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Introductory Note

Contents

Introductory Note

The medical histories of the Civil War and the First World War which were published under the auspices of earlier Surgeons General contain lengthy descriptions of hospitalization and evacuation in rear areas. The present volume therefore continues the Army Medical Service's tradition of presenting a detailed account of these operations during a great war.

The contrasts between World War II and earlier wars in matters of hospitalization and evacuation are of course striking. The Army provided-at a maximum-more than twice as many hospital beds in the United States in World War II as it did in World War I, although curiously enough the number of beds in the zone of interior hospitals of World War I was very little larger than that in the Federal rear-area ("general") hospitals of the Civil War. The process of transporting and regulating the flow of patients to these hospitals in World War II differed in important respects from the methods used earlier. Yet despite these-and many other-changes, real elements of continuity existed. The convalescent hospitals and specialty centers, which became outstanding features of the World War II hospital system, existed on a smaller scale in World War I. The horse-drawn ambulance of the Civil War gave way to the motor ambulance of the two world wars, but hospital trains carried large numbers of patients in 1864 as in 1918 and 1945. Even the use of airplanes for transporting Army patients in the United States, an important factor in evacuation during World War II, had its small beginnings in World War I.

These observations are not meant to imply that the recent changes in hospitalization and evacuation outside the combat areas were less numerous or important than the features which remained essentially the same. They are merely a reminder that the full meaning of this volume can only be grasped if it is read with some knowledge of earlier events. Even without this background, however, readers who now or in the future are engaged in the work of hospitalization and evacuation should find much in the account to help them build on the achievements and avoid the pitfalls of the past. If the book serves that purpose, the work of the author and his assistants will be amply justified, as will the interest of the many officers and civilians who responded so freely when called upon for their personal knowledge of the events described.

The author of Hospitalization and Evacuation, Zone of Interior, Clarence McK. Smith, is a graduate of Newberry College, South Carolina, has an M.A. degree from Harvard, and except for a dissertation, has completed the requirements for a Ph.D. degree at Duke University. He taught history at Newberry College


from 1940 until he entered the Army in World War II. During the war he served as an officer in the Medical Administrative Corps of the Army. From 1946 to 1954, he was a member of the Historical Division of the Office of The Surgeon General.

Washington, D. C.                                                                   GEORGE E. ARMSTRONG
11 January 1955                                                                      Major General, U.S. Army
                                                                                                The Surgeon General

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