities sufficient to form a shelter for ten thousand wounded men.
The materials for extending and supporting it in the form of sheds can
be found in the woods immediately in the rear of the line of operations,
where the shelters should be placed. I should propose that at least one
depot for wounded should in this way be prepared for each army corps.
Water should be secured in its vicinity, and means for providing large
quantities of beef-tea or soup.

I know that such an arrangement would have saved many hundred lives
after the battle of Fair Oaks. Nearly all of those with whom I
conversed, of the first three thousand wounded men who received aid at
this point from the Sanitary Commission, assured me that they had been
without shelter from sun or rain, and without nourishment, from the time
they fell until they came into our hands. This would be a period of from
one to four days. The men seemed sincere, and their appearance was such
as to lead me to the conclusion that, in many cases, at least, they
asserted no more than the truth.

If, without waiting for a demand from the Medical Director, or the
convenience of the Quartermaster's staff of this army, it would be in
your power to order it, it seems to me that a provision of the kind I
have indicated should be made within a single week. Everything necessary
should be sent here; canvas, nails, tools, laborers, kettles, beef,
pans, spoons, cooks. The smallest service for hospital purposes cannot
be procured here now by the most energetic and persistent surgeons in
less than a fortnight from the time they undertake to secure it. I have
called three times a day, for ten days, for a detail of ten men to
police the landing-place of the hospital boats; and though constantly
promised me, and though the need for the work is acknowledged to be very
great, I do not yet succeed in getting them.

         _Memorandum of Arrangements proposed by the Secretary
      of the Commission, to prevent a recurrence of the confusion
           in the Transport Service which occurred after the
                         Battle of Fair Oaks._

The following is a list of Transports understood to be at present
available for hospital service for the Army of the Potomac:—

           _Sea Steamers, fitted for long passages outside._

                         S. R. Spaulding,
                         Daniel Webster No. 1.

       _Coast-Steamers, which must make a harbor on the approach
          of bad weather, and which should not be sent beyond
             Philadelphia, unless the necessity is urgent._

                         Elm City,
                         State of Maine,
                         John Brooks,
                         Daniel Webster No. 2.

           _Coast-Steamers which should not be run outside._


      _Sailing vessels adapted to be used as Stationary Hospitals,
                        or to be towed outside._

                               St. Mark,

The aggregate capacity of these vessels is equal to the accommodation of
four thousand (4,000) patients, and may be increased to five thousand
(5,000) if the necessity is urgent.

From the time a boat leaves, until she can be prepared to leave again,—

             will be, if she runs to New York,     7 days,
               "       "     "    to Philadelphia, 6 days,
               "       "     "    to Washington,   4 days,
               "       "     "    to Annapolis,    4 days,
               "       "     "    to Baltimore,    4 days,
               "       "     "    to Old Point,    2 days.

If, in the event of a general engagement, all the wounded sent from
White House are taken to the nearest hospitals, until these are full,
there will be occupation for but few of the boats; four of them, for
instance, would take seven hundred (700) a day to Fortress Monroe
continuously. Having filled the nearer hospitals, however, all the
vessels would be insufficient to sustain a continuous movement to those
more distant. Moreover, most of the transports are unfit to convey
patients to the most distant hospitals. It is, therefore, necessary that
the business should be so arranged that transports may, from the
beginning, run both to the nearer and the more distant hospitals, and
that the limited number of sea-going vessels should be run only to the
distant seaports.

To accomplish this, I suggest that the different transports be formed
into _lines_, as follows:—

1. For _Virginia_ hospitals.

(Fortress Monroe, Newport's News, Portsmouth, and Point Lookout.)

2. For _Maryland_ hospitals.

(Washington, Alexandria, Annapolis, and Baltimore.)

3. For _Pennsylvania_ hospitals.

4. For _New York_ hospitals.

As two of the sea-going vessels cannot come up to White House, and
these, to be used effectively, must be towed by the other two, the New
York line would be best employed in preventing too great an accumulation
at Fortress Monroe,—running only from Fortress Monroe to New York.

If it be assumed that seven hundred (700) will arrive daily at White
House, they may be disposed of according to the accompanying schedule
with regularity, and with no necessity for crowding.

      _Plan for the Disposition of Patients to be sent in Hospital
                     Transports from White House._

 │_Days._│_Hospital_│_Men._│_Md._│_Va._│_Penn._│_N. Y._│               │
 │1st day│Va.       │   300│     │  300│       │       │               │
 │ "   " │Md.       │   400│  400│     │       │       │1st day,    700│
 │2d   " │Penn.     │   400│     │     │       │       │               │
 │ "   " │Va.       │   300│     │  600│       │    600│ 2d   "   1,400│
 │3d   " │Md.       │   400│  800│     │       │       │               │
 │ "   " │Va.       │   300│     │  300│       │       │ 3d   "   2,100│
 │4th  " │Md.       │   400│1,200│     │       │       │               │
 │ "   " │Va.       │   300│     │  135│       │       │ 4th  "   2,800│
 │5th  " │Md.       │   400│1,600│     │       │       │               │
 │ "   " │Va.       │   300│     │  435│       │       │ 5th  "   3,500│
 │6th  " │Md.       │   400│2,000│     │       │       │               │
 │ "   " │Va.       │   300│     │  735│       │  1,665│ 6th  "   4,200│
 │7th  " │Va.       │   300│     │1,035│       │       │               │
 │ "   " │Penn.     │   400│     │     │       │       │ 7th  "   4,900│
 │8th  " │Va.       │   300│     │  735│       │       │               │
 │ "   " │Md.       │   400│2,400│     │    800│       │ 8th  "   5,600│
 │9th  " │Va.       │   300│     │1,035│       │       │               │
 │ "   " │Md.       │   400│2,800│     │       │       │ 9th  "   6,300│
 │10th " │Va.       │   300│     │1,335│       │       │               │
 │ "   " │Md.       │   400│3,200│     │       │       │ 10th "   7,000│
 │11th " │Va.       │   300│     │1,170│       │  2,130│               │
 │ "   " │Md.       │   400│3,600│     │       │       │ 11th "   7,700│
 │12th " │Va.       │   300│     │1,470│       │       │               │
 │ "   " │Md.       │   400│4,000│     │       │       │ 12th "   8,400│
 │13th " │Va.       │   300│     │1,770│       │       │               │
 │ "   " │Md.       │   400│4,400│     │       │       │ 13th "   9,100│
 │14th " │Penn.     │   400│     │     │  1,200│       │               │
 │ "   " │Va.       │   300│     │2,070│       │       │ 14th "   9,800│
 │15th " │Md.       │   400│4,800│     │       │       │               │
 │ "   " │Va.       │   300│     │2,370│       │       │ 15th "  10,500│
 │16th " │Md.       │   400│5,200│     │       │  2,730│               │
 │ "   " │Va.       │   300│     │2,070│       │       │ 16th "  11,200│
 │      Total,      │11,200│5,200│2,070│  1,200│  2,730│         11,200│

To carry out the foregoing plan, the _Kennebec_ and _Daniel Webster_ No.
2 should be run exclusively to the Virginia hospitals,—one daily, each
carrying three hundred (300) patients at a trip.

The _Commodore_, _Vanderbilt_, _State of Maine_, and _Louisiana_ should
be run exclusively to the Maryland hospitals, each carrying four hundred
(400) patients at a trip, one daily, the round trip being four days.

The _Elm City_, being the best of the coast boats for outside work,
would run to the nearest outside post, Philadelphia, once every six
days, conveying four hundred (400) at each trip.

The _John Brooks_, the _Whilldin_, and the _Knickerbocker_ would be
surgical receiving hospitals, or reserve boats, to take the place of any
detained by grounding or other accident.

The vessels of the New York line can be diverted to Philadelphia as
often as it is thought desirable.

After the wounded have ceased coming to White House, the vessels of the
New York line can be run to other more Northern and Eastern ports, until
the nearer hospitals are emptied.

The above presumes that cases of light wounds and of extremely severe
wounds will not be allowed to come to White House at all.

                   (Signed,)              FRED. LAW OLMSTED,
                                                 _Gen'l Sec'y San. Com._

                              APPENDIX D.

                             See page 130.

Shortly after the battle of Fair Oaks, the new and vastly more
provident, liberal, and wisely economical policy introduced into the
medical service, with the appointment of Dr. Hammond as Surgeon-General,
and of the new corps of Medical Inspectors, began to be felt in the army
of the Potomac,—and although many of the agents necessary to the perfect
success of that policy were unable at once to accommodate their habits
to the required change, the Commission, scrupulously adhering to its
purpose to do nothing which the properly responsible officials in any
department evinced any readiness to do without its assistance, had the
satisfaction of seeing the necessity for its special service, in
connection with the hospital transports, grow gradually smaller and
smaller. Under the dry, taciturn, and impenetrable manner, promising
nothing, of the new Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac, who,
just after the battle of the Seven Days, relieved a predecessor of
precisely the opposite qualities, was found to be concealed some
influence by means of which whatever had before been impossible began to
be thought possible, and to be tried for, after a few judicious
dismissals had been made; and, after a few visits of influential friends
to Governors and Senators in behalf of the dismissed had resulted in
nothing but an incomprehensible failure of their purpose, the
Commission's occupation was more than half gone with that army. But
where so many agents are to be depended on, and such sudden new
dispositions and reorganizations must be made, as after those terrible
seven days, it is impossible that any demand of a large army should
always be promptly and fully met. Anxiety for the well, that they might
be saved from disease, soon outweighed anxiety lest the sick should not
be tenderly cared for, and in more than one direction an opportunity was
found to supply temporary deficiencies, which otherwise would have told
severely upon the health of many thousand men. During the month after
the army reached and intrenched itself on the James River, the vessels
managed by the Commission probably did a better service in what they
brought to the army, than in the comfort they secured to the sick who
were sent away upon them. The following extracts will serve to give the
reader a more complete understanding of its ruling spirit and purpose,
and show its continued action to the time of the withdrawal of the army
of the Potomac from the Peninsula.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(A.) _Norfolk, June 30, 1862._—We were driven from White House Friday P.
M.; arrived at Old Point yesterday. Being unable to get coal there, came
here this evening. Shall coal to-night and leave at daybreak for
Harrison's Bar, on James River, where the gunboats are said to be. We
hope to get further up, but are advised by General Dix that we cannot
safely attempt it at present.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(A.) _Off Berkeley, James River, July 1, 1862._—We felt our way up the
river slowly, and with some difficulty, having no pilot, and seeing no
vessel under way after passing out of sight of Newport's News until we
reached this point. Here there was a gunboat and three small
steam-transports, each of which afterwards left, so that for a short
time we were alone. Transports soon began to come up, however, and
to-night there are a dozen or more about us.

We have Colonel ——, Colonel ——, and a few other wounded officers on
board. They were sent to us by General McClellan's own ambulance, half
an hour after we arrived. The General had been here, and left only as we
were coming to the wharf. The officers he saw here converse with us
freely, and we have had officers on board from most of the army corps,
who have also talked, apparently without reserve, with us. Yet reports
and opinions are so contradictory, that we are in singular uncertainty
as to what has happened and as to what we have to expect

The officers and soldiers all show the influence of intense excitement;
they acknowledge the gravest anxiety; they are terribly fatigued, yet
generally seem in good spirits. They speak much of the bravery of the

                  *       *       *       *       *

(A.) _Chesapeake Bay, July 4, 1862._—I left our anchorage off
Head-quarters of the Army of the Potomac, where I wrote you last, about
four o'clock yesterday afternoon, and am running to Washington, by
request of the Medical Director, to advise the Surgeon-General of the
sanitary condition of the army, and to secure the immediate supply, as
far as possible, of its most urgent surgical and medical wants. As the
rebels have put out the lights, and we could get no pilot, we were all
night feeling our way down the river, and shall not be able, with all we
can do, to get to Washington till late to-night. I hope to get what is
most necessary, and leave on our return before night to-morrow. I
telegraphed from Old Point to have everything advanced.

I have seen and conversed freely with many staff officers, and been
among the men, wounded and well—if any can be called well, where all are
feverish with seven days and nights of fatigue and exhaustion and
starvation and excitement. One, a Major-General, said, "I have not been
asleep, nor have I tasted food, in five days. I have only sustained
myself with coffee and cigars." As to the men, the following is a fair
sample of statements commonly made: "My regiment has had, for the last
five days before arriving here, two days' rations; what has been eaten
of this has been uncooked; during that time it has made five hard
marches, and fought five battles; one third of it has fallen in killed
or wounded, and not one man has been shot in the back. One third of what
remains is now on picket duty in the woods, which the enemy is shelling;
the other lies yonder, in the mud, sleeping on its arms." This was
during the rain, which fell in such torrents day before yesterday.
Yesterday the enemy was attacking again, and the whole army in the line
of battle up to the time we left.

The exultant confidence of the army in itself is beyond all verbal
expression. It has grown out of the experience of its ability to resist
and foil and terribly punish desperate assaults made upon it, as is
supposed with forces greatly superior in number. It says, proudly, "All
that men can do, we can do." But there is also the consciousness of a
terrible strain upon its energies, of an unnatural strength, and the
reflection is frequent that there must be a limit to every man's

Rest and recuperation,—how are they to be had? The first only by the
relief of reinforcements; the second only by good diet and favorable
hygienic circumstances. Eastern Virginia is all malarious,—the banks of
James River notoriously so; the army is chiefly upon a moderately
elevated, slightly undulating table-land; the river on the south side;
swampy ground at no great distance on the other sides. It is open, airy,
dry,—a healthful point, upon the whole, as any that could be selected
east of Richmond. But the sun will lie exceedingly fierce upon it, and
it is supposed the army has lost two thirds of its tents. Probably a
majority of the men have lost also their knapsacks and blankets. Many
were without caps or shoes. The area held is small, and will be crowded.
If the enemy is active, as it would appear his policy to be, the
officers will be too much occupied with the immediate military
necessities of the position to give much attention to police duties.
Even if they should be well disposed, the excessively fatigued and
exhausted condition of the men, and the necessity of reserving their
strength from day to day for the struggle with the enemy, will forbid
the constant labor which would be necessary to prevent a terrible
accumulation of nuisances, until at least reinforcements shall arrive so
large that no more than the ordinary quotas will be required for guard
and picket duty. After such tension and trial, a rapid reduction of
force must also occur from sickness, and those not on the sick-list will
suffer from the lassitude of reaction from excitement. Under these
circumstances, all our experience shows that it will be hardly possible
to enforce requirements, the observance of which must be essential to a
healthy camp.

Unless large reinforcements speedily arrive, then, not only must the
army feel that its heroism is unappreciated, and the object for which it
struggled is to be lost by the neglect of others, and thus become
dejected, dispirited, and morally resistless to the dangers of disease;
but it will be physically impossible to establish such guards against
these dangers as are most obviously and directly called for.

There is, in general, a large degree of confidence that, with the aid of
the gunboats, which are throwing shell on the flanks at frequent
intervals, we can hold the position till sufficient reinforcements come
to place it beyond question; but no one speaks with entire confidence,
and the nearer to the head the graver seems the apprehension,—though
with all there is that strange exultation—ready to break out in
laughter, like a crazy man's. There are some few who are utterly
despondent and fault-finding. But there is less of this than ever
before, and fewer stragglers and obvious cowards,—nothing like what was
seen after Pittsburg Landing. Of what we saw after Bull Run there is not
the slightest symptom. In short, we have then a real grand army, tried,
enduring, heroic,—worth all we can give to save it.

                  *       *       *       *       *

(C.) On Saturday we commenced the distribution of the cargo, and it has
been going steadily on since in a very gratifying manner, every one
concerned throwing off his coat, and working with a will, these
intensely hot days,—surgeons, quartermasters, and other officers, always
giving us every possible assistance in their eagerness to get this
agreeable addition to their fare into the camp-kettles as soon as
possible. The salted fish was a grand hit. It seems to have a peculiar
attraction for languid appetites this hot weather. We have met, thus
far, with but one man inclined to throw any obstruction in the way of
the distribution,—a brigade commissary, who seemed to think any unusual
indulgence of a soldier's whims of appetite must be demoralizing. Word
of our intention had gone through the brigade, however, before he
interfered, and the eagerness of the surgeons and of the soldiers took
him very quickly out of the way without any efforts on our part.
Regimental transportation was quickly at the wharf, with the thanks and
compliments of the colonels, and each received its quota.

... The promptness with which the cargo—nearly a thousand barrels—would
have been discharged, will be somewhat affected by the inability of some
of the regiments of Heintzelman's corps to send transportation, on
account of a movement for which they are ordered to stand in readiness
to-day.... The sudden orders given yesterday for the immediate
transportation of several thousand sick, have caused an influx of sick
to the landing, overrunning all that the exertions of the Medical
Director could do to provide for them.... This morning we found five
hundred and sixty convalescents on board the transport _Cahawba_, with,
to use the language of the ——, "not a bit of a thing aboard for 'em to
chaw upon." As the poor fellows, many of them just getting up from
fever, had been, in most cases, finding their way from the camps to the
landing on foot, during the night, their want was urgent. Fortunately,
we had a good supply of the concentrated beef of Martinez's preparation,
and were not long in getting ready an excellent breakfast for them. It
is in just such cases as this, where misery is massed, and where what is
done tells not only for the relief of misery, but for the strength of
the army and the putting down of the rebellion, that we find the
greatest satisfaction in stepping in with the gifts of the people. Many
of these men were in just the condition in which a set-back would be
likely to lead to a relapse and lingering illness, and in which again,
if they were well cared for, they might be built up rapidly, and soon be
sent back to their muskets.

On account of the movements to-day, I shall ride out to the camps this
afternoon, and make some change of arrangements for the further
distribution of the anti-scorbutics. The gunboats were playing very
lively at sunrise, a little way down the river. This is as much as I
should say to-day, but you will hear of something that you hardly expect
by the next mail-boat.


      Cambridge: Stereotyped and Printed by Welch, Bigelow, & Co.

                          TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES

 1. Added Table of Contents.
 2. Silently corrected simple spelling, grammar, and typographical
 3. Retained anachronistic and non-standard spellings as printed.
 4. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.

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