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Part IV

Books and Documents > The Medical Department of the United States Army from 1775 to 1873



On the thirteenth of May, 1846, President Polk issued his proclamation announcing to the people of the United States that Congress had declared that "By the act of the Republic of Mexico, a state of war exists between that government and the United States."

The war was in actual operation on the Rio Grande previous to this proclamation; for the bombardment of Fort Brown took place on the sixth of May, the battle of Palo Alto on the eighth, and that of Resaca de la Palma on the ninth. As these battles were both fought in the afternoon, the wounded were attended to as well as circumstances permitted during the night. As soon as possible after the actions they were sent to Point Isabel, where a general hospital was hastily established with hospital tents, and by clearing out some of the quartermaster's storehouses. Surgeon Robert C. Wood was placed in charge, with Assistant Surgeon J. W. Russell as assistant; but the latter being obliged to leave the country on account of his health, Assistant Surgeon J. B. Wells was assigned to his duties in the general hospital and also relieved Assistant Surgeon Simons as Medical Purveyor, the latter joining the army at Matamoras. One hundred and thirteen wounded were received into this hospital at Point Isabel, and the remainder, numbering forty-eight, were sent to the general hospital at St. Joseph's Island, Corpus Christi Bay, under charge of Surgeon Hawkins.

The following is General Belknap's report of the conduct of the medical officers at these actions:

      June 10, 1846. 


SIR: In reporting the operations of the first brigade on the eighth and ninth of May, Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, a proper reference to the services of the Medical Staff was inadvertently omitted. I beg leave, therefore, to offer this supplementary statement. It is due to Surgeon Wright and Assistant Surgeons Porter, DeLeon and Madison to say that their professional aid was required early in the action of the eighth instant, and that the number of wounded soon called for their unceasing attention. I am happy to bear testimony that the devotion of these officers to the 


wounded under their care, was conspicuous during the day and through the entire night. In the action of the ninth, Doctors Wright and Porter were again present and passed a second sleepless night in the performance of their arduous duties. Their efforts to alleviate pain and suffering were as benevolent as they were untiring; serving with equal kindness and zeal our army and the large number of the enemy's wounded that fell into our hands.

I have the honor to be, etc.,
     Lieutenant Colonel, 
  Commanding First Brigade."

When General Taylor moved his army across the river and occupied Matamoras, a hospital was established at Fort Brown under charge of Assistant Surgeon L. C. McPhail, and on the twenty-fifth of June a general hospital was opened in Matamoras, and placed in charge of Surgeon J. J. B. Wright. Meanwhile, a body of troops occupied Reynosa, Mexico, about a hundred miles up the river, where the hospital was attended by Assistant Surgeon Laub, who on the arrival of the main army at Camargo in August, joined that body, having been relieved by Assistant Surgeon Wotherspoon.

Early in September the purveying depot at Point Isabel was moved to Camargo, which was established by General Taylor as his base of supplies on the march to Monterey. On the departure of the army, Assistant Surgeon Wells in addition to his duty as purveyor, was given the general direction of all the hospitals, regular and volunteer, in and around Camargo. In this portion of his duties he was relieved in November by Surgeon G. F. Turner. The battle of Monterey was fought on the twenty-third of September. Of the conduct of the medical officers in this action, General Taylor thus speaks in his official report: "Surgeon Craig, Medical Director, was actively employed in the important duties of his department, and the Medical Staff generally were unremitting in their attentions to the numerous wounded; their duties with the regular regiments being rendered uncommonly arduous by the small number serving in the field." General Worth, in reporting the operations of his division, says: "In common with the entire division, my particular thanks are due to Assistant Surgeons Porter (senior), Byrne, Conrad, DeLeon and Roberts, Medical Department, who were ever at hand in the close fight, promptly administering to the wounded and suffering soldier."

While these events were transpiring with the main army, a column of troops marched from Leavenworth, Kansas, to Santa F?, to occupy the territory of New Mexico. The medical officers who accompanied this expedition were Surgeon S. G. I. De Camp, Medical Director, Assistant Surgeons J. S. Griffin and R. F. Simpson. In September a body of troops was collected at San Antonio, Texas, under command of General Wool, destined for the invasion of


Chihuahua. Surgeon Lyman Foot was assigned as Medical Director of this army, but was soon after relieved on account of ill health, and Assistant Surgeon C. M. Hitchcock, who was at the time Medical Purveyor at San Antonio, was appointed Medical Director, and Assistant Surgeon John C. Glen, Medical Purveyor. The latter was also placed in charge of the general hospital. This column consisted of portions of the first and second dragoons, fourth artillery and sixth infantry, besides Kentucky and Illinois volunteers. The other regular medical officers were Assistant Surgeon Josiah Simpson, in charge of the sixth infantry and Kentucky volunteers, and Assistant Surgeon W. Levely, in charge of the dragoons and artillery. There were also several volunteer surgeons and citizen physicians. They left San Antonio in the last week in September, and marched to Presidio del Norte.

Surgeon General Lawson in his annual report to the Secretary of War, dated November 9, 1846, thus speaks of the services of the medical officers in the campaign which closed with the capture of Monterey:

"The officers of the Medical Staff serving with the several army corps employed against the enemy have participated largely in the toils, the privations and the dangers of the field, with their associates-in-arms of the line of the army. The services of those, with Medical Director Craig at their head, attached to the Army of Occupation, have been more conspicuously brought to our notice; and it is but justice to say that they have been found present wherever their honor and their duty called them, nobly fulfilling in every particular their obligations to their country.

Those gallant spirits led on by Major General Taylor, always in the presence of the enemy and frequently in conflict with him, have necessarily afforded ample scope for their exercise and judgment in practical surgery; and the ability which the medical officers have displayed, and the unremitting attention they have bestowed on the sick and wounded soldier (the enemy included) have called forth a willing tribute of respect, and the grateful acknowledgments of all who have experienced or witnessed the results of their humane efforts and practical skill."

It will be necessary now to look back a little and ascertain what measures were taken by the government to supply the additional demand for medical officers caused by the great increase of troops at the seat of war. An act of May 13, 1846, called for fifty thousand volunteers, to be apportioned pro rata among the different states; these were supplied with medical officers on the basis of one surgeon and one assistant surgeon to each regiment called into service by the act of June 18th, all such medical officers to be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. No increase was made during this year in the regular Corps, although its necessity was urged by the Surgeon General in several communications to the Secretary of War. The examining board for this year consisted of Surgeons Mower, Steinecke and McDougall, and met in New York city on the first of July. Sixty-three applicants were invited to


present themselves for examination; forty-three of these appeared, of whom three were rejected for physical disqualifications, fifteen retired without examination, and of the remainder eight received a favorable report.

After the battle of Monterey, general hospitals for each of the divisions of the army were established in that city. That at St. Joseph's Island was broken up and Surgeon Hawkins with the remaining sick and wounded removed to Matamoras. On the twenty-fourth of October, Surgeon C. A. Finley arrived at Monterey and by virtue of seniority relieved Surgeon Craig as Medical Director of the army. About the middle of November the column under General Wool which had been destined for Chihuahua, was ordered to join the main army and arriving at the town of Parras was henceforth known as the Second Division of the Army of Invasion. Assistant Surgeon Hitchcock was detached from the division at Agua Nueva and ordered to Saltillo as Purveyor, Assistant Surgeon Josiah Simpson relieving him of his duties as Medical Director. This position the latter soon after relinquished to accompany the sixth infantry on its march to join Worth's division, destined for Vera Cruz, and Doctor Hitchcock once more assumed its duties. About this same time the city of Tampico was captured by the naval forces, and immediately occupied by our troops under command of Colonel Belton. Of this command Assistant Surgeon John M. Cuyler was the chief medical officer.

The end of the year 1846 found the army of General Taylor occupying Saltillo as its advanced station, with one division at Parras and the head-quarters at Monterey. General Scott at this time was at Brazos Santiago organizing the expedition against Vera Cruz by way of Tampico and Lobos Island. For this purpose in January Twiggs' division was detached from General Taylor's army and ordered to Tampico, and Worth with his division to the mouth of the Rio Grande. On the first of February (as near as can now be ascertained) the following was the distribution of the medical officers serving with the army: Surgeon P. H. Craig had again relieved Surgeon Finley as Medical Director of General Taylor's army, the latter having left the country on leave on account of his health. At Monterey the general hospital was in charge of Surgeon N. S. Jarvis, with Assistant Surgeon B. M. Byrne as his assistant. At Camargo, Surgeon Turner was in charge of the purveying depot and Assistant Surgeon S. P. Moore of the post hospital. At Matamoras, the general hospital was in charge of Surgeon J. J. B. Wright, who had on duty with him Assistant Surgeons McPhail and Holden, and Assistant Surgeon J. F. Head in charge of the post hospital at Fort Brown. The general hospital at Point Isabel remained in charge of Surgeon R. C. Wood and Assistant Surgeon J. W. Russell. At Saltillo Assistant Surgeon C. M. Hitchcock was on duty as Medical Director of


the Second Division, and Assistant Surgeons Madison, Levely and Prevost were attached to regiments. At Tampico, Surgeon B. F. Harney was Medical Director, Surgeon Satterlee was in charge of the garrison, composed of portions of the second, third and fourth artillery, and Surgeon Tripler was with the second infantry. Assistant Surgeons Cuyler, Mills, Steiner and Newton were also on duty with troops at this place. Surgeon Hawkins and Assistant Surgeons Simons and Edwards were on duty with General Taylor's army at or near Monterey, and the following officers were either en route or under orders to join the forces which were to rendezvous at Lobos Island for the capture of Vera Cruz: Surgeons McLaren and Porter and Assistant Surgeons Suter, Laub, J. Simpson, DeLeon, Barnes, Wotherspoon, Keeney and Roberts. These officers were changed so frequently from one regiment or hospital to another during the rapidly shifting scenes of the war, that it is not possible now to give the exact duty to which each was assigned at any particular time; it is desirable, however, to place on record the names of those officers who took part in this victorious campaign, and hence the foregoing and other lists are given, imperfect as they may be in their details.

In December, 1846, Surgeon General Lawson left Washington for New Orleans on official business. On his arrival in the latter city he was invited by General Scott to accompany him on his projected campaign in Mexico, as chief of his Medical Staff, an invitation which was promptly accepted, and in February, 1847, he departed with him for Lobos Island. During his absence from Washington, Surgeon H. L. Heiskell performed the duties of Surgeon General.

On the eleventh of February, Congress passed an act "To raise for a limited time an additional military force and for other purposes." This act provided for the raising for the war of ten additional regiments (nine of infantry and one of cavalry) to be added to the regular army. Each regiment was to be entitled to one surgeon and two assistant surgeons; to be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate in the same manner as those of the permanent establishment, and to take rank with them as long as they were retained in service. In addition, the increase of the Corps, which the Surgeon General had strongly urged a number of times, was authorized by the eighth section:

"And be it further enacted, That the President of the United States is hereby authorized, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint two additional surgeons, and twelve additional assistant surgeons in the regular army of the United States, subject to the provisions of an act entitled 'An act to increase and regulate the pay of the surgeons and assistant surgeons of the army, approved June 30, 1834;' and that the officers whose appointment is authorized by this section, shall receive the pay and emoluments of officers of the same grades respectively; and that


the rank of officers of the Medical Department of the army shall be arranged on the same basis which at present determines the amount of their pay and emoluments; Provided, That the medical officers shall not in virtue of such rank be entitled to command in the line or other staff departments of the army."

The fifth section of this act provided, "That the said officers, musicians and privates, authorized by this act, shall immediately be discharged from the service of the United States at the close of the war with Mexico." On the conclusion of peace, however, it was found that by the acquisition of California and New Mexico the number of additional posts to be garrisoned was so great, that a proportionately large medical staff was necessary, and on the nineteenth of July, 1848, the following clause was passed in "An act to amend an act entitled, 'an act supplemental to an act entitled, an act providing for the prosecution of the existing war between the United States and the republic of Mexico' and for other purposes," which was as follows:

"And be it further enacted, That so much of said act passed on the eleventh of February, 1847, as requires the discharge at the close of the war with Mexico, of two additional surgeons and twelve additional assistant surgeons, as authorized by the eighth section of the said act, *  *  *  *  be and the same is hereby repealed; Provided, that no vacancy happening under the provisions so repealed shall be filled up, until further authorized by law."

A most important clause in the act of February 11, 1847, was that which gave definite rank to medical officers. The Surgeon General and the officers of the Department had always claimed such rank, by virtue of the laws giving them the pay and emoluments of officers of cavalry of certain grades, but the concession had not been generally made throughout the army, and hence medical officers were often placed in disagreeable positions, such as grew out of controversies similar to the one noted already in reference to their position on boards of survey. The medical officers neither claimed nor desired any right to command outside of their own department; they did demand the right to be supreme within it, and to be recognized as something more than mere civilian employees of the government authorized by courtesy to wear a uniform. The bill only placed them on an equality with the other staff departments of the army, and gave no jurisdiction to medical officers which they did not feel they had a right to exercise.

As soon as possible after the passage of this act, a medical board met in New York city, to examine candidates for appointment. The members were Surgeons Mower, Finley and Steinecke, and Assistant Surgeon Southgate, recorder. One hundred and three persons were invited to present themselves for examination; of these fifty-eight appeared. Five were rejected for defective physical or moral qualifications, eight withdrew without examination, thirty-


four-failed to pass the board, and eleven were found qualified and received a favorable report.

As a general hospital for the sick and wounded arriving in New Orleans from the seat of war was much needed, the barracks and adjoining buildings in the vicinity of that city were fitted up for this purpose and placed in charge of Assistant Surgeon W. J. Sloan and subsequently the hospital and barracks at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, were devoted to the same purpose under direction of Assistant Surgeon A. W. Kennedy.

On the twenty-third of February the battle of Buena Vista, four miles from Saltillo, was fought. The severely wounded were sent to general hospital at Saltillo while trifling injuries were treated in the regimental hospitals. Surgeon Craig, the Medical Director, was not present at this action, having been detailed elsewhere on special duty by General Taylor's orders. He arrived on the field of battle, however, the following morning and rendered efficient service in superintending the removal of the wounded. During the action the direction of the hospital devolved on Assistant Surgeon C. M. Hitchcock, as the next officer in rank. General Taylor in his official report thus speaks of the services of the medical officers:

"The Medical Staff under the able direction of Assistant Surgeon Hitchcock, were assiduous in their attentions to the wounded upon the field and in their careful removal to the rear. Both in these respects and in the subsequent organization and service of the hospitals, the administration of this department was everything that could be wished."

General Wool in the report of the operations of his division, says:

"Surgeons Hitchcock, Levely, Hensly, Price, Roane, Madison, Peyton, Herrick, Roberts and Glen, for their devotion to the wounded of the Mexican Army, as well as those of our own are entitled to my highest praise."

It is gratifying also to be able to record the following opinion of a distinguished officer who was present at the battle, and wrote a history of it. It is taken from Carleton's "History of the battle of Buena Vista:"

"Of the Medical Staff, there were on the field Doctor Hitchcock, Doctor Madison, Doctor Levely and Doctor Prevost. The courageous manner in which these gentlemen passed along the lines and rendered assistance to the wounded, oftentimes at the moment they fell; the positions of imminent peril to which they cheerfully and at all times hurried whenever their professional services were required on the instant; the care with which they had those who were struck borne to the rear, and subsequently carried to Saltillo, and their assiduity in attending on them day and night, gained for them the unqualified praise of the whole army."

Some months after the battle, General Wool paid the following tribute to the services of Assistant Surgeon Grayson M. Prevost, in a special report to the Secretary of War:


   August 9, 1847.


In my report of the battle of Buena Vista, 4th March last, I intended to name all the surgeons and assistant surgeons who were on the field of battle during the two eventful days of the twenty-second and twenty-third of February. It appears that I omitted the name of Assistant Surgeon Prevost. At the time I was not personally acquainted with him, and he was I supposed, in Saltillo, where he had been stationed. From statements recently received, it appears that he was not only on the field attending to the wounded, but that he rendered me important and gallant services during the battle. Seeing me alone (my staff being all absent in endeavoring to rally the flying troops from the field) he came to me, when I made use of him on several occasions to hasten up the troops, in order to attack the heavy column of Mexican lancers and infantry which had succeeded in getting to our left and rear. He also carried my orders to the Mississippi and Third Indiana regiments, to charge the enemy under the most trying circumstances-a tremendous fire from the Mexicans, not only from the lancers and infantry, but from their pieces of artillery, which had been brought to bear on the right flank from the plain in front of our centre.

At this time I supposed he was an officer who had just arrived, and belonged to the staff of General Taylor and called him captain. It is therefore that I would recommend Assistant Surgeon Prevost to the special notice of the Secretary of War, for his daring courage and gallant bearing on the fields of Buena Vista.

I have the honor to be, etc.,

    JOHN E. WOOL, 
       Brigadier General.

  Adjutant General, Washington."

The army under General Scott was assembled at Lobos Island, sixty miles south of Tampico, in the latter part of February, 1847. It was organized as follows: the regular troops (excepting the cavalry) were formed into two brigades under command of Generals Worth and Twiggs, and the volunteers into a division of three brigades, commanded by General Patterson, the brigades being under the command of Generals Pillow, Quitman and Shields, respectively. After the siege of Vera Cruz the regular brigades were formed into divisions of two brigades each.

On the eighth of March the army effected a landing at Sacrificios, near Vera Cruz, and the regular siege operations commenced on the tenth. During the investment the sick and wounded were treated in hospital tents by their regimental medical officers, but on the surrender of the city on the twenty-ninth of March a general hospital was established in a monastery with Surgeon John B. Porter in charge. A purveying depot was also opened under the direction of Assistant Surgeon C. H. Laub.

On the twenty-fifth of March, during the progress of the siege, the second dragoons, under command of Colonel Harney, had a severe skirmish with the enemy at the stone bridge of Medellin, some miles south of Vera Cruz.


Assistant Surgeon J. K. Barnes was at the time the medical officer of the regiment, and Colonel Harney in his report of the affair makes special mention of him for activity and zeal in the performance of his duties.

During the campaign from Vera Cruz to the city of Mexico, Surgeon General Lawson was chief medical officer on the staff of General Scott, acting, however, rather in an advisory than a directing capacity, Surgeon B. F. Harney being the actual Medical Director. Surgeon R. S. Satterlee was senior surgeon to Worth's division of regulars, and Surgeon C. S. Tripler occupied the same position on General Twiggs' staff. Surgeon J. J. B. Wright was Purveyor to the army. The other medical officers were on duty with the various regular regiments.

The army reached Plan del Rio, not far from Cerro Gordo, during the second week in April, and on the eighteenth the battle of Cerro Gordo was fought. In the week previous a temporary general hospital in charge of Surgeon Cuyler was established at the Plan, which was occupied by the sick who were unable to march, and to which the wounded in the battle were sent. The day before the action the General commanding issued the following order:

      Plan del Rio, April 17, 1847.



*   *   *   *   *   *

As soon as it shall be known that the enemy's works have been carried or that the general pursuit has commenced, one wagon for each regiment or battery and one for the cavalry will follow the movement, to receive under the direction of the medical officers the wounded and disabled, who will be brought back to this place for treatment in general hospital. The Surgeon General will organize this important service and designate that hospital as well as the medical officers to be left at it.

*   *   *   *   *   *


   H. L. SCOTT,
     Acting Assistant Adjutant General."

The labors of the medical officers in this engagement were very severe. Cerro Gordo being a high hill, destitute of houses or cultivation, the surgeons were engaged for from twenty-four to thirty-six hours attending to the wounded in the open air, without any shelter. In the various official reports their conduct is uniformly spoken of as deserving of the highest praise. Colonel Childs, of the first artillery, thus commends the services of the medical officer of his regiment: "I beg particularly to notice the untiring attention of Assistant Surgeon Steiner to the wounded of the regiment, and to those of the enemy that fell into our hands. His professional services were in constant requisition 


for more than forty-eight hours." Surgeon Wright and Assistant Surgeon Keeney were also specially mentioned by their respective commanders.

In the progress of the army towards the city of Mexico general hospitals were established at Jalapa, under the charge of Surgeon McLaren, (to which the sick and wounded from Plan del Rio were moved), at the Castle of Perote, also under Doctor McLaren's charge, and at Puebla, of which Surgeon Madison Mills was in charge. For most of these hospitals large monasteries or colleges were used, but at Perote the casemates of the castle were occupied, which were so cold and damp that Surgeon McLaren advised the removal of the patients to Jalapa, at which place the hospital had been abandoned soon after its establishment in consequence of the removal of the United States garrison to Puebla.

The condition of the army during the period from the battle of Cerro Gordo to those of Contreras and Churubusco in August was far from satisfactory. It found in the diseases of the country foes more to be dreaded than the Mexican troops. To such an extent did the command suffer from fevers, dysentery and diarrhoa, and so crowded were the hospitals that the Surgeon General called for special reports from the chief surgeons of divisions on the causes of the sickness and mortality. These reports may appropriately be introduced without abridgment, showing as they do, better than any other description, the obstacles that the medical officers had to encounter from causes beyond their jurisdiction in all their strenuous efforts to increase the efficiency of the army by preserving its health. The following is Surgeon Satterlee's report:

      July 5, 1847.


In obedience to your instructions that I should report for the information of the General-in-Chief the probable causes of the great amount of sickness and mortality prevailing among the troops, I proceed to state that sufficient causes of disease exist, and have existed since and during the siege of Vera Cruz, to account for all the sickness that prevails; and not a few of these causes have been spoken of, both in the reports of the medical officers of the first division and in their conversations and often by them deplored.

To prove the above position, it is only necessary to give a brief history of the operations and changes of the division from the time it left Vera Cruz until the present time.

1.     The division left Vera Cruz with the most limited means of transportation, not being allowed to bring even their tents; in consequence of which they have been obliged to bivouac in all situations from the 'Tierra Caliente' to the cold and elevated positions of Jalapa, Las Vegas and on the march to this place. This would under any circumstances produce diseases of the thoracic and abdominal viscera from the great change of temperature, and when it is recollected that many of the men were without


blankets or great coats, having improvidently thrown them away while exposed to the scorching heat of the sun in the low country, or while hurrying to the support of the advance on the day of Cerro Gordo, I think the position will not be denied.

2.     The almost total change in the character of the rations issued to the troops, while on board the transports and during the siege operations before Vera Cruz. They were almost exclusively confined to salt meat and hard bread, without vegetables so far as I know, except beans and rice, not even the antiscorbutics allowed by regulations except in rare instances. This when the march into the country was commenced, was exchanged for fresh mutton, pork and beef (the latter always of inferior quality), and instead of the hard bread, always considered healthy when good, in several instances flour has been issued, and since our arrival at Puebla, Mexican bread, which experience has taught us is not healthy, at least for us, and the unrestrained indulgence in crude and unripe fruits, and the vile liquors, both distilled and fermented. All this is without doubt a fruitful source of disease.

3.     The quarters that the troops occupy are undoubtedly far from being healthy. Many of the rooms are low and damp, and almost without ventilation, and in many instances surrounded by high walls which exclude in some degree the fresh air; in other cases the men are quartered in long entries, through which there is a rush of cold air, rendered more unhealthy by having passed through damp places. In some instances the men are greatly crowded, nearly three times the number of men allowed by regulations for hot climates living in one room. Almost, if not all the quarters have thick stone walls with floors of the same material, or brick, upon which the men sleep with only a mat under them (and that but recently), and with scant covering. This the men now suffer, and did at Perote, and the first brigade and light troops of the division, while at Tepeahualco had added very bad water from brackish wells. These things, I think cannot be denied to be prolific sources of disease.

4.     The unacclimated state of many of our men and their ignorance of a soldier's life. Nearly if not quite two-thirds of some corps are recruits. In one regiment that has lost fifteen men since our arrival in Puebla, thirteen were recruits, and the character of the recruits that have recently joined is of such a nature that disease and death must be expected among them. Many of them are boys entirely too young to undergo the hardships of a soldier's life, while others are old and worn out men who should never have been enlisted.

5.    The great want of personal cleanliness. Many patients are received into our hospitals who probably have not washed their persons for months, and who for weeks have not changed their underclothes, and who are not only filthy but covered with vermin. This remark does not apply of course, to our old brave and faithful soldiers who are an ornament to any service, but particularly to the recruits, a great part of whom are indolent and of course filthy. Now, it is impossible for men to be healthy under such circumstances.

6.     The rainy season, exposure to the warm sun in the morning and cold damp atmosphere at night, is exceedingly deleterious.

7.     The great elevation of our position. The rarified air permitting no evaporation from the surface, the skin becomes dry and feverish as well as inactive, the natural excretions of the body are of necessity thrown upon the thoracic and abdominal viscera, the large glands from this over exertion and excitement become torpid and refuse to perform their functions, hence the great amount of bilious derangements, etc.

The above statements I have drawn up in obedience to your orders. I consider them to be very plain facts open to the cognizance of the most common observer who


will take the trouble to investigate them. They are the concerted opinions of all the medical officers of the division and have often been the subject of conversation, as well as of official reports. They are submitted with the respectful consideration of

Your most obedient servant,

      Senior Surgeon, 1st Division, U. S. Army."

The report of Surgeon Tripler on the same subject was as follows:

    6th July, 1847.


Agreeably to your instructions of the third instant, I called together yesterday the medical officers of the second division for the purpose of consultation, and the interchange of opinion, upon the causes of the diseases now so extensively prevailing among the troops. I have the honor to submit the result.

We consider the origin of the evil, the inferior physical constitution of so many of the men that are enlisted for the service. In peace, when we have good comfortable quarters, good hospitals, abundance of clothing and bedding, and no exposure for our men, the greatest care and caution are exercised in the inspection of recruits, and it is seldom a man gains admission into the ranks who is not qualified to perform the duties of a soldier. But in war, where a still greater degree of physical vigor in the soldier is required, from the necessary privation and exposure to which he must be subjected, a relaxation in the scrutiny the recruit is submitted to, is winked at and even encouraged, with the effects of giving us armies on paper, filling our hospitals and embarrassing the operations of our Generals in the field. It is undeniable that the recruits the regiments of this division have received within the past year, have been of the most inferior description, and it is among them the greatest proportion of disease has occurred.

Another cause of disease is the necessary and rapid transition of climate. It is believed that few individuals in private life make a rapid transit from one climate to another, without experiencing some disturbance of healthy function. This cause would of course operate to a greater extent among soldiers from the peculiarity of their circumstances, and it is one that cannot be obviated.

Deficiency of clothing is another cause. In many and perhaps most instances, this is the fault of the soldier himself. Men will throw away their clothing on a march to relieve their knapsacks, preferring future pain, disease and death to present fatigue. This evil has prevailed extensively on the march from Vera Cruz to Puebla.

The sudden and violent change of habits the recruit must undergo in becoming a soldier produces an unfavorable influence upon the power of his constitution to resist disease. This cause is also irremediable.

The neglect of personal cleanliness is another cause of disease. It is a fact that numbers of our men, particularly those reporting sick, neglect to a shameful extent such ablutions as are necessary to health.

The quarters occupied by our troops are for the most part open to the weather, those which are within doors are small and ill ventilated apartments, the floors upon which the men sleep are of brick, and at least one-half on the ground floor and necessarily damp. This is a palpable cause of disease. It has been mitigated to some degree by the issue of mats to the men.


The use of fresh provisions extensively no doubt occasions disturbance of the digestive organs and swells the number of our cases of diarrhoa. The imprudent use of the fruits of the climate occasions many cases and is a great impediment in the way of convalescence. It is also thought that a proper attention is not given to the cooking of the rations; that the cooks are frequently careless in the performance of their duties and that bad cooking makes a doubtful diet positively injurious.

But an important reason for the increase in the number of the sick report may be found in the climatic influence. Ordinarily men when relieved of disease rapidly recover strength and flesh, and are able to return to duty. Here this is not the case, convalescence is astonishingly slow, and an improvement scarcely perceptible is made from day to day in men who do not want any further medical treatment. Of this class are most of those now on the surgeon's reports.

  Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

      CHS. S. TRIPLER,
Medical Director, 2nd Division."

The condition of the garrisons left on the coast was equally bad. The vomito broke out at Vera Cruz very soon after the departure of the army, and the permanent garrison and the troops arriving en route to the seat of war had suffered severely. One medical officer, Assistant Surgeon Robert C. Wickham, died on the thirteenth of May, and Surgeon Finley, Medical Director of the Department of Vera Cruz, Assistant Surgeons Laub, John Campbell, J. S. Battee and others had been incapacitated for duty for a large portion of the summer by attacks of yellow fever. Even those who escaped this disease suffered much from the enervating influences of the climate and became a prey to exhausting diarrhoas, which reduced them mentally and physically. The want of medical officers was very great, and the citizen physicians obtainable for the most part adventurers who had come to Vera Cruz to see what they could pick up, and were utterly worthless. Great credit was due under these trying circumstances to the energy and fidelity to duty of Surgeon J. B. Porter, who, though himself broken down by climatic influences, managed the general hospital with great efficiency, and in addition acted as Medical Director for a large portion of the season.

The army advanced from Puebla between the seventh and tenth of August. On the twentieth the battles of Contreras and Churubusco were fought. Immediately previous a general hospital was established at San Augustin. The wounded of Worth's division were, however, at first taken to houses in the immediate vicinity of Churubusco, and afterwards removed to regimental hospitals at Tacubaya. There were also large hospitals established at San Antonio, San Angel and Mixcoac. The former was principally filled with Mexican wounded, who although they had numbers of their own surgeons to attend them showed a decided preference for our officers, and frequently refused to have their wounds


dressed by the former if they saw any prospect of being attended by an American surgeon.

The official reports of these engagements show that the medical officers performed their duty with their accustomed fidelity. General Worth writes from Tacubaya on the twenty-third of August: "The Medical Corps, consisting of Surgeons Satterlee (senior) and Wright; Assistant Surgeons Simpson, DeLeon, Simons, Holden, Roberts and Dyerle, presents claims to especial thanks and admiration-ever among the most fearless and indifferent to hazard during the conflict. It is after the battle, when others seek repose, that they are found skillfully and noiselessly fulfilling the duties of their high vocation in administering comfort to the crushed and sorrowful soldier. *  *  *  * To Surgeon Satterlee, senior surgeon, the highest praise is due."

General Twiggs reported: "The medical officers of the division, always ready to administer to the comfort of the sick and wounded were particularly active on this occasion. With no conveniences for themselves and but little shelter for the wounded, this admirable corps of officers spent the entire night exposed to the pitiless storm in dressing the wounded and alleviating their sufferings. I cannot do less than give their names a place in this report. Surgeons C. S. Tripler, B. Randall and J. M. Cuyler; Assistant Surgeons A. F. Suter, H. H. Steiner, C. C. Keeney and Hammond make up the number." In his report of the volunteer division General Pillow makes special mention of Assistant Surgeon E. Swift, who was serving with the regiment of voltigeurs, "for devoted attention to the wounded."

The reports of subordinate commanders are no less commendatory. Major J. L. Gardner, of the fourth artillery, says: "To Doctor Cuyler, surgeon of the regiment, I offer my thanks for his able services, always marked by his kindness and humanity." Captain T. Morris, commanding the second infantry, speaks of the same officer: "Surgeon Cuyler, though not attached to my regiment, attracted my attention by his energy and perseverance in following the brigade throughout the actions of San Geronino and Contreras, and for his humanity and attention to the wounded of the regiment, receives my warmest thanks. To Surgeon Tripler and Assistant Surgeon Hammond (the latter attached to the second infantry) for their prompt and able attention to the wounded, and also to Surgeon W. J. Berry of the eleventh infantry, who very kindly and seasonably aided in attending to the wounded of the battle of the afternoon, are tendered my warmest thanks."

In the report of Lieutenant Colonel Plympton, seventh infantry, it is remarked: "Particular praise is due to Surgeon B. Randall for his zeal in following the regiment and attending to the wounded and sick."


Captain Alexander, commanding third infantry, says: "In closing my report it gives me great pleasure to add that the wounded received, through our assistant surgeon, Doctor Keeney, every relief which skill and unwearied attention could ensure." Major Lee, of the fourth infantry, reports: "Assistant Surgeon James Simons of the Medical Staff was in attendance with the battalion in the zealous discharge of his duties." Colonel Judson Dimick, of the first artillery, "calls to the notice of the Commanding General the untiring attention of Assistant Surgeon H. H. Steiner to the wounded both of our army and that of the enemy. He deserves the highest reward for his unceasing exertions to alleviate their sufferings." Major Loring, of the mounted rifles, says: "The surgeon of the regiment, Doctor Suter, deserves the highest praise for his untiring exertion in behalf not only of the wounded of his own regiment but of the army at large." Similar praise is accorded to Assistant Surgeon DeLeon by Major Montgomery, of the eighth infantry.

On the sixth of September the Archbishop's palace at. Tacubaya was taken for a general hospital and placed in charge of Assistant Surgeon Josiah Simpson. This was, strictly speaking, a division hospital for the sick and wounded of Worth's command, but during the ensuing engagements wounded from all portions of the army were brought here for treatment; the hospital at Mixcoac accommodating the remainder. Two days after the establishment of this hospital the battle of Molino del Rey took place. The slaughter was unprecedented for the number of men engaged. The wounded were taken to Tacubaya as rapidly as possible on stretchers and in ambulances; but soon it became necessary to load the army wagons with the sufferers, and the jolting in these rough vehicles no doubt contributed greatly to the excessive mortality which ensued. This action possesses an especial but mournful interest to the Medical Staff, from the mortal wound received by one of their number, Assistant Surgeon William Roberts, who had gained during his term of service the esteem of the whole army. The writer is fortunate in being able to present an authentic statement of the circumstance through the kindness of Lieutenant Colonel Lugenbeel, at the time adjutant of the fifth infantry.

"At the battle of Molino del Rey, Doctor Roberts established his attendants in rear of the regiment, in a slight hollow, so as to be protected from the fire of the enemy. When the line was formed and advanced upon the enemy I did not notice the doctor. Very soon afterwards I saw Second Lieutenant C. S. Hamilton, fifth infantry, who commanded company 'I' of that regiment stagger, and fall as if severely wounded. Assistant Surgeon Roberts ran up to him from the rear and after examining his wound said something to him and then started for the line of battle. I called to him to go back, but he pointed to Hamilton's company and ran on. The next I saw of him he was lying down on the field of battle with the wound in his forehead which afterwards caused his death. When I saw Hamilton I asked him about Roberts' singular conduct,


and he told me that Roberts came and examined his wound, and told him to go to the rear where his stewards and attendants were, and that he (Roberts) would run forward and take command of his company as it was without an officer.

On the twentieth of August, at, the battle of Churubusco, Roberts attempted to enter into action with the regiment in the same manner, but I was fortunately near enough to him to capture him and send him to the rear, where Worth's division hospital was temporarily established, telling him that lie was the only doctor we had and that he must not go under musketry fire.

I don't think I ever saw a doctor who enjoyed a fight more than he did, and with all this pluck and go ahead courage, he was as gentle as a woman, an attentive, intelligent physician and a kind hearted, good man."

Doctor Roberts had been two days before detailed for duty at the general hospital at Tacubaya, which was being organized by Assistant Surgeon Simpson, but he preferred duty with his regiment and obtained an order relieving him from hospital duty, and rejoined the fifth infantry but a few hours before the charge on the Molino. After he was wounded he was carried to Tacubaya and attended by Doctor Simpson, whose pen furnishes the following interesting account of his case:

"The action commenced at daybreak, and about eight o'clock in the morning Assistant Surgeon Roberts was brought to my room in the Bishop's palace wounded in the head. He was struck by a musket or escopet ball on the temporal ridge of the frontal bone, about two inches above the left supra-orbital arch, the ball glanced, fractured and carried away a portion of the frontal bone, leaving the brain exposed; abscesses formed in the cavity of the cranium, and he died in convulsions. Assistant Surgeon Roberts received his wound in the assault made by the fifth infantry on the Casa Mata, a stone work on the enemy's right. All the officers of one company having been shot down, he took command and was mortally wounded in the assault. From the Bishop's palace he was moved to Mixcoac, and from there to the house of the Minister of War in the city of Mexico, near the Mineria, where he died October 13, 1847."

Doctor Roberts had attracted special attention during the whole campaign by his skill as a medical officer and his personal bravery. Colonel McIntosh of the fifth infantry, thus mentioned him in his official report of the battle of Churubusco: "His talents and zeal were not alone confined to his profession, but were displayed in a more military capacity in aiding and urging on the men to the contest." Captain Chapman, the senior officer of this regiment after the terrible conflict at Molino, reported: "Assistant Surgeon W. Roberts was again found as at San Antonio in the most exposed position attending to the wounded and encouraging the living to the contest. But he was not permitted to escape unhurt, and was cut down most severely wounded in the midst of his usefulness." In the annual report to the Secretary of War of the condition of the Medical Department during the year 1847 occurs the following mention of this intrepid officer:


"In the many conflicts with the armies of Mexico, which have reflected so much glory upon our arms and imperishable honor upon our troops, it is due to the officers of the Medical Department to say that they have ever maintained their reputation for professional skill and devotion to duty, and have uniformly elicited the unqualified praises of their respective commanders. Among the gallant spirits who have sealed their devotion to duty with their lives, the army has to mourn the loss of Assistant Surgeon William Roberts, who with another officer of the Medical Department, was wounded in the memorable battle of Molino del Rey. Although the career of Doctor Roberts was brief, he had already given evidence of high professional merit united with undaunted courage, and secured for himself the confidence and esteem of his brother officers."

The "other officer" referred to above was Assistant Surgeon James Simons, who was slightly wounded while "zealously and actively engaged in the discharge of his professional duties," attending the fourth infantry during the same action. He had sufficiently recovered to perform his duties during the subsequent engagement at Chapultepec.

Major General Worth, ever ready to acknowledge the faithful service of his medical staff, in his official report of the operations of his division at Molino, says: "It is again my gratifying duty to present to the General-in-Chief those ever faithful and accomplished medical officers-Satterlee, Wright, Simpson, Simons, Dyerle and Roberts; the last mentioned, when the men of his regiment were almost deprived of commanding officers, assumed the duties of his fallen comrades, and was desperately, probably mortally, wounded." The reports from subordinate commanders were, as at Contreras, of similar tenor. Among others the following from Colonel E. V. Sumner, commanding the second dragoons, is given because the cavalry being a separate command the reports of their operations are not found among those forwarded by the division commanders: "I have also to state that Assistant Surgeon Barnes was very assiduous in his duties and took such measures that our wounded men received prompt attention."

It was found very soon after the action at Molino del Rey that the village of Tacubaya was within range of the enemy's guns from the fortress of Chapultepec; consequently, on the thirteenth of September, the wounded in the Archbishop's palace were removed to Mixcoac, whence they were shortly afterwards transferred to hospitals in the city of Mexico.

The final battles at Chapultepec and the gates of the city of Mexico occurred on the thirteenth of September, and the city surrendered on the following day. The following is a complete list of the officers who participated in this triumph, and the duty to which they were assigned: Surgeon General Lawson, with the General-in-Chief; Surgeon B. F. Harney, Medical Director of the army. The latter officer was not actually present at the surrender, having been 


wounded some months before, (June 6th,) while en route from Vera Cruz to the army with a detachment commanded by Colonel McIntosh, fifth infantry. In consequence of disability resulting from his wound and subsequent indisposition he was placed in general charge of all the hospitals at Mixcoac, at which place he remained until the twenty-ninth of September. Surgeons Satterlee and Tripler, as before mentioned, were Surgeons-in-Chief of the two regular divisions, and Surgeon Wright was Medical Purveyor. The following officers were attached to regiments. Surgeons B. Randall, seventh infantry, and J. M. Cuyler, fourth artillery; Assistant Surgeons A. F. Suter, mounted rifles, Josiah Simpson, sixth infantry, D. C. DeLeon, eighth infantry, H. H. Steiner, first artillery, James Simons, fourth infantry, Joseph K. Barnes, cavalry brigade, L. H. Holden, third artillery, C. C. Keeney, third infantry, J. F. Head, Magruder's battery, John F. Hammond, second infantry, J. M. Steiner, first dragoons, E. P. Dyerle, second artillery, and E. Swift, voltigeurs.

Coincident with the surrender of the Mexican forces at the Capital large bodies of guerillas made demonstrations of a hostile character against our garrison left at Puebla. They were subsequently reinforced by Santa Anna with several thousand troops, and the affair soon assumed the importance of a siege. The garrison consisted of only about eight hundred men, under command of Colonel Childs, first artillery, and eighteen hundred sick, wounded and disabled in the general hospital under charge of Surgeon Madison Mills. The siege lasted from the thirteenth of September to the fourteenth of October, taxing severely the energies of both officers and men by continual details day and night. The official report of Colonel Childs renders a deserved tribute to the important assistance obtained from those attached to the hospital:

"To Surgeon Mills, chief of the Medical Department and to his assistants, great praise is due for their unwearied and laborious services. Left with eighteen hundred sick and limited supplies, with but six assistants, their utmost exertions were necessary to administer timely remedies to so many patients. Their attention to the wounded deserves my notice and thanks. These gentlemen were not only occupied in their professional duties, but the want of officers and men compelled me to make large requisitions for the defence of the hospitals on surgeons and invalids, and they were nightly on guard, marshalling their men upon the roofs and other points. To them I am greatly indebted."

As soon as possible after the occupation of the city of Mexico, the sick and wounded were removed from Mixcoac and Tacubaya to buildings within the city, where division hospitals were established, the regimental surgeons attending to their own patients, but under the immediate supervision of the senior surgeons of divisions, who were required to visit the hospitals daily at a stated hour and give as much of their personal attention as possible to the sick and


wounded. These frequent movements, often in springless army wagons, had a most injurious effect on the condition of the wounded, and when added to the cold, damp and ill-ventilated buildings occupied as hospitals, caused a very great mortality among those who had been wounded in the previous battles. On this subject Surgeon Josiah Simpson remarks in a recent communication:

"The buildings used in Mexico for hospitals and barracks were entirely unsuited for either purpose, being constructed around quadrangles, with interior court and corridors, to which the doors and windows opened; built of rubble masonry, with floors mostly of brick or tile; without chimneys; they were deficient in light, ventilation and means of warming; cold, damp, dark and cheerless; a fruitful cause of the low forms of fever and bowel affections so prevalent among our troops."

Soon after the surrender and occupation of the city Colonel Harney was ordered with a force to open communication with Vera Cruz, and in December detachments were sent for various purposes to Toluca, Pachuca and other towns in the interior. These operations necessitated the establishment of a general hospital in the city, the orders for which were issued on the sixteenth of December, to be carried out under the direction of Surgeon Satterlee, who on the twenty-sixth of October had relieved Surgeon Harney as Medical Director, the latter being ordered to the United States.

The duty of organizing and taking charge of the general hospital was assigned to Surgeon Tripler. Assistant Surgeons DeLeon and N. L. Campbell, with several medical officers of the new regiments and of volunteers, were ordered to report for duty to Doctor Tripler, and some weeks later Assistant Surgeons J. Simpson and Cooper received similar orders. The buildings occupied for the purpose were those known as the Bishop's palace, the Governor's palace, the Iturbide palace, the Inquisition, the College of Mines, and the convent of Santa Isabella. Stewards, cooks and nurses were detailed from the various regiments, and all regiments sending sick to hospital were required to deposit a certain portion of their regimental hospital fund to procure for them any needed luxuries. Throughout this period the want of a sufficient number of medical officers was a great obstacle to the efficient management of the department. The number of hospitals required was very large, the extent of country occupied very great, and the officers of the regular corps were taxed to the utmost to perform all the duties required of them, especially as several had been obliged to leave the country on account of ill heath. The volunteer surgeons, with a few honorable exceptions, were inefficient; several of them had absented themselves for a long time without permission, and the distance from the United States prevented the supply of reliable men to fill their places. An army board met in New York city on the twenty-seventh of October, consisting of Surgeons Mower, Steinecke and Assistant Surgeon Southgate, which examined


twenty-two candidates and accepted six. These not proving sufficient for the needs of the army, another convened in the spring of 1848, composed of Surgeons Mower, Porter and Assistant Surgeon Southgate. This board passed four out of twenty-one candidates.

With the close of the year 1847 active operations on the part of the Army of Invasion terminated. The early months of the ensuing year were occupied with the collection of the tax imposed on the Mexican states and the negotiations for peace. Except a few changes in the details of medical officers there was no important alteration in the condition of the Department. Surgeon Craig succeeded to the charge of the hospital at Jalapa, Surgeon Wells relieved Surgeon Wright at Vera Cruz, and Surgeon Cuyler became chief medical officer of the forces at Toluca. This uneventful condition of affairs did not obtain, however, at the West, to which section the attention of the country was now directed. When General Kearney marched from Santa F?, New Mexico, for California, in September, 1846, he left Surgeon De Camp in charge of the general hospital in that city, and took with him Assistant Surgeon John S. Griffin, who was the first medical officer ever stationed on the Pacific coast. Assistant Surgeon Robert Murray arrived there early in 1847, having accompanied Colonel Stevenson's regiment of volunteers from New York city.

After the departure of General Kearney, General Sterling Price commanded in New Mexico, and early in 1848 he conceived the idea of an invasion of Mexico, by way of El Paso del Norte. He accordingly left Santa F? on the eighth of February, with a force of United States dragoons and some Missouri and Santa F? volunteers, and reached the city of Chihuahua early in March. At Santa Cruz, sixty miles from Chihuahua, he had a severe, but victorious engagement with the enemy. The medical officers of the expedition were Assistant Surgeons Richard F. Simpson and H. R. Wirtz, and are thus mentioned by General Price in his official report of the affair: "To the Medical Staff, conducted by Assistant Surgeon R. F. Simpson, I have to express my acknowledgments. The attention and ability displayed by Assistant Surgeon Simpson to our wounded on the field as well as to those of the enemy after the action has won for him admiration and esteem from both armies."

On the fifth of March, 1848, the armistice provided for by the treaty of Guadaloupe Hidalgo went into effect. Subsequent military operations were only against the guerilla bands which infested the routes of communication to the Capital, and immediate steps were taken for the abandonment of the country by the American forces. A board consisting of the ranking medical officers in the city, met to advise a plan for the removal of the troops with the least danger to life in passing through the unhealthy regions bordering


on the coast. Their recommendations were that the troops should be marched towards the coast until the borders of the "Tierra Caliente" were reached, and then halted until it was positively ascertained that transports were in readiness at Vera Cruz to receive them; that these transports should be anchored in stream and allowed no communication with the shore, and that every thing being ready for embarkation, the troops should be rapidly marched through the "Tierra Caliente," and on reaching the city of Vera Cruz should be embarked immediately on tug boats and transported to the vessels in the stream, without a moment's delay in the city. Unfortunately this excellent advice was not followed, and as will be seen hereafter, disastrous results in more than one instance occurred.

On the fifth of April orders were issued providing for the selection of six hundred men from the wounded and chronic cases in the general hospitals in the city of Mexico, and two hundred from that at Puebla, and their removal to Jalapa under charge of Surgeons Craig and Tripler. Assistant Surgeons J. Simpson, N. L. Campbell, Ryer and Wheaton were assigned to duty with this expedition. The general hospital at Vera Cruz was at the same time cleared of patients, and all those not subjects for discharge transferred to New Orleans under charge of Surgeons Wright and Mills. On the twentieth of May the general hospital at Jalapa was abandoned, and the sick sent to New Orleans in Charge of Surgeon Craig and Assistant Surgeon J. Simpson. On the first of June the hospital at Puebla was broken up, the sick being sent to their respective regiments as they passed through that city. Soon after Assistant Surgeon Simons, Medical Purveyor at head-quarters, was ordered to New Orleans with all surplus medical stores, and on the twelfth the transfer of flags took place and the army took up its line of march for the coast. No hospitals were left behind, all the sick being transported with their regiments and attended by the regimental medical officers. On General Taylor's line nearly all the troops had long before been transferred to General Scott's army, those left being encamped at various points along the Rio Grande. These and the purveying depot at Tampico, under charge of Assistant Surgeon Hitchcock, were removed to New Orleans. Here the volunteers of the army were discharged, the regiments for the war mustered out, and the old regular army, with its brake and efficient body of medical officers distributed to various posts throughout the country.

The arrival of large numbers of sick at New Orleans with the returning army rendered necessary the establishment of general hospitals. Accordingly Surgeon R. C. Wood was detailed to make a report on the hospital accommodations at Baton Rouge and New Orleans barracks. It was found that the number of available beds was entirely inadequate to the proper care of the


patients and it was decided to build a new hospital at New Orleans, and pending its construction to establish a general hospital at some other convenient point. Greenwood Island, near East Pascagoula, Mississippi, was finally fixed upon, and the hospital opened on the first of July under the name of Camp Lawson, in honor of the Surgeon General. Surgeon John B. Porter was in charge, with a large number of the returned medical officers as his assistants. In November this hospital was broken up and the patients transferred to the new hospital at New Orleans, Doctor Porter continuing in charge.

The fourth regiment of artillery on arrival at New Orleans was ordered direct to Fortress Monroe, Virginia. On the passage the yellow fever broke out on the transports and before reaching their destination there were eighty-seven cases and thirteen deaths. The medical officers were Surgeon John B. Wells and Assistant Surgeon E. Swift. After their arrival the fever continued to prevail in the regiment, causing thirty-eight deaths in August and September. It did not extend to the other troops composing the garrison of Fortress Monroe.

The latter part of the year 1848 was occupied chiefly in the distribution of the medical officers to the numerous new posts established in the great area of new territory gained by the treaty of Guadaloupe Hidalgo. A number went to the Pacific coast, others to New Mexico and Texas, whence during the next few years many very valuable reports were received on the medical topography, the fauna and flora of those sections, etc., which were afterwards embodied in the second volume of Army Medical Statistics. The large number of new garrisons rendered an increase of the Corps a necessity, and on the urgent representations of the Surgeon General, Congress on the second of March, 1849, passed the following bill:

"Be it enacted, etc., That so much of section third of an act entitled 'An act to amend an act entitled an act supplemental to an act, entitled an act providing for the prosecution of the existing war between the United States and the Republic of Mexico, and for other purposes,' approved July 19, 1848, as prevents the filling of vacancies in the Medical Department of the army until further authorized by law, be, and the same is hereby repealed.

SECTION 2.     And be it further enacted, That the Medical Staff of the army be increased by the addition of ten assistant surgeons, to be appointed as provided by existing laws and the regulations made under them."

A board for the examination of candidates to fill these vacancies met in New York on the first of May. The detail was Surgeons Mower, Wood, Cuyler and Assistant Surgeon Henderson. Seventy-five candidates were invited to appear, of whom fifty-two presented themselves. Eighteen withdrew of their own accord, the invitation of one was cancelled because he was not a citizen of


the United States, seven were found physically disqualified, and nine were accepted. The long experience of Surgeon Mower on these boards had satisfied him that certain requirements in addition to those heretofore exacted would inure to the advantage of the Corps, and the board accordingly addressed a special report on this subject to the Surgeon General, which, as its suggestions were adopted and have since been recognized in all examinations for admission, becomes an important item of the history of the Department. The following are extracts:

"The Board have given to the examination of candidates ample time, calm reflection, unbiassed judgment, disinterested decision. The session just closed adds to the uniform experience of medical boards, that but a single object has been kept in view, viz: the good of the service; in attaining which nothing has been lost sight of that could impress on the minds of successful and unsuccessful applicants, that this was the sole purpose of the board.

Accumulated observations on successive boards cannot fail to present from time to time points of novel or increased interest to the Department. Action on these points leads, if to anything, to an improvement or elevation of standard; and the Board have now the duty to ask the attention of the Surgeon General to some highly important particulars. These are a knowledge of Latin; of Physics or Natural Philosophy; of a given amount of Practical Anatomy in the form of dissection, and a certain amount of Clinical Instruction.

1. Latin. To show the importance of a knowledge of this language to the medical student and practitioner, one fact may suffice. In no one instance, within the knowledge of the Board, has a candidate ignorant of Latin ever been approved. Here the Board states in terms not to be misunderstood, that ignorance of Latin was not the direct cause of rejection; but it shows conclusively the connection between liberal preliminary education and the science of medicine generally, and specially too, as the technicalities of medical science are inseparably interwoven with the Latin tongue. Another instance just witnessed illustrates with singular force the importance of this language. A highly intelligent approved candidate in his 'exercise,' wrote in fine Latin a prescription with directions, 'in form for the apothecary;' in two instances candidates who said they had studied Latin, could not understand or translate that prescription. How could such cases maintain the standing of the Medical Department before the highly educated line of the army, or before society at large. However desirable the classics or dead languages may be, on general grounds for candidates, and however true it is that just in proportion as the mind is by preliminary education expanded, so is it prepared for the cultivation of medical knowledge; those are not the points involved in these remarks. The point is the inseparable relation existing between the Latin language and medical education; this relation has been established by the uniform experience of the Board, and by universal professional concurrence. The Board therefore recommend that in the circular forwarded to applicants for invitation they be notified that a knowledge of Latin is requisite.

2. Physics, or Natural Philosophy. The relation that this branch of knowledge bears to medicine gives much but not undue importance to Physics in the estimate of the Board. The object is to have the subject so appreciated, that its bearing on medical pursuits may be rightly understood. It is taught in schools, academies and in colleges for general purposes; it should be studied by the physician for special pro-


fessional purposes. Therefore the Board recommend the introduction of Natural Philosophy as a study preliminary to examination.

3. Practical Anatomy by Dissection. It will be seen that the Board have laid much stress on this branch of medical study. Nor can too much weight be given to it. It is assumed as an axiom that a candidate cannot be qualified for the duties of a medical officer without having done a fair amount of dissection. It would be little short of injustice to the well ordered views of the Surgeon General to suppose a word of argument necessary to enforce a point so self-evident. Yet it is common to have candidates admit that they have dissected a little; and not very uncommon to find that no dissection at all has been done, because forsooth, the cost was a few dollars for subjects, or it may be, that dainty fingers might not be soiled. Be that as it may, while the point is so essential, it is neglected to a lamentable extent; and the only remedy is to render it henceforth obligatory on the Board to adopt the principle, which is unquestionable with every rightly ordered mind, that Anatomy, Physiology, the Principles and Practice of Surgery can neither be appreciated nor comprehended without this fair amount of Practical Anatomy. Divest the army medical officer of this appreciation and of this comprehension and what, the Board ask in the name of the service and of the profession, is left to him? It is not the object of the Board to specify the amount of dissection. It is sufficient to say for all legitimate purposes, that the practical anatomy of the whole body should have been carefully done. 

4. Clinical Instruction. It is gratifying to see that professional sentiment is acquiring rapidly force as to the importance of this department of medical instruction. If at first view it might be supposed that difficulties surround positive arrangements on this point, these vanish when deliberately looked at. A young man graduates reputably at the schools; he comes before the Board and passes the examination. An order awaits him to repair to a post, or to duty where he is without aid. This young man may never have resided in a hospital, nor walked a ward, nor had experience in private practice. Where is he and how is he, in this fearfully responsible position? Where and how are the officers and soldiers and the attach?s of the post with none but this inexperienced man for reliance? Can this be corrected prospectively? It can to a great extent by constituting one of three things the requisite; 1. Residence in a hospital; 2. Clinical attendance on such an institution; or 3. Experience in private practice; satisfactory evidence on this point being given to the Board. It has occurred more than once to this Board, that candidates who have gone through the schools, obtained diplomas and came well recommended, were utterly unable to apply a roller to the leg, and were equally uninstructed or inexperienced in minor surgery. It is at the bedside only that these, and more important matters can be learned; and hence to this subject the attention of the Surgeon General is earnestly invited. * *

Much as may have been done heretofore in order to elevate the standard of qualification for the candidates, it cannot be imagined that in a department comparatively so recently organized as that to which the Board belongs, and in a science so broad in its bearings and so important in its interest on the health, life and happiness of the officer and soldier-it cannot be supposed, that room for improvement is exhausted. Far from it. The standard of medical education in the schools throughout the land is being elevated. The Army and Navy Medical Boards are from their very nature and object, moving in advance of these schools. The influence of these boards if wisely brought to bear, cannot fail to be salutary, not only to the respective arms of the service, but to the profession at large; for it is from these schools and from this profession that candidates emanate. It is therefore especially proper that suggestions duly weighed, should, from time to time, be presented to the Surgeon General.


Nor can it for a moment be supposed that, in selecting the above subjects as worthy of present consideration, any incautious or impolitic movement is suggested in undue advance of a sound public sentiment. They bear on their front an important aspect, and thus they are commended to the consideration of the Surgeon General, with a confident hope of meeting his approval."

The number of candidates passed by this board not being sufficient to meet the requirements of the service, another was ordered to convene on the fifteenth of October in Philadelphia. This was composed of Surgeons Mower and Satterlee and Assistant Surgeon Southgate. It examined twenty-one candidates, of whom seven were approved.

On the fifteenth of September, 1849, Assistant Surgeon Joseph P. Russell, one of the most esteemed officers of the Medical Staff, died at Fort Columbus, New York. His widow and children were left in narrow circumstances by his untimely decease, and so great was the respect in which his memory was held by all, both of the line and the staff, with whom he had served during a period extending over thirty-five years, that it was suggested that no more fitting monument could be erected to him "who never forgot the widow and the fatherless, and who was himself so liberal to others in like circumstances" than a voluntary testimonial on the part of the whole army, in the shape of a subscription for the benefit of those whom he had left behind. Accordingly circulars were sent to all medical officers, inviting them to interest themselves in the project. The result exceeded the most sanguine expectations of the projectors. Every officer in the army gave, and gave liberally, and in June, 1851, when the accounts were closed upwards of four thousand dollars had been collected and judiciously invested for the benefit of the family, a noble monument both to the worth of the lamented Russell, as well of the liberality of the army of which he was so long an ornament.

In 1851 the board consisted of Surgeons Mower and De Camp and Assistant Surgeons Eaton and J. Simpson. It met in New York city on the fifteenth of May, and examined twenty-two candidates, of whom seven were approved.

Allusions have been several times made in the course of these pages to the controversies which had arisen from time to time on the relative rank, positions on army boards, etc., of the officers of the General Staff and of the line. The same vexed questions had repeatedly come up for decision in the various bureaux of the navy. The attention of Congress was at length called to the matter, and that body on the eighteenth of July, 1850, passed a resolution requesting the President of the United States to communicate to the House, his views "of the rules and regulations which should be established by law," upon all the points in controversy. To enable the President to present an 


opinion which should as far as possible reflect the ideas of the officers of the two services, a joint board was ordered to convene in Washington, October 14th, to investigate and report on the whole subject. The detail on the part of the army was:

Major General Winfield Scott.
Brevet Major General Thomas S. Jesup. 
Brevet Major General John E. Wool. 
Colonel J. B. Crane, first artillery.
Brevet Colonel C. A. Waite, eighth infantry. 
Surgeon Thomas G. Mower.
Paymaster David Hunter.
Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Henry L. Scott, Recorder.

The army portion of this board presented a report, with a draft of a bill, which they recommended be passed by Congress. The following sections which refer to the Medical Department, are presented to show the opinions of the leading officers of the army on the status of the officers of the non-military staff:

"SECTION 5.     And be it further enacted, That the rank conferred by section 8 of the act approved February 11, 1847, entitled 'an act to raise for a limited time, an additional military force, and for other purposes,' upon the officers of the Medical Department, *  *  *  * shall entitle the officers holding such rank to choice of quarters and to precedence according to rank on courts, boards and councils, and to the military honors of that rank, and when they chance to be at a post or with a detachment commanded by a junior officer they shall not absent themselves from the post or detachment, without notifying the commanding officer, though of inferior rank, of their intention to do so."

The boards were also directed to report on the comparative rank of officers of the army and navy; but on account of the beat difference of opinion existing between them as to the status of staff officers in the two services, found themselves unable to do so, the officers of the navy board insisting upon a lower relative grade for officers of the Medical and Pay Departments than the army board thought expedient to accede to.

It was not long before the comparative status of the staff and the line was brought up in another shape, by the trials of two officers of the Medical Corps for disobedience of orders and contempt and disrespect, in refusing or neglecting to obey the commands of junior officers commanding the posts where they were stationed. Both were sentenced to be dismissed. The President of the United States, in remitting the sentences, makes the decision that, "whatever doubts may be entertained on the subject in regard to the officers of other staff corps, none can exist in regard to those of the Medical Department. The law


of 1847, expressly excludes them from command. Now the officers of that corps are not a distinct and independent body, but are a part of the army and as they cannot command it follows that when on duty they must be commanded." This was a practical settlement of the whole question and has been the rule of the service ever since, with the exception of certain modifications growing from the establishment of general hospitals during the last war which will be noticed in the proper place.

In 1850 it was considered advisable by the Surgeon General that the Corps should be represented at the annual meeting of the American Medical Association, which was to occur in Cincinnati on the seventh of May. Accordingly, Surgeon C. S. Tripler, who was elected a delegate by the State Medical Society of Michigan, was directed also to appear on behalf of the Medical Department of the army. Doctor Tripler was very cordially received, and in connection with Surgeon Ruschenberger of the navy rendered valuable service in bringing to the notice of the Association the claims of the medical officers of the army and navy, both upon the profession at large and upon the country as represented in Congress.

In 1851 the uniform and dress of the army was again changed, and the one adopted which has been in use during the past twenty years, and which has just been dispensed with. One little item in connection with this change may be thought worthy of record. The board which devised the new uniform gave no sash to the medical officers. To this Surgeon General Lawson objected, and in a letter to the Adjutant General, dated June 12, 1851, insisted upon a green sash for the Medical Corps, because, "to take it from them now, would be making an invidious distinction between them and the other staff officers of the army." The green sash, accordingly, was prescribed to be worn by all medical officers.

The Medical Department was represented this year in the American Medical Association, which met at Charleston, South Carolina, by Surgeon John B. Porter, who like his predecessor Surgeon Tripler was treated with marked cordiality and attention by the assembled delegates. 

The examining board for 1851 met in New York city on the fifteenth of November, and was composed of Surgeons Mower, Steinecke and Cuyler and Assistant Surgeon J. Simpson. Fifty-two candidates were invited to present themselves, of whom twenty-seven appeared and ten were recommended for appointment.

This was the last board dignified by the presence of Surgeon Thomas G. Mower. This distinguished officer died on the seventh of December, 1853. Probably no person, not even the Surgeon General, had been more intimately


associated than he with the rise and development of the Medical Staff; and the officers of the Corps, especially the older ones who knew and loved him in life, will not consider too much space occupied if a few pages are devoted to the record of his life and services and to some of the numerous tributes offered to his memory. The following sketch was written for his family by Surgeon Mower himself a short time before his death:

"Thomas Gardiner Mower was born at Leicester, near Worcester, Massachusetts, February 18, 1790. His father dying when he was seven years old, his early education was directed by an uncle. He graduated at Harvard University in 1810, and studied medicine with Thomas Babbitt, an eminent surgeon of Brookfield, Massachusetts, and formerly a surgeon in the United States navy. Having been examined and licensed to practice medicine, he was appointed surgeon's mate in the 9th regiment, U. S. Infantry, December 2, 1812, and immediately joined his regiment in winter quarters at Burlington, Vermont. In the spring following he accompanied the regiment to Sackett's Harbor and afterwards to Niagara; during this year (1813) he participated in the capture of Fort George, and in the actions of Chrystler's Fields. In the spring of 1814 he accompanied the 9th from its winter quarters at French's Mills to the Niagara frontier. This regiment, forming a part of Scott's brigade, was the first to land on the Canadian shore, under the fire of the enemy, on the third of July, 1814, and the writer was in the leading boat conveying the regimental field and staff, also General Scott and Staff. In this year, June 30, he was promoted to the surgeoncy of his regiment, and continued on the New York frontier till the close of the war, February, 1815. He participated in the active campaign on the Niagara frontier, having been engaged in the battles of Chippewa, Lundy's Lane, and in the assault by the British on Fort Erie. At the close of the war he was one of ten regimental surgeons, out of at least forty, that was selected for the peace establishment. After nine or ten years service on the frontier (the last two on the upper Missouri), he was placed on special duty in the harbor of New York, and charged with various duties pertaining to the station. Here, with occasional absences on duty, he has continued till the present time (1851). In 1833 and 1834 he traveled under orders upwards of 12,000 miles as a member of a medical board of examination and inspection, which visited most of our military posts southwest and northwest of New York. He was a member of every medical board except one, that was convened from the first organization in 1832 to the present time, and with the above exception and one other was the presiding member. To the operation of these boards the present efficiency and high standing of the Medical Staff are mainly attributable. In the year 1818 he received the degree of doctor of medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, and in 1844 he was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, an institution over which Franklin and Jefferson had presided."

It is a statement which will be endorsed by every one who ever appeared before him for examination, that no one had to undergo that ordeal, without pleasant recollections of his dignity and learning, his gentleness and tenderness of character, the personal interest which he felt in every young candidate for the honor of a position in the Corps. The variety of his services was as extensive as the country. There was hardly a project, involving the exercise of more


than usual judgment or foresight that was not referred to him for decision. Indeed, for the last twenty years of his life, so constantly was his advice sought for and listened to with deference, that he possessed an influence coequal with the Surgeon General, an influence which it is hardly necessary to say, was invariably exercised on the side of truth, justice and the advancement of his beloved Corps. Doctor Lovell, who had many traits of character in common with Doctor Mower, thus spoke of him, in a letter written shortly before his death:

"I can confidently affirm, without the fear of contradiction, that there is not in the whole Department a single officer who is better qualified than the present occupant [Doctor Mower] to perform the various duties which devolve upon him, either as the medical officer of the station [New York], as inspector of recruits at the largest rendezvous and depot of the army, as president of the medical board of examination which usually convenes in New York, and which devolves upon him as the senior officer but one in the Department, or as acting apothecary in purchasing and distributing the medical supplies for the various posts. In the latter capacity especially he is invaluable to the Department, and his removal from any cause would be a serious loss both to the Department and to the public service.

Without increase of expense the supplies have been increased in quantity and highly improved in quality, and they are so reported by the several surgeons from year to year, with scarcely an exception, as well as to have been safely and carefully packed, and to have arrived in good order; a result which is entirely due to the diligence, intelligence and fidelity of Surgeon Mower. *  *  *  From personal observations during the war (with Great Britain), both in the field and in the hospitals and from subsequent official relations, I can with confidence add my testimony to those with whom he has served, that he is second to no officer in the Department, either as to the extent or importance of the services which have devolved on him during this period, or in the faithful and intelligent manner in which these services were performed."

Surgeon General Lawson, who was always chary in praise, in his annual report to the Secretary of War, November 8, 1854, remarks:

"Although we have been called upon to mourn the loss, not only of many of our number, but of some of our best and most distinguished officers, it will be doing no injustice to others, whether of the living or of the dead, to render a richly merited tribute of respect to the memory of Surgeon Thomas G. Mower, for many years the senior surgeon of the army, its Chief Medical Purveyor, and the presiding officer of its boards of medical examiners. During a service of forty-one years he had frequently confided to him the highest and most responsible duties, all of which were invariably performed to the satisfaction of the Department. To the judgment and discretion with which he exercised the power delegated to him as president of the army boards of medical examiners, the Medical Staff owes much of its present efficiency and reputation, and it is hoped the influence of his example will not be lost."

The New York Times of January 11, 1854, contains a notice of his life and career, from which the following admirable Summary of his character is taken:


"In all the relations of life he was most exemplary and unexceptional; as a husband, devoted and affectionate; as a parent, kind and indulgent, and most solicitous for the honor and welfare of his children; as a friend, ardent, disinterested and unchangeable; as a man, upright, punctilious, exact in all his dealings, charitable and actively benevolent; as a gentleman, affable, polite, courteous and deferring to his equals, and ever considerate of the feelings and interests of those below him in position; as a soldier, jealous of the honor of his profession, firm, decided and brave, knowing no fear but the fear of a mean action, quick to perceive and prompt to execute; as a physician and surgeon, mature in judgment, sound in theory, skilful in practice, humane, sympathetic and self-sacrificing in his efforts to relieve or alleviate the sufferings of his patients; as a christian, sincere without ostentation, believing in religion as a principle rather to be possessed than spoken of, and practicing rather than professing the Golden Rule. That he has gone to the enjoyment of that reward promised to the just made perfect no one can doubt who knew his manly, generous nature and many virtues."

Surgeon Josiah Simpson, through whose kindness the foregoing extracts have been obtained, adds the following personal description of Surgeon Mower:

"He was of slender figure, exact and martial in carriage, with prominent, bright blue eyes, ruddy complexion, and a pleasing expressive face; of delicate physical organization, in height not over five feet ten inches, in weight probably not more than one hundred and thirty pounds. Scrupulously neat in dress and person, pure and chaste in word and deed, he was a noble type of what an army surgeon should be."

Since the commencement of this decade death had been unusually busy with the officers of the Medical Corps. In addition to the lamented Mower, nine vacancies had occurred by death among its members. Among them were Surgeon William Hammond, who died at Benecia, California, February 13, 1851; Assistant Surgeon Sylvester Day, the oldest officer in the Department, having seen continuous service since 1807, who died at Alleghany Arsenal, Pennsylvania, February 20, 1851; Assistant Surgeons Kennedy, Sprague, Fullwood and Dyerle; and Surgeon John B. Wells, an officer of the highest distinction, who died at Baltimore, Maryland, July 24, 1853.

In addition to these, one young officer of promise, Assistant Surgeon Edward H. Watson, who had but just received his commission, was lost at sea. He sailed from Philadelphia on the schooner "Mechanic" for Indianola, Texas, on the twenty-seventh of August, 1853, but neither the vessel, or any on board were ever heard of afterwards.

An examining board, consisting of Surgeons Finley, Wright and Cuyler and Assistant Surgeon J. Simpson, met in New York on the first of December, 1853. Thirty-four candidates reported for examination, of whom three were found physically disqualified, seven withdrew without examination, and of the remainder fifteen were found qualified for appointment in the Medical Staff. 

There were several points of great importance to the efficiency of the


Medical Department urged by General Lawson in his annual reports to the Secretary of War for 1853-4-5. The first of these related to the necessity for an increase in the number of medical officers. Although the Corps was already very large in comparison with the size of the army, yet the great number of new posts which had been established in the new territories rendered it impossible to supply them all with medical attendance with the number of surgeons at that time allowed by law. Besides garrison duty, medical officers were constantly needed to accompany detachments of troops ordered on Indian expeditions, which made it necessary always to have several surplus officers in every department. On this subject the Surgeon General reports, November 10, 1855:

"The duty again devolves upon me to report that the numerical strength of the Medical Corps of the army is not sufficient to meet the requirements of the service. It may appear at a first glance that ninety-four medical officers should suffice for an army of nineteen regiments and corps of the line, with the necessary officers and men of the staff departments, the whole force numbering 17,861 men; but upon an examination into the matter, it will be found that the Corps with its present number does not and cannot give the necessary medical aid to all the troops dispersed throughout our very widely extended territory.

The number of physicians does not depend upon the numerical force of the army, but upon the manner in which it is employed; that is upon the divisions and subdivisions it has to undergo, and the particular service in which it is engaged. One surgeon and two assistant surgeons will suffice for one regiment or corps of ten companies, or a thousand men; these three officers may also serve that corps divided into three battalions; but they cannot possibly render the necessary medical aid to the ten companies of the corps, each company occupying a separate post, the one twenty miles distant from the other.

Our army is spread all over the country, from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans, occupying eighty-nine military posts and arsenals, each station requiring one physician and some of them two. To supply medical officers to the military posts garrisoned by troops of the line, and furnish the necessary complement of physicians to serve with detachments of men constantly operating in the field, would exhaust the whole number of our regular corps, ninety-four in number, were they all efficient and present for duty; leaving us to supply medical aid to troops passing in transports or by land, from one section of the country to another; to the officers and men stationed in our large cities, on staff and other duties; to the many forts on the Atlantic not garrisoned, but held in charge by a few engineer and ordnance men; and to the various recruiting rendezvous, as best we can, under contract by the month, or by the day and the visit.

Officers of the Medical Department, however get sick as well as other people; they are entitled to occasional relaxation from duty like other officers; and again they have a claim the same as officers of the line and other staff departments of the army, to the indulgence of a leave of absence from duty to visit their families and friends, and attend to important private business.

With the aged and permanently disabled officers and the sick, together with those entitled to leaves of absence, our force of ninety-four surgeons and assistant surgeons


may be considered as reduced on an average, eight or ten per cent., or to eighty-five effective men for duty. At this time, however, there is but one medical officer on leave of absence; and this one has just now returned from a six years tour of service in the Department of the Pacific.

Within the last three years there has been paid out, on account of the employment of private physicians, seventy-two thousand five hundred and twenty dollars, averaging twenty-four thousand one hundred and seventy-three dollars per annum; this last sum being about the amount of the annual pay of twenty-four assistant surgeons of the army. Now as we have to expend annually for extra medical attendance twenty-four thousand dollars and more, or the sum of the pay and emoluments of twenty-four medical officers of the army, the question arises whether we shall pay out the money to private physicians, unknown to us and employed on the spur of the occasion, instead of regularly instructed and disciplined medical officers, who have been examined by competent persons and found qualified morally and physically, as well as professionally for the practice of physic and surgery in the army."

A second matter to which General Lawson invited the attention of Congress was the advisability of the enlistment of a certain number of competent persons to serve especially as hospital stewards. Previous to this time hospital stewards were detailed from time to time from the line of the army, on the recommendation of the post surgeon, and were liable as soon as they were carefully instructed in their duties to be returned to duty with their companies, either by the caprice of commanding officers, or the inevitable movements of troops. To remedy this evil, General Lawson suggested the enlistment or appointment by the Secretary of War, of a certain number of competent persons, to serve as hospital stewards and to belong to the general non-commissioned staff of the army, and to have the rank and pay of first sergeants of infantry.

A third measure was, "the making of some provision by which to requite hospital nurses and attendants, for the laborious and loathsome duties they have to perform, and in consideration of their frequent exposure to contagious diseases." By acts of Congress passed in 1819 and 1854, all soldiers on fatigue duty, and all on "extra or daily duty involving constant labor for a period not less than ten days," were entitled to extra compensation therefor, and for many years cooks and nurses in hospitals had received this extra pay the same as other detailed men. Recently, however, it had been decided by the Treasury Department that soldiers detailed in hospitals did not come within the provisions of these acts, though performing much more constant labor and of a more disagreeable character than any other detailed men. General Lawson therefore asked for the passage of a special act giving them the same extra allowance as others, and characteristically remarks:

"In conclusion, I beg leave to say that the doctrine which seems now-a-days to obtain, viz: that nurses and physicians administering to the body, as well as the high personages of the church who administer to the soul of man, have to look for their


reward in Heaven, for the good deeds done in this world, may be very consolatory, very satisfactory, and even very flattering to some of us of the craft, particularly as it brings us somewhat in juxtaposition with the pure members of the hierarchy. There are other persons, however, and among them soldiers of the army, faithfully laboring by day and by night as nurses in our hospitals, who cannot brook the idea of being placed beyond the pale of rightful consideration accorded to soldiers employed in making a bridge or cutting a road, and who cannot be brought to believe otherwise than that they might as well receive a portion if not their full measure of recompense on earth here below, and take their chance for higher and more permanent reward in another and a better world."

Bills were several times introduced in the years before mentioned to meet these suggestions of the Surgeon General, but it was not until 1856, when the army was increased by the addition of four regiments, that any of them received a favorable consideration. On the sixteenth of August, of that year, Congress passed an act, "For a necessary increase and better organization of the Medical and Hospital Department of the Army," which was as follows:

"Be it enacted, etc., That there be added to the Medical Department of the army, four surgeons and eight assistant surgeons, to be appointed in accordance with existing laws.

SECTION 2.     And be it further enacted, That the Secretary of War be, and he is hereby authorized to appoint from the enlisted men of the army, or to cause to be enlisted, as many competent hospital stewards as the service may require, not to exceed one for each military post. The said hospital stewards to be mustered and paid on hospital muster rolls as non-commissioned staff officers, with the rank, pay and emoluments of a sergeant of ordnance, and to be permanently attached to the medical and hospital department, under such regulations as shall be prescribed by the Secretary of War.

SECTION 3.     And be it further enacted, That soldiers acting as cooks and nurses in hospitals be, and are hereby allowed the extra pay authorized to soldiers on fatigue duty, by 'an act to increase the rank and file of the army,' approved August 4, 1854."

A medical examining board, consisting of Surgeons Finley, Satterlee and Moore, met in New York city, April 1, 1855, for the examination of assistant surgeons for promotion. No candidates for appointment were invited to present themselves, as of the fifteen passed by the board in 1853 seven yet remained uncommissioned. In 1856, when it became certain that the foregoing bill would become law, a board was ordered to convene at Newport Barracks, Kentucky, for the examination of candidates for appointment. The detail was Surgeons C. S. Tripler, N. S. Jarvis and A. N. McLaren, and it met on the first of August. Of thirty-nine candidates, ten were found qualified. This number not being sufficient to fill all the vacancies, another board, consisting of Surgeons Finley, DeCamp, Wright and Abadie, met in St. Louis, Missouri, on the first of November. Eighteen candidates presented themselves, of whom two were passed.


In July, 1856, the second part of the "Medical Statistics, U. S. Army," was issued. This was intended to be a continuation of the volume prepared by Assistant Surgeon Samuel Forry in 1839, and to give topographical and statistical reports of the various posts since that date. In 1852 General Lawson had issued a circular to each officer of the Corps calling for information in regard to the location, topography and prevailing diseases of the various posts, the geology and natural history of the neighboring country, with such observations on climate, manners and customs of the inhabitants, etc., as would subserve the end in view. The compilation of this work was entrusted to Assistant Surgeon Alexander S. Wotherspoon, but on his death in May, 1854, Assistant Surgeon R. H. Coolidge was detailed to complete it. Besides the special reports above referred to, the work contained statistical tables of the sickness and mortality of the army, observations and statistics on the recruiting service, and a valuable series of papers on the administration of quinine in large doses, which was first brought to the notice of the profession through the observations of members of the Staff stationed in the southwest. The work received general commendation from the profession at large, as reflecting great credit not only on the compiler but on every officer who had contributed to its columns.

Equally valuable as a contribution to science, was the "Army Meteorological Register," compiled by Assistant Surgeon Coolidge, under direction of the Surgeon General, and published by order of the Secretary of War in 1855. The meteorological observations of the army had been taken continuously since 1820. "The result of the observations for 1820 and 1821 were published at the end of each year. Those of subsequent observations have been published in a series of Army Meteorological Registers, of which the first volume, embracing the years from 1822 to 1825, inclusive, was issued by Surgeon General Lovell in 1826. The second and third volumes of the series, comprising respectively the years from 1826 to 1830, and from 1831 to 1842, inclusive, were prepared and published, the former in 1840, the latter in 1851, under the direction of the present Surgeon General, Doctor Thomas Lawson."

In 1842 instruments of an improved character were furnished to the different posts, and the army examining board, then in session in Philadelphia, consisting of Surgeons Mower and Steinecke and Assistant Surgeon Cuyler, were instructed to prepare a series of rules for taking meteorological observations. The result of their labors was approved by the Surgeon General, and the volume now printed (embracing the period from 1842 to 1854, inclusive) contained the observations taken in accordance with the directions then drawn up. It contained the result of observations of the thermometer, direction and force of winds, clearness of sky and fall of rain and snow, with a special report


"on the prominent features of general climate in the United States, as exhibited in the distribution of temperature and of rain," and a number of charts of mean distributions of temperature for each season of the year, the whole forma quarto volume of nearly eight hundred pages. The publication of this volume brought forth a communication from Professor Joseph Henry, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to the Surgeon General, in which he accused the Medical Bureau of plagiarism in reference to the construction of the isothermal and rain charts in the work, and asserted besides that these charts were constructed on "unreliable and insufficient data." General Lawson was not the man to tamely submit to such at attack, and an angry controversy ensued, in which much personal feeling was shown on both sides and a great deal of ink expended, with the final result of the whole matter being referred to the Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, who gave the rather non-committal opinion, that the Medical Department had evidently never intended to appropriate anything belonging to the Smithsonian, but that even if it had the charts were of no value to science, so that the Smithsonian had no right to feel aggrieved, a decision which most probably satisfied neither side.

The army board which met in New York city on the first of May, 1857, consisted of Surgeons Finley, Satterlee and McDougall. There were twenty-six candidates for appointment, of whom one was found physically disqualified, eleven withdrew without an examination, ten were rejected and five passed.

In the summer of 1857 troops were concentrated at Fort Leavenworth for the operations against the Mormons, generally known as the Utah Expedition. Surgeon Madison Mills was assigned to duty as Medical Director. The troops originally composing the column were the fifth and tenth regiments of infantry, the second dragoons and a battery of the fourth artillery, to each of which was assigned a medical officer. Subsequently they were reinforced by the seventh infantry and a battery of the third artillery. These forces remained encamped at Camp Floyd and Fort Bridger until just before the outbreak of the Rebellion. In January, 1858, Surgeon J. J. B. Wright was assigned to duty as Medical Director, but after reaching Fort Leavenworth his destination was changed, and Assistant Surgeon Thomas H. Williams in July relieved Surgeon Mills and also assumed the duties of Purveyor to the Utah army. He in turn was relieved by Surgeon J. B. Porter in September, 1859. There was no general hospital established, the sick being treated by their regimental medical officers.

The examining board for 1858 was composed of Surgeons Finley, Satterlee and S. P. Moore and Assistant Surgeon Edwards, and met in Richmond, Virginia, on the first of April. There were forty-four candidates invited to appear for


examination, of whom twenty-seven reported in person. Four withdrew without examination, seven after failure on a partial examination, six were found physically disqualified, and of the remainder, ten were rejected and two found qualified for appointment. The next board met in Philadelphia, April 1, 1859, and was composed of Surgeons Finley, Cuyler and S. P. Moore and Assistant Surgeon C. H. Crane. Twenty-five candidates were invited to appear, only seven of whom were examined. Of these four were rejected and three passed. 

In the following year the board met in New York city on the first of May, the detail being Surgeons Finley, McDougall and Cuyler and Assistant Surgeon J. F. Hammond. It passed four candidates out of a total of twenty-one, three being rejected for physical disability. Just subsequent to its adjournment Congress added an amendment to the Army Appropriation Bill for the year ending June 30, 1860, providing for an addition of four surgeons and four assistant surgeons to the Corps. This necessitated the meeting of another board to fill the vacancies thus created, and accordingly one was called to meet in Baltimore, Maryland, on the twentieth of September. The detail was Surgeons Finley, Satterlee and Tripler and Assistant Surgeon C. H. Smith. Eleven applicants for appointment reported for examination, of whom seven were examined and five passed.

On the first of November, 1859, a board of medical officers, consisting of Surgeons Finley, Satterlee, Tripler and Cuyler, and Assistant Surgeon Coolidge as recorder, met in Washington to examine models for ambulances and to revise the Standard Supply Table. Various models for ambulances were presented before this board, and after mature deliberation it decided to advise that a four wheel ambulance in accordance with a plan proposed by Surgeon Tripler be adopted, and also that two wheel ambulances, on plans suggested by Surgeon Finley and Assistant Surgeon Coolidge, be constructed and sent to various frontier stations for trial in the field. The Standard Supply Table was completely revised so as to include most of the modern improvements in medicines and hospital stores, instruments and dressings. The board also reported a plan for an ambulance system for troops serving in the field.

The services of the medical officers during the ten years previous to the civil war, were characterized by all the hardships of actual war, without any of its compensating opportunities for distinction. The new territory acquired by conquest from and subsequent treaty with Mexico, and by treaty with Great Britain, was filled with tribes of hostile Indians, which resisted every attempt at the settlement of the country. Consequently, our troops, scattered over a great extent of country in Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, California, and Oregon, were continually engaged in hazardous expeditions against the savages, taxing


often to the utmost the resources of the Surgeon General's Bureau to supply medical attendance from the small number of medical officers available. The records of the Surgeon General's Office during this period contain a rich store of reports of these various expeditions, many of them embracing facts of the greatest interest in reference to the topography, diseases, climate, and physical characteristics of the country and its wild inhabitants, all attesting the energy and fidelity with which the officers of the Medical Staff performed their irksome and arduous duties. It is much to be regretted that the limits of this work do not permit a more extended notice of these services and extracts from these reports, but on examination it was found impossible to make a selection and the collection is too extensive to admit of even a reference to them all. The third volume of Army Medical Statistics, compiled like its predecessor under direction of Assistant Surgeon Coolidge, which was issued in 1860 does full justice in its pages to the officers of the Corps, and bears ample testimony to the truth of the above statements.

The Medical Staff during this decade was called upon to mourn the loss of many of its best and most distinguished members. Besides those to whom allusion has been made on a previous page. Assistant Surgeon Thomas Henderson died at Lexington, Virginia, on the eleventh of August, 1854. Doctor Henderson had long been incapacitated for active duty by age and infirmity, but in his prime there was no officer of the Corps more distinguished for professional culture. He was the author of a "Manual for the examination of Recruits," originally published in 1840, which had for many years been the standard authority on the subject. Assistant Surgeon Joel Martin, a veteran officer, died at Norfolk, Virginia, December 10, 1854. Surgeon Henry L. Heiskell, so well known to the whole army as the confidential assistant to the Surgeon General through a long series of years and who was Acting Surgeon General during General Lawson's absence in Mexico, died in Washington on the twelfth of August, 1855; and Surgeon H. A. Steinecke, another old and experienced surgeon, at Baltimore, Maryland, on the twentieth of December the same year. Surgeon B. F. Harney, the senior surgeon in the army, a veteran of the war of 1812, and continuously on duty since that time, died at Baton Rouge, August 29, 1858. Except the Surgeon General, there were now left but two officer's whose service extended back to the last war with England. Surgeon W. V. Wheaton and Assistant Surgeon Joseph Eaton. Neither of them lived to witness the commencement of the Rebellion, the latter dying at Fort Hamilton, New York, March 16, 1860, and the former at Philadelphia, April 23, 1860. The following eulogium on Surgeon Wheaton was addressed by General Lawson to the Secretary of War on receiving news of his death:


"Surgeon Wheaton's military life extended over a period of forty-seven years, and was alike honorable to himself, to the army, and to his country at large. I cannot in justice to my own feelings announce the death of this veteran officer and old companion in arms during the war of 1813, without paying a passing tribute to his gallantry and efficiency as an officer, and to his many excellent qualities as a man."

In addition to those above named, Surgeon Bernard M. Byrne, an officer of twenty-five years service in the Medical Corps, died at Fort Moultrie, Charleston, South Carolina, on the sixth of September, 1860.

With the close of the year 1860, the Medical Department entered upon a new era in its existence. The commencement of the great war swept out of sight in a moment many ideas which had been so long cherished that they had become part of the organic law of the Bureau. Old things passed away not because they were faulty, but because they were adapted to an army of nineteen regiments and not to one of half a million of men. New organizations were forced upon us by the exigencies of the first few months of 1861, new regulations had to be adopted, new and varied services were called for from the officers. Yet the experience gained in the war with Mexico and twelve years of almost incessant expeditions against hostile Indians on the western frontiers was sure to be of value in the conflict in which they were called on to participate, and the prestige gained by the Corps in the past gave favorable augury for success in the future.