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Part III

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



The history of the Medical Corps during the period now to be considered is not an eventful one; yet probably at no time were the duties devolving upon it so arduous and irksome, or performed under such discouraging circumstances. The long series of years in which the government was engaged in the contests with the Seminole and Creek Indians gave constant occupation to many medical officers at unhealthy stations in the cypress swamps and everglades of Florida, but their reports pertain rather to the medical statistics of the army, (which have already been published) than embrace any points of interest in connection with its history. The organization of the Corps being satisfactorily arranged, there was but little legislation in its behalf during the next twenty years. The pages which follow, will consequently be chiefly devoted to a consideration of the congressional legislation for the Department, with such extracts from orders, reports, and returns received and issued during the period, as may seem of historical interest, or be useful for future reference.

The act of Congress for the reduction of the army, was passed on the second of March, 1821. By its provisions "The Military Peace Establishment of the United States," was fixed at four regiments of artillery, seven of infantry, the corps of engineers and of topographical engineers, with such general and staff officers as were necessary. Regimental surgeons and mates were dispensed with, and the offices of the assistant surgeon general, apothecary general, and assistant apothecary abolished. Section x defined the future Medical Staff as follows:

"And be it further enacted, That the medical department shall consist of one surgeon general, eight surgeons with the compensation of regimental surgeons, and forty-five assistant surgeons, with the compensation of post surgeons."

In arranging the medical officers in compliance with the terms of this bill, Assistant Surgeons General Watkins and Bronaugh, Apothecary General Le Barron, and the two assistant apothecaries were discharged. The regimental surgeons were transferred to the General Staff as surgeons, and the post surgeons and regimental surgeon's mates were arranged as assistant surgeons to the


number allowed by law. Four post surgeons, viz: Benjamin Waterhouse, John H. Sackett, William P. Marshall and William Sterne, and two regimental surgeon's mates, viz: Robert McMillan and Henry Stevenson, were discharged; the two latter were, however, subsequently reappointed assistant surgeons.

The following table of estimates for the Medical Department for the year 1822 will show the economy of management which existed at that period:

For Instruments,






Hospital Stores,









Furniture for Dispensaries,






Medical Books,



Vaccine Matter,



Store Rent,



Printing and Ruling Books,



Repairing Instruments,



Boxes, Casks, etc.,



Porters, Cartage, etc.,



Citizen Physicians,



Medicines, etc., supplied by them,



Extra supplies for loss, miscarriage, etc.,



Expense of sick soldiers for lodging, etc.,



Total estimate,



Probable balance after paying all bills of 1821,



Appropriation required for 1822,



To this should be added the following estimate of the expenses of the Surgeon General's Office:

For Clerk hire,



Wood (15 Cords at 6 dollars per cord),






Printing blanks, etc.,









This was an average of about two dollars and fifty cents per man, for each soldier in service, being less than it had ever been since the organization of the army, notwithstanding that the extra expenses of the new establishment were $4,450 per annum. During the next few years the appropriations averaged from twenty-five to thirty thousand dollars, being expended for essentially the same items as are noted in the above table.


At this time the whole country was divided into two military departments; the western, comprising all west of a line drawn from the southernmost point of East Florida to the northwest extremity of Lake Superior, taking in the whole of Tennessee and Kentucky, and the eastern all east of that line. The troops were healthy in the eastern division, except at Forts Severn and Moultrie, but in the western, which embraced the Gulf posts, yellow and malarial fevers, and diarrhoa were very prevalent, so much so in fact as to attract the attention of the General-in-Chief, who on the tenth of May, 1823, issued the following order:

May 10, 1823.

ORDERS, No. 32.

The Major General has also noticed with great solicitude, the number of sick which have been and continue to be reported in some of the regiments.

To preserve the health of the troops is an object of the highest importance, and experience proves that it can only be attained at some of the Southern posts by the greatest care and attention. To ensure it however, more effectually, the commanding officers of Departments are directed, as they may deem expedient, to cause the temporary removal of any of the garrisons and their encampment, during the hot and sickly months, at such positions in the vicinity of their respective posts, as may be less exposed to the prevailing diseases of that season.


The question of the choice of quarters having again been brought to the notice of the Department, General Orders, No. 36, of this same year directed, that "in the selection of quarters, Surgeons shall have choice next after Majors, Assistant Surgeons who have served ten years, with Captains, those who have served five years, with First Lieutenants, and those who have served less than five years, with Second Lieutenants."

In 1825 a new edition of the Medical Regulations was issued. It was, however, essentially the same as that of 1818, the alterations being chiefly in phraseology so as to conform to the new designation of the medical officers. The duties assigned to the Assistant Surgeons General in the regulations of 1818, were given to Medical Directors of Departments, and those of the Apothecary General and his assistants, to the officers who might be detailed in the Purveying Department. The only important addition was a paragraph to the effect that in future no person should receive an appointment as assistant surgeon until after examination by a board of three medical officers, to be detailed by the Surgeon General, but it does not seem that this was put into practical operation until after the issue of General Orders, No. 58, of July 7, 1832, which defined the requisites for appointment; at least there are no records


of the appointment of any boards previous to that time. From the time of the reorganization of the army in 1821, all persons desiring appointment as medical officers made application to the Secretary of War, through the Surgeon General, enclosing certificates of their being licensed to practice by some respectable medical association or college. Where there were a large number of applicants, preference was usually given to those who came from states from which none had been previously chosen. Thus in February, 1826, a certain Doctor Benedict having applied for the position of assistant surgeon was notified that there were upwards of one hundred applications on file, of which one fourth were from New York, and that as the applicant was from that state, there would be no prospect of a favorable consideration of his claim. About the same time a gentleman from Connecticut was informed that as he was the only applicant from that state, his desires would be favorably entertained on the occurrence of a vacancy. The only other important addition to the regulations was a clause that surgeons and assistant surgeons might be appointed Judge Advocates of General Courts-Martial, but were not eligible for detail as members of either general, garrison or regimental courts.

Up to the close of 1825 there had been no definite rule relative to the assignment of medical officers to duty, and as many of the southern and western posts were very undesirable as compared with those at the north, there were continual applications for changes of station which embarrassed the Surgeon General, and rendered some fixed regulation on the subject advisable. There was so much dissatisfaction in the Corps about this matter, that on the fourteenth of November the Surgeon General addressed the following letter to the Secretary of War:

November 14, 1825.


In consequence of the frequent applications from the surgeons for change of station, the difficulty of deciding upon their several cases, and the discontent of many of those whose requests cannot be complied with, or who are removed from their posts, I have to propose that some permanent regulation be established on the subject. The following is believed to be the least objectionable, both in reference to the surgeons and the public service, viz: That the senior surgeons and assistant surgeons shall respectively have choice of stations, on written application through the Surgeon General, specifying the posts preferred; but no surgeon can claim the right of removal from any post or section of country, unless he shall have served there for two successive years, nor any one be liable to removal from his post on such application, unless he shall have been stationed there for the same period.

As several changes will probably take place on the first establishment of this regulation, which the limited number of medical officers may render inconvenient, it is recommended that no case be decided on until six months after its promulgation, in order that. applications may be received from the remote posts.


It should also be understood, that surgeons are to be confined in their selections to such stations or regiments as have been, or may hereafter be designated. These at present are West Point, New York, Fortress Monroe, and the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th regiments of infantry.

This regulation will not of course prevent the officers of the Medical Staff from being ordered to any station where their service may be specially required, the public interest being in all cases paramount to the convenience of individuals.

Respectfully, etc.,

Surgeon General."

In accordance with this suggestion the following order was issued by the War Department:

Washington, December 14, 1825.

ORDERS, No. 84.

I. Senior surgeons and assistant surgeons shall respectively have choice of stations on written application through the Surgeon General, specifying the regiment or post preferred; but no surgeon or assistant can claim the right of removal from any post or station of country, unless he shall have served there for two successive years; nor shall any one be liable to removal from his post on such application, unless he shall have been stationed there for the same period.

II. This regulation shall not be construed as to prevent the competent authority from ordering officers of the Medical Staff to any station where their services may be specially required.


Immediately after the promulgation of this order the Surgeon General issued the following circular to the Medical Staff:

December 16, 1825.


I am directed by the Secretary of War to transmit a copy of the regulation of the 14th inst., and to state that it will not be acted on until six months after promulgation, in order that applications may be received from those stationed at the remote posts.

Each surgeon and assistant surgeon will specify several regiments or posts in the order in which he may prefer them, as the same station may be applied for by more than one. The necessary changes will be made as soon after the expiration of the period above mentioned as the number of the Medical Staff and the exigencies of the service will permit, the senior applicant always having the preference under similar circumstances. I am also directed to state that the surgeons will be confined in their selections to West Point, Fortress Monroe, and the regiments of infantry; but it will of course depend upon the distribution of the troops for the time being, to which regiments they shall be attached, there not being a sufficient number to supply the whole.

The assistant surgeons will be assigned as follows: To Forts Sullivan, Preble, Constitution, Independence, Trumbull, Wolcott, Wood, Columbus, Lafayette, Delaware,


McHenry, Washington, Monroe, Johnson, Moultrie, St. Philip, Armstrong, Crawford, Snelling, Howard and Niagara, the Arsenals at Pittsburgh, Richmond and Augusta, Savannah, St Augustine, New Orleans, Petites Coquilles, Mackinac, Detroit and Sackett's Harbour each one. To Fort Brady, the first and sixth infantry each two; the fourth and seventh infantry each three; subject however to such alterations as may be made necessary by changes in the position of the troops.

The persons newly appointed or promoted will be ordered to the post or station which shall have become vacant, unless it may have been previously applied for, or the public interest renders a different arrangement advisable. And every surgeon and assistant surgeon will be liable at all times to receive orders for any post which he may have designated unless he shall have withdrawn his application.

Respectfully, etc.,

Surgeon General."

Two trials by court-martial which took place about this time excited general interest among the members of the Medical Staff, involving as they did questions of the gravest consequence as to the responsibilities of surgeons in the performance of official duties, and the jurisdiction of courts-martial composed of non-professional individuals over questions purely surgical in their character. The facts of one case were as follows:

On the second of July, 1825, Lieutenant E. B. G----, second infantry, reported himself to Doctor Beaumont, post surgeon at Fort Niagara., with the request that he would examine his arm, as it was so sore he could not wear his uniform coat. He had been bled on the twenty-first of June and returned to duty, but neglecting to perform it complaints were made to the commanding officer, which resulted in his again reporting sick on the date above mentioned. Doctor Beaumont could find nothing the matter with his arm, and told him so, but as he insisted on being taken on sick report, this was done. Nevertheless, two days after he was well enough to go with a large party on an excursion from the post, but on the sixth of July again reported sick. The surgeon, suspecting that he was malingering, gave him a mixture composed of twenty grains of calomel and six of tartar-emetic; but finding him out in a rain storm the same afternoon, struck him from sick report and reported him to the commanding officer. He was then placed in arrest and tried on the charge of malingering and neglect of duty. Doctor Beaumont testified to all the facts as above narrated, as did also others who were cognizant of them, and the court found him guilty and sentenced him to be dismissed the service. The President disapproved the action of the court, and in his review of the proceedings animadverted in very severe terms on the conduct and testimony of Doctor Beaumont. On the eighth of May, 1826, the latter applied for a Court of Inquiry, but this being refused, in the following fall he published a pamphlet to


the army, in which he stated all the circumstances of the case, and vindicated himself from the strictures contained in General Orders, No. 9, February 18, 1826, promulgating the proceedings of the Court-Martial on Lieutenant G---. In this appeal, after detailing the facts of his connection with G---- and recapitulating the evidence given before the court, he thus defends the propriety of his giving the emetico-cathartic, a circumstance which had formed the basis of the President's strictures in his review of the proceedings:

"Resolved never to be made the tacit medium of deception, nor the convenient organ of official falsehood, I determined neither to let the case pass unnoticed, or waive my duty of making a correct report to the commanding officer. Viewing this case as novel and unprecedented, ---- artfully calculated to evade proof, and requiring more than ordinary means and management for detection, I consulted my duty to government and my professional character only and at once resolved upon the course to be pursued, fully aware of the delicacy and difficulties of deciding judiciously upon the first case of feigned sickness in an officer, that had ever occurred within the sphere of my official duty. I assumed the responsibility-considered the case-adopted my plan of treatment, which was to soothe his agitation-threw him off his guard by affecting to believe his declaration; prescribing at the same time an emetico-cathartic of well-known, infallible and decided effects, when taken. The first in two minutes completely removed his agitation, which was the single and only apparent deviation from perfect and tranquil health; the medicine I left with him to take at discretion, should his non-descript sensations continue, which bye the bye, never after happened to be observable, until the time of his trial; the medicine I am confident was not taken, never having been in the least visible upon close observation for two days. * * * * Whether the plan adopted, either in a moral or professional point of view be justifiable or not, I leave for medical men, and candid judges to decide; it was salutary, and had the intended effect of returning Lieut. G to his duty without prejudice to his health or constitution; neither is it of very great moment with me, whether a successful experiment be of less or more than doubtful propriety, that speedily restores a soldier from the sick report to the effective service of the government, be he private, non-com. or commissioned officer; neither do I think it of very great consequence, whether it be done secundem artem, secundem naturam, or terrorem, provided it be well done. It may not be amiss here to remark, that so far from having administered a medicine of violent operation to a man whom I then believed (and have ever since) to be in full health, I neither required Lt. G--- to take, -believed he did take, or had any intention of taking the medicine left with him; but on the contrary believe he studied to deceive by pretending to have taken it, and then representing its effects; it was impossible to prove he did not feel those strange indescribable sensations; but I know he could not disguise the effects of the medicine if taken-with this view I prescribed the calomel and emetic tartar; neither was he receiving my professional advice, inasmuch as I had offered him none, either medical, or political,-therefore it must have been close observation and my Morning Report of the 8th of July, that tested his disposition and the insincerity of his complaints.

And no consideration can ever warp my mind from its fixed principles of acting honestly and independently in the discharge of its relative duties. Should I again, a hundred times be placed in a similar situation, I would do as in this case I have done;


fearless of censure, reproach, or temporary discredit-regarding far more the sanctity of an oath, than either the applause, or disapprobation of the highest earthly tribunal-considering Integrity, Faithfulness and Fidelity to my God, my Conscience and my Country paramount to every other consideration."

The second case is of interest, being the trial of a medical officer on charges of malpractice in the performance of his ordinary professional duties, and so far as the public records show, the only one occurring in the history of the Corps. On the fifth of March, 1827, Assistant Surgeon T--- S. B--- was arraigned before a General Court-Martial, convened at Fort Howard, Wisconsin, on the following charges and specifications:

"CHARGE I. Malpractice, and incompetency to the practical duties of his profession.

Specification 1st.-In this; that on or about the 9th day of February, 1827, at, or near Fort Howard, Green Bay, Michigan Territory, Assistant Surgeon T-- S. B---, U. S. Army, did improperly and injudiciously apply to the left leg and thigh of private John Mackay, "H" company, 2nd U. S. Infantry, the splints and dressings commonly used by surgeons for fractures of the thigh and leg, to wit: First, the common bandage, pads, straps, and two rigid splints below the knee; Secondly, three long splints four inches wide and four lines thick, extending from the hip and projecting beyond the heel, closely confined by strings, with counter-extending straps drawn painfully tight round the ankle of said leg, and firmly fastened to the projecting ends of these long splints, the upper end of which pressed so forcibly against the flesh and bones of the pubis and hip joint as to occasion great distress for two days or more, when there was no occasion for any splints, there being no other injury done to the said limb, than that of a simple contusion of the muscles and skin of the leg; thereby clearly showing his want of correct practical knowledge, and incompetency to the duties of his profession.

Specification 2nd.-In this; that on or about the 9th day of February, 1827, at, or near Fort Howard, Green Bay, Michigan Territory, the said Assistant Surgeon T--- S. B---, having had sufficient time and ample opportunity for examination and reflection upon the nature and extent of an injury done to the left leg of private John Mackay, "H" company, 2nd U. S. Infantry, aforesaid, by the kick of an ox, or otherwise, on or about the 8th day of February, 1827, did contrary to every rule of operative surgery, and the principles of modern practice, then and there wrongfully apply to the left leg and thigh of private John Mackay, aforesaid, and did uselessly and unnecessarily keep the said leg and thigh rigidly and painfully confined in the splints and bandages commonly used by surgeons for a fractured thigh and leg, for two days or more, merely for a simple contusion of the skin and muscles of the leg, thereby occasioning unnecessary pain and distress to said private John Mackay, and disclosing gross ignorance of the practice of surgery, and manifest incompetency to the duties of his profession.

Specification 3rd.-In this; that on or about the 9th day of February, 1827, at, or near Fort Howard, Green Bay, Michigan Territory, said Assistant Surgeon T--- S. B---, did erroneously apply to, and rigidly and painfully confine the left ankle and foot of private John Mackay, aforesaid, in straps and bandages so tightly drawn around the said ankle, for two days or more (under the pretence of extending the muscles of said leg, as is usual with surgeons in oblique fractures of the bones) as to cause much pain and an obstinate stiffness and lameness of the said ankle joint, for


two or three months of more, when there was not the least occasion for such practice, there being no other injury done to said limb than that of a simple contusion of the flesh upon the shin, thereby occasioning unnecessary pain and distress to the said John Mackay, aforesaid, from mere incompetence in the said Assistant Surgeon T--- S. B---, aforesaid, to form a correct judgement. of the said injury, or to apply the proper means of relief.

Specification 4th.-In this; that, he, the said Assistant Surgeon T--- S. B---, U. S. A., on or about the 8th day of February, 1827, at, or near Fort Howard, Green Bay, Michigan. Territory, did injudiciously apply to the neck and face of Private John Mackay, "H" company, 2nd U. S. Infantry, a piece of rigid pasteboard, six or eight inches long and three or four inches wide, the upper edge embracing the under jaw from ear to ear, and the other edge pressing upon the breast, and did there rigidly and worse than uselessly, confine it two days or more, to the pain and inconvenience of said Mackay, when there was no sufficient reason for so dressing him.

CHARGE II. Neglect of duty.

Specification 1st.-In this; that on or about the 8th day of February, 1827, at, or near Fort Howard, Green Bay, Michigan Territory, Assistant Surgeon T--- S. B---, U. S. A., did neglect properly to examine an injury done by the kick of an ox, or otherwise, to the limbs of private John Mackay, "H" company, 2nd U. S. Infantry, on or about the 8th day of February, 1827, and did also neglect, to ascertain the real nature and extent of said injury, or to apply the proper means and dressings for the relief of the said John Mackay, aforesaid, thereby failing to administer the necessary surgical aid, and neglecting the duty required of him as a surgeon.

Specification 2nd.-In this; that on or about the 9th day of February, 1827, at, or near Fort Howard, Green Bay, Michigan Territory, Assistant Surgeon T--- S. B--- aforesaid, after having had sufficient time, and ample opportunity to ascertain the nature and extent of an injury done to private John Mackay, "H" company, 2nd U. S. Infantry, by the kick of an ox, or otherwise, on the 8th day of .February, 1827, did neglect properly to examine the said injury, and did fail to apply the means of relief required of him as assistant surgeon, in consequence of which neglect and failure the said John Mackay suffered much unnecessary pain and distress for two days or more, between the 8th and 11th days of February, 1827."

There were other charges and specifications, but they related to matters foreign to the above case, and have no interest at the present time. Doctor B--- plead not guilty, but the court found him guilty of the first three specifications to the first charge, with the exception of those portions which charged him with incompetency, and not guilty of the fourth specification. Of the first charge he was found guilty of "malpractice," but not guilty of "incompetency to the duties of his profession." He was found guilty of both the second charge and its specifications, and sentenced "to be dismissed the service of the United States;" and the court, "in consequence of his inexperience do recommend him to the mercy of the President."

In consequence of the department commander having increased and reorganized the court, by an order subsequent to the date when it convened and after testimony had been taken, President Adams disapproved the proceedings,


without any comment on the merits of the case, and Doctor B--- was returned to duty. The trial, however, excited considerable discussion at the time, from the fact that a court composed entirely of line officers, and upon which the Medical Corps was not (and under existing regulations could not be) represented, was called on to decide a purely surgical question.

During the last years of this decade and the first of the succeeding one, a reform in the pay and emoluments allowed to medical officers became the subject of inquiry in Congress, and of general interest throughout the army. It was generally thought that their case was one of peculiar hardship. A large proportion of them were stationed at southern and frontier posts where the expenses of living were very great, many of them had large families to support, they were deprived by the regulations of the privilege of increasing their incomes by means of private practice, and their compensation remained at the same standard at which it had been fixed by the acts of the twelfth of April, 1808, and the thirtieth of March, 1814, while the nature of their duties had been greatly changed by subsequent enactments, and the cost of all the necessaries of life had increased. A bill to increase the pay of captains and subalterns of the line was passed March 2, 1827, but although the subject was twice favorably reported by the Military Committee of the Senate, no action was taken in reference to the Medical Corps. The result was that resignations were becoming so frequent as seriously to impair the efficiency of the service, for it was found impossible to retain men of high professional standing and experience on the miserable pittance of forty-five dollars a month for surgeons and forty for assistant surgeons, and without any hope of a future increase by means of promotion. As early as the twenty-eighth of December, 1826, Doctor Lovell submitted a report on the subject to the Secretary of War, of which the following is a copy:

December 28, 1826.


In reply to the inquiry whether it be expedient to graduate the pay of the surgeons and assistant surgeons of the army in proportion to the length of time they may have been in service, I beg leave to remark that forty-five or nine-tenths of the whole number are of the latter class, and of course can receive only the lowest grade of pay at any period and under any circumstances. The eight surgeons receive but five dollars per month and one ration per day more than the assistant surgeons, which therefore constitutes the only difference between the oldest surgeon and the youngest assistant, while the senior assistant who has been upwards of twenty years in service, and is among the oldest officers in the army, receives the same pay that he did on his first appointment in 1806, although an additional ration has within a few years been allowed to every other subaltern officer. It is believed this principle is adopted in relation to the Medical Department in every other service except our own; and it is


manifestly applicable to it in a special manner, because in no other profession is personal experience of such vital importance.

When a senior officer of the General Staff or of the line is removed, his place is immediately supplied by one who is nearly if not quite his equal, and the case is the same in the several promotions that take place down to the cadet who fills the last vacancy, and whose duties are adapted to his years; but the medical graduate who succeeds the experienced surgeon must at once assume all his duties and responsibilities, and have the sole care of the health and lives of the corps or garrison to which he may be attached, and the charge is often a serious one to those stationed beyond the reach of all other advice.

Upwards of three-fourths of the present assistant surgeons have been appointed within the last eight years, besides many others who have from time to time resigned during that period; and as the prospect of a moderate increase of pay would no doubt retain in the army much of the experience purchased at its expense, it would not only be fair and just towards those by whom this experience is possessed, but it is believed a full equivalent would be received by the public. For the actual expense of recruiting, transporting to most of the military posts, and preparing one or two new men to supply the places of those who may have been lost from unskilful treatment is fully equal to the additional pay of the experienced surgeon, who has been compelled to retire to private practice in consequence of being unable to meet his growing expenses. The reasonableness of this increase will further appear if the surgeon be compared with other officers, whose pay is about the same. The captain for example receives fifty-eight dollars per month, and the assistant surgeon fifty-two; they have each one servant, and the same allowance of fuel, quarters, etc., and the latter if he actually keep horses in service is also allowed eight dollars per month in lieu of forage, which is generally not more than sufficient to meet the additional expense; so that in point of fact the captain receives six dollars per month more than the assistant surgeon, and but five dollars per month less than the full surgeon towards defraying his necessary and personal expenses. It is moreover perfectly well known that even a subaltern officer can, and actually does in almost every case, live more conveniently and comfortably than the surgeon, in consequence of the various little offices performed by his men when off duty, all of which are a direct charge upon the latter. But the important difference between the captain and the surgeon is, that the pay of the latter is invariably the same, while the former is constantly advancing to promotion in rank and emoluments. The commission of the oldest captain (who however is Adjutant General with the pay of a colonel) is of .July, 1812, and that of the oldest assistant surgeon is of March, 1806, a difference of six years.

But four assistant surgeons have been promoted in ten years, with the additional pay of only eleven dollars per month, without the possibility of a further increase, while in the same period thirteen captains have been promoted to be majors, and nineteen lieutenant colonels and colonels in their respective grades. Nor has regular promotion been considered sufficient for the officers of the General Staff, and of the line, and therefore they receive brevet commissions for every ten years of service, and are often entitled to all the advantages of these commissions previous to their promotion. They are moreover entitled to double rations when on separate command, and are frequently on staff and other duties by which their compensation is materially increased, while the surgeon can in no case receive any additional allowance either on account of his situation, the extent or importance of his duties, or his length of service.

The surgeons are not only confined to their original pay whatever may be the


necessary increase of their expenses as they advance in life, but they are more constantly on duty than any other officer in service. For the number being barely sufficient to supply the several posts, they are seldom permitted to leave their stations, as no one else can perform their duties; and they are thus sometimes compelled in urgent cases to hire a substitute at their own expense, while at most of the interior posts even this is impracticable, and hence some have been on daily duty for ten years; whereas an officer of the line can at once be relieved by the next in command or his place be supplied by one of the same grade. This is a consideration of no inconsiderable importance not only comparatively in relation to others, but positively in relation to the surgeon himself; for cases have occurred where all the officers of a post have been repeatedly changed on account of their ill health, while the surgeon has been compelled to remain at the sacrifice not only of his health, but in more than one instance of his life; and a standing order has even been issued that he shall in no case be so far from the garrison that he could not be called on in case of accident.

The present compensation, especially of the assistant surgeons, is obviously incompetent to the comfortable support of those who are somewhat advanced in life; although quite sufficient on their first appointment. They are allowed but one servant, and one room with the necessary fuel, and hence they are often under the necessity of applying a considerable portion of their pay to these objects, leaving but four or five hundred dollars for all the other expenses of their families, out of which they are compelled to meet considerable additional expenses incident to their commissions, which are of course never incurred by a retired and economical private individual.

To these considerations it may be proper to add that the surgeon is required to be a regular medical graduate in order to become a candidate for appointment and that all the expenses of a liberal education generally including a collegiate and a medical course are paid by himself; while the cadet is prepared for service at the public expense, and therefore while the latter is in some measure refunding an advance the former ought to receive a reasonable consideration on account of his own investment.

Should it be deemed advisable to graduate the pay of surgeons on this principle, the following ratio of increase is respectfully submitted for consideration, viz: that in lieu of the monthly pay and rations as at present allowed, the assistant surgeons should receive forty dollars per month and two rations per day, and the surgeons fifty-five dollars per month and five rations per day on their first appointment; with an increase of five dollars per month and one ration per day for every three years they shall have served in their respective grades, provided that in no case shall the increase to the assistant surgeon exceed ten dollars per month and two rations per day, or that of the surgeon five dollars per month and one ration per day; and it will at once be perceived that nearly nine-tenths of the whole number will necessarily be confined within the first limits for life, as but eight can expect promotion in twenty years, or arrive at the highest rate under twenty-six years, which with the number that from the ordinary incidents of the service will always be at the lowest rate and receive the same compensation as at present will make about an average increase of ten dollars per month and one ration per day, which would amount to the same as has been proposed for captains when in command of their companies.

Very respectfully, etc.,

Surgeon General, U.S.A."


In the following session of Congress a bill was introduced into the House of Representatives graduating the pay of medical officers on the plan above proposed, but no action was taken on it. In consequence of the numerous petitions on the subject, not only from the Medical Staff but also from line officers, the Senate on the eleventh of December, 1828, passed a resolution of inquiry, which being referred to Surgeon General Lovell, that officer addressed an elaborate review of the case to the Hon. Thomas H. Benton, chairman of the Senate Military Committee. Still, although bills were introduced into both houses providing for an increase of pay, they failed to meet favorable consideration for several years. In his annual report for 1831, Hon. Lewis Cass, Secretary of War, says:

"We have sixty-four military stations and recruiting stations requiring surgeons, and we have in service but fifty-three surgeons and assistants. There is no economy in the present management, nor is it advantageous to the public interest. An increase of the Corps as recommended by the Surgeon General is evidently required. The considerations urged by him for an addition to the pay of surgeons and assistants are certainly forcible. There is no portion of the army whose compensation is so inadequate, nor is there any which presents less prospects of reward. There are but two grades of rank in our medical service, and the emolument of the highest is but little superior to that of a captain."

And again in the following year he says:

"There is probably no class of officers under the government whose compensation is more inadequate to their service than that of the Medical Staff of the Army. There are but two grades, surgeon and assistant surgeon, in the Corps, and the pay of the former is forty-five dollars a month, and the pay of the latter forty dollars a month. The prospects of gradual and continued promotion held out to the other officers of the army, is a powerful incentive to good conduct, and when realized becomes its just reward. Of this the medical officers are deprived, for the slight difference in rank and pay at present existing is scarcely worthy of consideration; the nature of their profession requiring time, experience and pecuniary means for its acquisition; the responsible and arduous services demanded of them; the relation, not always a pleasant one, in which they stand to the line of the army; and I may add in justice to this meritorious class of officers their general capacity, respectability and good conduct, entitle them to a higher rate of compensation, and I indulge the hope that their claims may be favorably considered."

To show how deeply the unfortunate condition of the Medical Staff had excited the attention and sympathy of the army at large, the following petition is selected from a large number that were presented to Congress during the years in which this question was agitated. It was made by the officers of the third and seventh regiments of infantry:

"To the Honorable the Senate, etc.,

The undersigned officers of the Army of the United States, deeply impressed with a sense of the value and importance of the services of the Medical Staff, and impelled by the friendly interest which the peculiar nature of their duties so naturally awa-


kens in our minds, respectfully beg leave to make to your honorable body such representation in their behalf as we believe to be in consonance with the attributes of justice, and therefore best calculated to ensure on the part of your honorable body, the most favorable consideration touching their present condition. It is one of the cardinal principles flowing from our form of government and resulting from the genius of our institutions, that the rate of compensation shall always be in a direct ratio to the value of the services rendered; and taking this principle for our guide, we believe it may be safely averred that the Medical Staff of the army labor under peculiar disadvantages, and that independent of certain oppressive disabilities incidentally connected with the tenure of their appointment as medical officers, a spirit of justice calls for further legislative provision with reference to their pay and emoluments. It is not our design to touch upon details, or to anticipate that liberal spirit which has ever influenced your honorable body, by proposing any specific increase of compensation.

All the information necessary on the subject of the relative emoluments of the several branches of the army, is presumed to be in the possession of your honorable body, but we should not do justice to the subject did we fail to present for your consideration some facts of primary importance which we would fain hope may not fail to sustain our petition, and induce your aquiescence.

We regard it as a leading defect of the present system of the organization of the Medical Staff, that the same services are rendered by all of its members, that they severally incur the same responsibilities, but receive unequal amounts of pay, etc.; that there is an absence of that great stimulus to human exertion, the prospect of bettering their condition by a graduated increase of emoluments having reference to length of service, a defect which is found in no other branch of the service, and which is believed to be seriously detrimental to its best interest.

It is to be presumed from the vital importance to the efficiency of the army which results from the employment of well educated members of the medical profession, that in the legislative provision made for their support, there would be found sufficient inducement to retain them permanently in service. Yet from the inadequacy of their compensation with reference to their real necessities, the disproportionate rate of compensation between themselves and officers of assimilated rank, but more especially to the lucrative practice of the profession in civil life, it follows that resignations are for the most part confined to that class which is best calculated to give efficiency to the service, and respectability to the medical profession. Among the regulations which have been deemed necessary for the government of the Medical Staff, there are a number which are singularly oppressive and from the operation of which all other branches of the service are exempt. From their limited number they are subjected to do duty even when under arrest; they cannot receive the indulgence of a furlough unless they provide a substitute to discharge their duties except by the special sanction of the Secretary of War, and are moreover debarred the advantages of private practice, subject to the same restrictions. We therefore pray that their compensation may be placed on such a footing, as your honorable body on consideration of the subject, may deem correspondent to their services."

Notwithstanding these and other urgent appeals it was not until the thirtieth of June, 1834, that Congress finally passed a bill "Increasing and regulating the pay of the Surgeons and Assistant Surgeons of the Army." This bill was as follows:


"SECTION I. Be it enacted, etc., That from and after the passing of this act, no person shall receive the appointment of assistant surgeon of the army of the United States, unless he shall have been examined and approved by an Army Medical Board, to consist of not less than three surgeons or assistant surgeons who shall be designated for that purpose by the Secretary of War; and no person shall receive the appointment of surgeon in the army of the United States, unless he shall have served at least five years as an assistant surgeon, and unless also he shall have been examined by an army board constituted as aforesaid.

SECTION II. And be it further enacted, That the surgeons in the army of the United States shall be entitled to receive the pay and emoluments of a Major; and the assistant surgeons who shall have served five years, shall be entitled to receive the pay and emoluments of a Captain; and those who shall have served less than five years, the pay and emoluments of a First Lieutenant; and that said assistant surgeons shall be entitled to receive the same allowance for forage as they are at present entitled to.

SECTION III. And be it further enacted, That every surgeon and assistant surgeon who shall have served faithfully ten years in these grades respectively, shall be entitled to receive an increase of rations per day, equal to the number of rations to which he may be entitled under this act."

In order to complete the record relative to this question of the pay and emoluments of the Medical Staff we have been obliged to anticipate to some extent the regular course of events. It will therefore be necessary to look back for several years, to consider other matters of interest in connection with the history of the Department. The general orders issued during the period were neither very numerous nor very important, yet they are worthy of record, as they show the gradual manner in which the deficiencies and abuses of the old organization were rectified and the department grew into the shape which obtained up to the commencement of the rebellion. On the second of December, 1828, the following order was issued relative to the duties of soldiers detailed in hospitals:

December 2, 1828.

No non-commissioned officer or private soldier who may be selected to act as steward, wardmaster, cook or nurse of a hospital in conformity with the provisions of paragraph 1232 of the General Regulations, shall be required by any officer not of the Medical Staff to perform any duty except that of attending weekly inspections, the regular musters for payment, and in cases of the most urgent necessity.

Secretary of War."

So much confusion and recrimination had arisen from the practice of allowing medical officers to choose their own stations, that the Surgeon General recommended a repeal of the order permitting it, and in consequence on the sixteenth of March, 1830, the following order was promulgated by the War Department:


"The regulation of December 14, 1825, allowing senior surgeons and assistant surgeons choice of stations is hereby rescinded. They will hereafter be assigned to the several regiments and posts by the Secretary of War on application through the Surgeon General.

No surgeon or assistant surgeon shall receive a furlough or leave of absence for a period exceeding thirty days, and no extension of such furlough or leave of absence shall be granted until he shall have returned to the post where he was stationed at the time of receiving said furlough. In all cases where a furlough for a longer period is required, application must be made to the Secretary of War accompanied with the written approval of the commanding officer of the regiment or post. The expenses incident to the employment of private physicians make it necessary to withhold furloughs unless under circumstances of high necessity. Such surgeons and assistant surgeons as are now on furlough will repair to their respective posts by the time of the expiration of the furlough; and all will be expected to be at their posts by the fifteenth of April, unless sufficient cause to justify their absence shall be shown to the Department.

Secretary of War."

Other orders, pertaining to the duties of medical officers, which were issued about this time, were as follows:

   Washington, April 2, 1830.


To avoid the inconvenience resulting from the suspension of the functions of the officers of the Medical Staff, it is recommended to officers in command that whenever charges shall be preferred against a surgeon or assistant surgeon, that they transmit the charges to the officer having authority to order a General Court-Martial for his trial, and a copy thereof to the party accused; but not to put the surgeon or assistant surgeon in arrest until the court ordered for his trial shall have assembled.

        Major General Commanding the Army. 
   R. JONES, 
   Adjutant General."

  May 14, 1830.

The Surgeon General and Assistant Surgeon resident at Washington will give medical attendance to such officers living at the city of Washington on duty, and their families as shall become sick; and no citizen physician's account will hereafter be allowed unless it shall appear that the Surgeon General or the Assistant Surgeon was applied to, and that the aid of neither could be procured.

      J. H. EATON, 
      Secretary of War."

The question of the reduction of the expenses of the army was made the subject of discussion in Congress during the years 1829 and 1830, and on the twenty-sixth of April in the latter year the House of Representatives passed the following resolution:


"Resolved, That the Secretary of War be directed to report to this House at the commencement of the next session, whether any reduction in the number of officers in the Army of the United States, can be made without injury to the public service and if any what reduction; together with a plan for the most efficient organization of the army in conformity with the reduction proposed."

To obtain the data necessary for making the above report, the Secretary of War addressed a circular to all the General and other principal officers, requesting their opinion as to what changes would inure to the advantage of the service. In their replies Generals Scott, Clinch and others recommended no change whatever; General Gaines and Colonel Cummings, third infantry, advised a return to the old system of regimental medical officers and post surgeons; General Atkinson considered the Medical Department as essential, and that under the wide distribution of the troops any reduction of the number of medical officers would be seriously detrimental to the best interests of the service. Colonel Crane, fourth artillery, said; "The Medical Department it is believed would be improved by abolishing the grade of assistant surgeon, (as there is no rank or distinction among medical men except what merit may give,) and fixing their pay and emoluments according to their length of service; allowing them a higher scale of consideration when they come in contact with officers of the line than they have heretofore received."

The opinion of the Surgeon General was positive not only against any reduction of the number of medical officers, but also in favor of their decided increase. For five years in his quarterly reports to the Secretary of War he had not failed to call attention to the want of medical officers at many of the posts, and the lack of economy and efficiency in the employment of citizen physicians under contract. He had repeatedly shown the injustice done to those in service, from the fact of the number of posts being greater than that of the medical officers; some of the latter having been continuously on duty for many years, without any opportunity to obtain a leave of absence without employing a physician at their own expense, which they could not afford to do. Upon being called upon, therefore, by the Secretary of War for his opinion on these questions during the discussion of the above resolution in the House of Representatives, he wrote the following reply, reiterating the sentiments expressed in his previous reports:

  9 January, 1830.


SIR: In reply to your letter of the seventh inst., enclosing the copy of a resolution of the Committee on Retrenchment, I beg leave to state that any reduction of the number or compensation of the surgeons and assistant surgeons of the army is deemed inexpedient, as the necessity of an increase of their number, and the equity of an


increase of their compensation, has been fully stated in reports heretofore made to the Department; and it is understood that a bill for these purposes has been recently reported to the House of Representatives.

With regard to the responsibilities, economy and efficiency of the administrative branch of this Department, I beg leave respectfully to refer to the 73rd article of the army regulations defining the duties of its several officers, and to remark that the average expense during the three years previous to its present organization was about seven dollars per man, and for the two subsequent years about three dollars per man, making a difference of about $45,000 per annum. Since the reduction of the army in 1821, the ratio of expense has continued about the same, and in proportion to the existing establishment is less now than it was under that of 1802. This has been effected by the regulations adopted in relation to purchasing and furnishing supplies, auditing accounts, securing responsibility for all public property under the charge of the several officers of the Department, and requiring reports that shall show the manner in which their official duties are performed, and it is therefore believed that if any further improvements are required in these respects, they may be made by such alterations in the regulations referred to, as experience may suggest, or the exigencies of the service may require, since from the nature of the case all the expenses of the Department are contingent, and its economy and efficiency must mainly depend upon the manner in which its administrative duties are performed.

With respect to the expenses of this branch of the Department, I have to state that the compensation at present allowed to its principal officer is somewhat less than that allowed to the other officers performing similar duties, with the exception of the Paymaster General; and that the only clerk employed receives a salary of the fifth rate; there being but two lower under existing laws. The contingent expenses for fuel, stationery, printing, etc., for the four last years have averaged $226 per annum, and the estimates are believed to be as low as the duties of the office will permit.

Previous to the reduction of the army in 1821 the officers of the Apothecaries' Department, were required by law "to give bonds to the United States, with good and sufficient security for the faithful performance of their duties in such sums as shall be required by the Surgeon General of the Army, under the direction of the War Department," (Act May 8, 1820), and I would respectfully suggest the propriety of requiring similar bonds from the surgeon or assistant surgeons who have been, or may be assigned to perform these duties, as they must necessarily have a large amount of property under their charge, and would make considerable disbursements on account of the Department.

    Very respectfully, etc.,
   Surgeon General."

Six months later, he wrote again to the Secretary as follows:

   1 August, 1830.


SIR: In compliance with a resolution of the House of Representatives received on the fourth of May last, requiring a report 'whether any reduction in the number of officers in the army of the United States can be made without injury to the public service; and if any what reduction; together with a plan for the most efficient organization of the army, in conformity with the reduction proposed,' and in relation to


the Medical Department I have to state, that not withstanding a very considerable increase in the number of military posts and stations, the number of medical officers is less than it has been at any period within the last twenty years.

Under the establishment of 1808 before the late war, there were sixty-nine surgeons and mates; under that of 1815 after the war, there were at first seventy-seven and subsequently sixty-nine, while under that of 1821, with a trifling if with any reduction of posts it was reduced to fifty-three. Even under the establishment of 1802 with half the force and probably less than half the number of stations there were thirty-three surgeons and mates; and at least double that number is required at present.

This number even if a furlough or leave of absence be granted on no occasion and the whole be constantly fit for duty, is insufficient to meet the demands of the service, as has been stated and fully explained in former reports to the Department on this subject. From ten to twelve private physicians have generally been required at the regular stations, and others are necessarily employed during the year for limited periods. By a report to the Department on the eighteenth of April last it appears that $22,633 were expended on this account in the years 1828 and 1829, of which $18,370 were paid to those employed at the several stations and for attending detachment's on the march; and the remainder for attendance on officers and their families stationed at places where there was no surgeon of the army. The amount expended on this account during the two first quarters of the present year was $6,025. Unless therefore, there be a material change in the distribution of the army, and the posts be reduced below what they have been for the last ten years, no reduction can be made in the number of surgeons without a proportionate increase of the expenses of the Department,, and without disadvantage to the public service.

With regard to the administrative branch of the Department, it is believed to have answered the purpose for which it was established by securing the professional responsibility of its several officers, a strict accountability for public property, and a material reduction of its expenses. By the regulations of 1818 which were compiled with especial reference to the well known deficiencies of the Department in all these respects, both during the late war and under the organization of 1815, every officer is required to make full reports to the chief of the Department on all matters relating to his professional duties, with 'remarks relative to the nature and symptoms of the the diseases reported, the treatment adopted, the medicines and stores most in demand, &c., &c., together with observations on the medical topography of the post, station or hospital, the climate, prevalent diseases, their probable causes, etc.' Reports of this character from every surgeon having charge of an hospital, made at various periods and from every section of the country, will enable the latter on his part to make the 'returns and reports necessary to explain all the concerns of the Department under his charge, with such remarks relative to improvements in practice and police, and to the clothing and subsistence of the army, as may seem to be required for the preservation of health, the comfort and recovery of the sick, and the good of the public service;' and if he possesses the requisite professional information and experience in army and hospital practice, these circumstances cannot fail to furnish him with the means of appreciating the qualifications, services and merit of those by whom they are made.

The information thus obtained in reference to the diseases of the several posts and the practice of the surgeons, as well as of the state of their supplies and the quantities ordinarily expended with a given number of men in the several sections of country,


through the returns and requisitions required by the regulations, will not only enable him to keep every post regularly and amply supplied, but to examine all returns with reference to these facts and circumstances, and to see that every article is satisfactorily accounted for, and that the expenditures are in proportion to the diseases and cases reported. From these data again, accurate and specific estimates can be made of the probable expenses of the Department for each year, and for any given number of men; while a supervision of the purchases and disbursements enable him to limit the expenses of the several items of appropriation that may have been made in conformity with these estimates; so that while on the one hand he is held responsible that the hospitals are regularly furnished with suitable medical attendance, and amply supplied with whatever may be necessary for the comfort and recovery of the sick, on the other he has every inducement to effect this at the least possible expense. The result of these arrangements has been to render the expenses of the Department materially less than they have been at any former period. In 1806 and 1807, under the establishment of 1802, they were four dollars per man, in 1810 and 1811, under that of 1808 and before the late war, they were five dollars per man, in 1817 and 1818, under that of 1815 and for the two years previously to the present organization, they were seven dollars and a half per man, while in 1819 and 1820 they were but three dollars per man. The average of 1817 and 1818 was $95,416, and that of 1819 and 1820, but $39,104. In 1818, $87,745 were expended, and in 1819 under precisely similar circumstances, but $40,914, or less than one-half. Since the reduction of the army in 1821 the ratio has continued the same, with the exception of that for private physicians as has been above explained.

The seventy-third article of the army regulations are believed fully to exhibit all the duties that can devolve on the Medical Department either on a war or peace establishment, and it is also believed that a reference to these regulations and to the operations of the Department for the last twelve years will show that the organization of 1821 is well calculated to insure the efficiency of the Department at the least possible expense, it being only necessary to increase the number of surgeons in proportion to the force to be raised, the service to be performed, and the number of posts to be occupied; and to allow the chief of the Department the assistant required for the performance of his duties as its 'Director and immediate accounting officer.'

       Very respectfully,
       Your obedient servant,
  Surgeon General."

The Secretary of War in communicating these various opinions to the Military Committee of the House, wrote an elaborate report on the subject of army organization. The only suggestion he made in reference to the Medical Department was as follows:

"The Surgeon General of the Army might be dispensed with. He has no disbursements to superintend or make, no bonds to receive, no accounts to revise or responsibilities to encounter. The principal and material duty to be encountered by him is in the purchasing and distributing of medicines, a duty which is performed by a quartermaster of the army at New York, at which place medical supplies are obtained, and from which point they are distributed to the several posts."


It is not surprising that so uncalled for a recommendation should have been keenly felt by the Surgeon General, whose faithful and economical administration of the affairs of his department for thirteen years, had been a matter of universal commendation. After a personal conversation with the Secretary on the subject, he obtained his permission to address him another communication to be transmitted to the House of Representatives. In this letter, which is too long for insertion, he reviews in detail the history of the Department since he assumed control of its affairs. He shows that the statement of the Secretary that the purchasing and distributing of medicines was performed by a quartermaster in New York, was entirely incorrect, Surgeon T. G. Mower having been stationed for ten years in that city in the performance of this very duty, to which he had been detailed on the abolition of the Apothecaries' Department in 1821, and that the Quartermaster's Department had been by paragraph 1010 of the Army Regulations expressly prohibited from making such purchases, but that in order to meet certain contingent expenses when cash payments were necessary, that department had in a few instances made purchases of bedding and furniture for the Medical Department.

With regard to the statement of the Secretary, that the Surgeon General "had no disbursements to superintend or make, etc.," he shows that the principal object in the original establishment of the office was to make that officer responsible for just such duties, and that the seventy-third paragraph of the Army Regulations was drafted with a special reference to this intention; that all reports and returns from medical officers were received by him, all orders in reference to their duties issued through him, all estimates for funds made by him, all expenditures of appropriations accounted for in his quarterly reports to the War Department. He shows further, by a recapitulation of the statistics given in previous reports, that under his administration the expenses of the Department have been only about one-half what they were previous to the reorganization in 1818, and they could be still further reduced if the Medical Staff was sufficiently large to enable him to dispense with the services of contract physicians. In every particular he refutes the statements of the Secretary, and without adverting to the "propriety of the establishment or continuance of his office," concludes by expressing a wish that his statement might be forwarded to the chairman of the Military Committee of the House, to whom the whole matter had been referred. That body, after due consideration of the various reports received, decided that the circumstances demanded an increase rather than a reduction of the Medical Staff, and reported a bill to that effect to the House, which, however, was not passed until the twenty-eighth of June, 1832. The bill was as follows:


"Be it enacted, etc., That the President be, and he is hereby authorized by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint four additional surgeons and ten additional surgeon's mates in the army of the United States."

A question arose in 1829 in reference to the relative rank of some of the assistant surgeons. In the reorganization of the Corps in 1821, the position of officers on the Register was fixed according to the " relative rank of the parties at the time the present appointments were made." Consequently all officers were arranged as they had been under the act of April, 1818, when the hospital surgeons and surgeon's mates became post surgeons, the Corps being only increased by the addition of the regimental surgeon's mates, who were all arranged as junior to those who had been post surgeons. The arrangement of 1818 was made without any regard to the date of original entry into service, but only to the rank held by them at the time of the reorganization ; consequently some officers who had served in the war of 1.812, and indeed previous to that time, were arranged below others who had been appointed hospital surgeons subsequent to the war. Assistant Surgeons Eaton and Day claimed that injustice was done them in this arrangement, the latter having been a garrison surgeon's mate in 1807, and the former a hospital mate in 1814. It was therefore proposed to rectify the records so as to arrange the assistant surgeons on the Register in the order of their original entry into service without regard to the rank they held at the time of the reorganization. This necessitated the following changes:



1. Asst. Surg. Sargent.

1. Asst. Surg. Sargent, 1806.

2. Asst. Surg. Turner.

2. Asst. Surg. Day, 1807.

3. Asst. Surg. Swift.

3. Asst. Surg.  Mann, 1812.

4. Asst. Surg. Monroe.

4. Asst. Surg. Turner, 1812.

5. Asst. Surg. Smith.

5. Asst. Surg. Swift, 1814.

6. Asst. Surg. Mann.

6. Asst. Surg. Eaton, 1814.

7. Asst. Surg. Day.

7. Asst. Surg. Archer, 1814.

8. Asst. Surg. Eaton.

8. Asst. Surg. Monroe, 1816.

9. Asst. Surg. Clitherall.

9. Asst. Surg. Smith, 1816.

10. Asst. Surg. Archer.

10. Asst. Surg. Clitherall, 1817.

The Secretary of War favorably considered the appeal of Assistant Surgeons Day and Eaton, and the proposed alterations were made, in accordance with the suggestions of the Surgeon General, on the Army Register for 1831.

Although the Army Regulations for 1825 contained a clause that no person should receive the appointment of assistant surgeon until after examination by a properly authorized board, yet this rule had never been carried out on account of the difficulty of detailing medical officers for this purpose. General Orders, No. 58, from the War Department, dated July 7, 1832, reiterated the regula-


tion and directed that hereafter it should be strictly enforced, and to carry out its provisions the following order was issued:

   December 13, 1832.

A Medical Board will be convened in the City of New York on the fifteenth of January next, who will examine the qualifications of such candidates for appointment in the Medical Department of the Army as may be authorized to present themselves for that purpose, and will report to the Surgeon General thereon.

The Board will consist of the following members, who will receive the same allowances as are authorized to members of a Court-Martial.

Surgeon Thomas G. Mower, President.

Surgeon W. V. Wheaton; Assistant Surgeon J. P. Russell, members.

In case of the absence of either of the members, Assistant Surgeon Edward Macomb will supply the vacancy.

       LEWIS CASS, 
  Secretary of War."

The board assembled in New York on the day appointed, and held daily sessions until the twenty-fourth of January, when they adjourned sine die. Six candidates for appointment were examined, of whom five were found qualified.

A second board was ordered to convene in New Orleans on the first of April, with the following detail: Surgeon Thomas Lawson, President; Surgeon Thomas G. Mower and Assistant Surgeon S. R Smith, members, with Surgeon J. P. C. Mac Mahon as supernumerary. This board was directed, after examining all candidates who might present themselves in New Orleans, to proceed to Forts Pike, Jackson, Jesup and other stations in the southwest, and examine the medical officers of those posts; to proceed thence to St. Louis, and hold sessions for the examination of candidates for appointment; then to visit all the northern and northwestern stations, proceeding to New York city as soon as this duty was performed; and finally to Washington for the purpose of making their report. They were also directed at each post visited to inspect and report on the condition of the hospital, the supplies and medicines furnished, the nature and treatment of the sick, and all other matters pertaining to the administration of the Department.. The board completed the duties assigned them and arrived in Washington by the twenty-fifth of October. Forty-one candidates were authorized to appear before the board, of whom twenty presented themselves and were examined; of these twelve were found qualified for appointment and eight rejected. Twenty medical officers were examined for promotion of whom fifteen received a favorable report.

The experience gained by the sessions of these boards made it evident that further regulations were advisable relative to appointments and promotions,


and on the recommendation of the Surgeon General the following additional rules were promulgated:

"1.     In deciding on the fitness of candidates for appointment or promotion in the Medical Staff to perform the duties of the several stations to which they are to be appointed, the Medical Board of Examination shall take into consideration their physical qualifications and moral habits, as well as their professional acquirements.

2.     When a candidate for appointment shall fail to receive a favorable report from a Medical Board of Examination, he shall if desired be entitled to a second examination after the expiration of two years, and on a second failure shall be dropped front the list of applicants.

3.     When an assistant surgeon shall fail to receive a favorable report from a Medical Board of Examination, his connection with the Medical Staff shall cease from that time."

The following order in reference to hospital stewards was issued during this year:

   October 15, 1833.

At garrisons, posts and stations where a suitable hospital steward cannot be obtained from the command, the surgeon or assistant surgeon is authorized to enlist a man for the purpose, who will be permanently attached to the hospital and will be mustered with the other hospital attendants. The hospital steward who may be so enlisted will be entitled to receive fifteen cents per day extra pay when the garrison, post or station consists of from one to five companies, and twenty cents per day when it exceeds that number.

       LEWIS CASS,
   Secretary of War."

In the summer of 1832 occurred the Black Hawk war, or the "Cholera campaign" as it was generally known in the army, from the dreadful ravages of that disease among the troops ordered to the field. The Sac and Fox Indians having assumed a hostile attitude on the borders of Illinois and Michigan, all the regular troops at the west were concentrated for field service at Fort Dearborn (now Chicago) under command of General Atkinson. It being anticipated that this force would not be sufficient to successfully prosecute the war, troops were also ordered from the sea-board and eastern lake stations, and Major General Winfield Scott assigned to the command of the whole force. Surgeon Josiah Everett was Medical Director. Seven companies of troops from Fort Monroe and New York Harbor, under command of Colonel Twiggs, left Buffalo for Detroit on the third of July on the steamer "Henry Clay." The next day when near the latter city, a man was taken suddenly ill, and his case pronounced by Assistant Surgeon Robert E. Kerr to be Asiatic cholera. Up to that time the disease had not appeared in the United States, although it had


been very prevalent at Quebec and other places in Lower Canada. The boat was very much crowded, and a large portion of the men were obliged to sleep on the upper deck exposed to the night air. Just after arrival at Detroit a second case occurred and the first died, and General Scott ordered the command up the lake to disembark if necessary at Bois Blanc, an island near Mackinaw. Surgeon Everett, Medical Director of the Northwestern Army, accompanied them. After leaving Detroit cases multiplied so rapidly and there was such alarm among the men that Colonel Twiggs considered it best to disembark as soon as possible, and accordingly the troops were landed and encamped just below Fort Gratiot. Just after the disembarkation a terrible rain storm came up, which drenched the men and materially increased the number of cases. A large barn was immediately taken for a hospital and the sick made as comfortable as possible, but they multiplied so fast that soon it was impossible to give them the requisite attention. Doctor Everett reported that up to the eighth of July there had been twenty-five cases and seven deaths. The next day he was taken sick himself, and died on the fourteenth. Up to the sixteenth the number of deaths was thirty-four, though this does not represent the total mortality, for many soldiers deserted in the panic which ensued on their first arrival at Fort Gratiot, and taking the disease were found dead and dying on the roads for many miles. After the sixteenth the disease declined, there being but two deaths subsequently.

The following extract of a private letter from a veteran officer of the army, who was on board the "Henry Clay," besides giving an interesting description of the outbreak, pays a high tribute to the fidelity and efficiency of Assistant Surgeon Kerr:

"In 1832 the troops in New York Harbor and elsewhere were ordered to the west to act against the Sacs and Foxes then hostile to us. Accordingly the Fourth Artillery embarked on the eighteenth of June for Chicago, via the Hudson river, the canal and lakes. The Asiatic cholera had then just made its appearance in Canada, but not yet in the United States, and all along the line of the canal to Buffalo, we met evidences of panic and alarm among the citizens. We arrived without incident at Buffalo, and sailed from thence on the third of July on the steamer Henry Clay, Assistant Surgeon Robert E. Kerr, a young officer, being our only medical officer, and of him and not of our expedition I propose to write. On the afternoon of the fourth of July, after we had a fourth of July dinner, being of the port of Erie, and while the young officers were joking about the cholera, the then prominent subject of thought, the hospital steward came into the cabin and reported to the doctor that one of the privates was taken suddenly very ill. We went on deck and found the man in great agony, and the doctor at once pronounced it a case of cholera. He took the case in hand and was unremitting in his attentions, but the man died at half past three the next morning. This was I think the first case in the United States, and the man came immediately from Baltimore and had never been where the cholera was.


Before he died another case occurred, and during the night we arrived at Detroit, where we were visited by Dr. Everett and several citizen physicians who all pronounced the disease to be Asiatic cholera. General Scott ordered us to proceed about three miles up the strait, and there await his further orders. The next morning having been joined by Dr. Everett, who was chief of General Scott's Medical Staff, we were ordered to proceed on our voyage. The cases at this time increased very fast, the first three being from Major Payne's company, but then it extended not only to the other troops but also to the crew, so that before we got to Fort Gratiot the decks were covered with the dead and dying, and not enough men remained to navigate the vessel, so that the voyage was broken up and we landed about a mile below Fort Gratiot where we encamped. A heavy rain came on and the cases increased rapidly and among them Dr. Everett, so that Dr. Kerr was the only medical officer. The sick were removed to a neighboring barn, which was soon filled; I counted one morning in passing it, six dead bodies lying outside awaiting burial.

The disease raged with unabated fury (including several officers among its victims, of which two, Dr. Everett and Lieutenant Clay died) until July 11th, when it begin to abate though there were daily deaths for some time afterwards. Amid all these scenes Dr. Kerr unassisted attended to officers and men both day and night, and I think never had the slightest relaxation during that time. His devotion to duty was the admiration, and his power of endurance the wonder of all. The last case was taken sick on the sixteenth, and the last death occurred on the twenty-first. We lost I think between forty and fifty, and I lost one-third of my company."

Two days after the command above mentioned left Detroit, the cholera broke out in a detachment of troops from Fort Niagara which was in Detroit awaiting transportation to Chicago. Within twenty-four hours there were eleven cases and four deaths; when the city authorities becoming alarmed requested the removal of the troops, and they were accordingly embarked on the steamer "Superior" en route for Chicago. The day after their departure fourteen new cases came on sick report and two died, and it was thought advisable to land the troops, which was done at a point fourteen miles south of Fort Gratiot. Assistant Surgeon H. Stevenson was medical officer to this command. Of a total strength of but seventy-eight, sixty-three had the disease up to the fourteenth of July, and there were nineteen deaths. In the garrison at Fort Gratiot, under charge of Assistant Surgeon Steinecke, during the same period there were twenty-one deaths. The disease was carried to Chicago by steamboats from Detroit, from whence Assistant Surgeon DeCamp reported two hundred cases admitted to hospital in six days of a mean strength of about one thousand, and fifty-one deaths. This command marched subsequently to the Mississippi river and the pestilence reappeared among them on their arrival at their destination and proved almost as fatal as in Chicago. In fact the whole expedition was completely broken up by the ravages of the disease; but as General Atkinson's command had taken the field before its appearance it escaped, and was enabled to prosecute the war to a successful termination.


Much astonishment was expressed at the time that the disease should have broken out on steamers on the lake many miles from any land, and it was thought by many to be an instance of the transfer of the contagious elements through the atmosphere; but it was subsequently ascertained that both the "Henry Clay" and the "Superior" had been employed in carrying emigrants (among whom the disease prevailed) from Quebec to Montreal, and there seems little reason to doubt that the boats were infected previous to their charter by the United States. In the Southern Division and especially at New Orleans the disease was very prevalent. Three hundred and eighty-four cases were reported, of which eighty-eight died.

On the third of March, 1834, the third medical board convened in Washington. It was composed of the same members as the preceding one. Twenty candidates for appointment were authorized to appear for examination, of whom eight received a favorable report. On the third of November a fourth board assembled in New York city, composed of Surgeons Thomas G. Mower and Zina Pitcher and Assistant Surgeon Thomas Henderson, with Assistant Surgeon Joseph P. Russell as supernumerary. Thirteen candidates were authorized to appear, of whom nine were examined and four passed a satisfactory examination. This was the first board assembled pursuant to the act of Congress of June 30, 1834, and it may be interesting to present an account of the manner in which examinations were conducted at that time, as given in the following extract of a report by Surgeon Mower:

"In ascertaining the professional attainments of candidates it became at first the duty of the Board to decide on the mode of conducting the examinations. The most important step was to arrange the branches in which examination should be held.

As the branches of practical medical science are now conventionally and very positively established, there was no difficulty or doubt in arranging them.

They were divided by the Board as follows: 

1.     Anatomy and Physiology.
2.     Surgical Anatomy, the Principles of Surgery, Operative Surgery.
3.     The Theory and Practice of Medicine. 
4.     Obstetricy.
5.     Materia Medica and Pharmacy. 
6.     Chemistry.
7.     Medical Jurisprudence.

That the first three divisions are essential to the army medical officer none can doubt. It was therefore required that in all these branches the attainments of the candidates should be unquestionably respectable. The fourth division, Obstetricy, refers to a class of patients not recognized by army regulations as within the specified duties of the surgeon. Yet universal usage, the dictates of humanity, a high sense of professional pride and duty concur to place the families of officers and soldiers in a moral relation to the army surgeon deeply interesting to them and him; binding him


to them as strongly as though that relation were of military obligation. Nothing can add to the interest which the good surgeon feels towards that class of persons: therefore Obstetricy becomes an important branch of practical medical science in the view of the Board. Of Materia Medica it suffices to say, that to be properly acquainted with surgery and practical medicine implies a suitable knowledge of the articles used in treating injuries and disease. Therefore examination was not so minute in this branch as in the preceding. The candidates were questioned almost exclusively on what is termed Medical Chemistry; and Medical Jurisprudence was referred to only as it practically involved the interests and fate of its subjects.

It will be hence seen, that if to some branches primary and essential importance be ascribed, from no recognized branch of practical medical science was due or relative consequence withheld. The relation, strictly maintained, was that of foundation and superstructure. *  *  *  *

The examinations were long and patiently conducted. Two sessions were allotted to every case except one, and part of three days were given to that case.

Every effort was made to render the examinations unembarassing. Perspicuity and precision were constantly studied; and in no instance was the candidate occasioned the least perplexity. It was well ascertained that the scope of every question was perfectly understood by the candidate. It was a leading feature in the examination that they were confined to subjects of practical importance. All speculative or abstract discussions were avoided.

It was stated to the candidates that in answering questions and in giving their opinions, they might refer to any respectable authority; and that the Board would highly regard inferences drawn from experience. Liberality on these points was not at all incompatible with an exercise of the critical judgment of the Board. The examinations were minute, because positive and particularly because relative merit could only be thereby duly developed.

Finally, the examinations were thus plainly, impartially, practically and deliberately conducted, that the candidate if rejected, might be convinced of his own incompetency. That this expectation was not unwarrantable is fully established by several cases."

The only general order issued during this year by the War Department which related to the Medical Staff, was the following alteration in paragraph 57 of the Army Regulations:

      March 19, 1834.


The following order has been received from the War Department:

'The assignment of surgeons and assistant surgeons to regiments and posts will be made by the Secretary of War. When the circumstances of the service will permit, those who shall have served three years in their respective grades shall have choice of stations agreeably to rank, on written application through the Surgeon General's Office stating the reasons therefor, but no one will be transferred from the post to which he may have been assigned for the purpose of making room for another.'


       R. JONES,
       Adjutant General."


The next army board met on the eighteenth of May, 1835, in New York city, and was composed of Surgeons Mower, Wheaton and Pitcher. There were eighteen candidates authorized to appear for examination, of whom seven were favorably reported on.

The long pending troubles with the Seminole Indians in Florida assumed the form of open war in December of this year. On the twenty-eighth of the month the Indians, led by the celebrated Osceola, attacked two companies of troops under command of Major Dade, fourth infantry, while on the march across the peninsula. But two soldiers escaped out of a strength of about one hundred and ten. Among the victims was Assistant Surgeon John S. Gatlin, a young man of great promise, who had entered the army at the head of his class but two or three years before. Troops were immediately hurried to the scene of hostilities from all parts of the country. A regiment of volunteers was raised in Louisiana by Colonel P. F. Smith, of which Surgeon Thomas Lawson was offered the Lieutenant Colonelcy. He accepted it, and in this rather anomalous capacity, rendered as efficient service as he had done for many years in his appropriate sphere. In May, 1836, the troops from the north destined for service in Florida and Alabama were concentrated at Fort Mitchell, Alabama, and Doctor Lawson (whose term of service as a volunteer officer had expired) was assigned to duty as Medical Director. A brigade of regular troops came from Louisiana and took the field, with Tampa as a base of supplies. Of this column General Gaines had the command and Assistant Surgeon H. L. Heiskell was chief medical officer, subordinate, however, to Surgeon Lawson. Assistant Surgeon Edward Worrell was ordered from New York in charge of a large quantity of medical stores, and a purveying depot established for their distribution, under charge of Assistant Surgeon George F. Turner. In August, 1836, a general hospital was organized at St. Augustine, which was placed in charge of Assistant Surgeon Joseph P. Russell. On account of the difficulties attendant on communication with the eastern side of the peninsula from head-quarters, Surgeon H. S. Hawkins was appointed Medical Director of the forces operating to the east of Lake O-kee-cho-bee. In consequence of the war the demand for medical officers was very great, and many posts in other sections of the country were deprived of regular medical attendance to meet the necessities of the troops in the field. Surgeon General Lovell addressed several reports to the Secretary of War, calling his attention to this deficiency in medical officers, and urging an addition of at least five surgeons and ten assistant surgeons to the Corps. Accordingly on the fourth of July, 1836, Congress passed an act of which the following is an extract:


"SECTION IV. And be it further enacted, That the President of the United States be, and he hereby is authorized and empowered to appoint three additional surgeons and five assistant surgeons to be attached to the Medical Staff of the army."

To fill these vacancies a medical board, consisting of Surgeon Pitcher and Assistant Surgeons Russell and Hawkins, was ordered to convene at Baltimore. Twenty-four candidates were authorized to appear for examination, of whom six were passed and eight rejected. These not being sufficient to fill the Corps to the maximum, another board met in New York city on the first of August. This was composed of Surgeon Mower and Assistant Surgeons Steinecke and Henderson, and examined thirty-four candidates, of whom but seven received a favorable report.

Almost the last official act of any importance performed by Surgeon General Lovell was his report of June 4, 1836, to the Secretary of War on the condition of the Medical Corps, and the necessity for its increase. Soon after his wife, a most estimable lady, to whom he was devotedly attached, died, and he never recovered from the effects of the blow. Naturally of a delicate constitution, his affliction utterly prostrated him, and he died, worn out by grief and anxiety, on the seventeenth of October. The National Intelligencer of Washington contained the following obituary notice a few days after his death:

"It rarely falls to our lot to record the death of one whose loss to the community and the profession, both military and civil, of which he was a distinguished member, is so deeply and widely spread as the untimely exit of Doctor Joseph Lovell, late Surgeon General of the army. Cut down in the prime of life, in the full career of great usefulness, he has left a void in society and in the military services of his country which but few who may follow can adequately fill. Doctor Lovell entered the army in 1812, on the declaration of war with Great Britain, as surgeon of the 9th regiment of U. S. Infantry. He served in the memorable campaigns on the Niagara frontier in 1813 and 1814. His patriotic devotion to the public service, and the faithful discharge of his official duties, soon distinguished him in the camp and in the field among his brother officers and in his profession. Promoted to the rank of Hospital Surgeon, he was eventually selected by President Monroe in 1818 to fill the important station of Surgeon General of the army, a post which his talents, medical skill and above all his great experience as a tried officer of the Medical Staff, eminently qualified him to fill with honor and great advantage to the public service. In his social duties, the domestic circle, and as father and husband-all the ties which bind the christian and the man to the obligations of the world-Doctor Lovell stood conspicuous. His bereaved family, eleven motherless and now fatherless children, who will attempt to depict their woe! Let other hands at a more appropriate season fill up the outline of the character and services of the lamented Lovell, now hastily and so briefly sketched.

Every mark of respect was paid to his mortal remains last evening at four o'clock, by his numerous friends, both officers and citizens. We also noticed the President's


family, the Heads of the Departments and Bureaux, and the principal officers of the government now at Washington. The pall-bearers were Major General Macomb, Brigadier General Jones, General Towson, Colonel Wainwright, Commodore Rogers, Commodore Morris, Colonel Twiggs, Major Cross. The clergy, medical faculty, and officers of the army, navy and marine corps present at the seat of government followed the relations of the deceased as mourners. We understand that it was the wish of several volunteer corps of the District to have participated in paying the highest military honors to the deceased if time and circumstances had permitted."

The greatness of the loss to the army, and especially to the Corps which he may almost be said to have brought into being, can hardly be exaggerated. He was one of those rare and lovely characters of whom it is no affectation to say that "the world was not worthy." One who had long been intimately connected with him, who watched by his bed and closed his dying eyes, said to the writer of these pages, that during a long life of eighty years he esteemed it his greatest privilege to have known and loved such a man. Throughout his official career he had gained the universal respect, admiration and affection of all with whom he was associated. His predominent characteristics were a strong sense of the dignity of his position and of the profession to which he belonged, and a gentleness of demeanor in all his relations both official and personal with the subordinate officers of the Medical Staff. The first was shown in his indignant remonstrance against the misrepresentations contained in the recommendation of the Secretary of War to abolish the office of Surgeon General; in his earnest efforts, continued through many years, for the passage of an act to increase the pay and improve the condition of the Medical Staff; and in his quick resentment of any imputation on the honor or integrity of any of its members. When the professional reputation of Assistant Surgeon Henderson was foully aspersed by the Chaplain at West Point, Doctor Lovell wrote a letter to the Secretary of War in his defence which could hardly be surpassed in its keenness of invective, the logic of its argument and its warm solicitude for the honor of the Corps which he represented. On another occasion, when a comparatively young officer endeavored by political influence to supplant Surgeon Mower in New York city, he denounced the attempt as an outrage on the Corps, subversive of all military discipline, and a grievous injustice to all those who had earned their right to choice stations by long and faithful service.

On the other hand, in his correspondence with the officers of his Department no one could be more gentle and even tender. When the necessities of the service obliged him to refuse an application for a leave of absence, he seemed to regret to have to communicate the unpleasant intelligence almost as much as the officer to receive it. In arranging the stations for officers, he used his


utmost endeavors to please everybody, and especially those who had large families to support; but if he at any time saw an inclination to take advantage of his kindness of disposition his indignation knew no bounds.

Nor was his good service confined to the Corps of which he was the official chief, but extended to every branch and department of the army. It was through his strenuous efforts, as evidenced in a number of able reports, that the whiskey ration, which was making drunkards of the entire army, was finally abolished; by his representations, that Congress passed the bill by which obnoxious officers were weeded out through the agency of boards of examination; and from his deep study of the subject, that the rations and the clothing of the soldier were improved, post hospitals built on a rational principle, and officers held to a rigid accountability for their treatment of the sick and the expenditure of supplies. In all his relations, whether as christian philanthropist, profound scholar, skilful surgeon, experienced officer or true-hearted gentleman, he was one of whom the Medical Staff may always be proud and the memory of whose good life is written on every page of its history.

In 1842 the officers of the Medical Corps testified their appreciation of his virtues by the erection of a handsome monument over his grave in the Congressional Cemetery at Washington.

Assistant Surgeon Benjamin King, who at the time of Doctor Lovell's death was on duty in Washington, succeeded to the office of Surgeon General, ad interim, the necessary presence of the senior surgeon in the field rendering it inadvisable that any appointment should be made immediately.

It does not come within the scope of this history to give in detail the events of the Florida war. A large proportion of the Medical Staff were kept on constant duty there for several years; duty of the most irksome character, in which great privations were to be endured, continual obstacles to be overcome and but little glory to be gained. That they maintained the already high reputation of the Corps for fidelity and efficiency may be inferred from the following extracts from official reports made at various times during the war. Colonel Fanning wrote after the battle near Fort Mellon, February 9, 1837: "Assistant Surgeon Laub dressed the wounded under the fire of the enemy. In fact I never saw the sick soldier more promptly or faithfully attended to, than since this detachment left Volusia." Colonel Zachary Taylor reported after the battle of O-kee-cho-bee, December 25, 1837: "The attention and ability displayed by Surgeon Satterlee, Medical Director on this side of the peninsula, assisted by Assistant Surgeons McLaren and Simpson of the Medical Staff of the army, and Doctors Hannah and Cooke of the Missouri Volunteers, in ministering to the wounded as well as their uniform kindness to


them on all occasions, can never cease to be referred to by me but with the most pleasing and grateful recollections." And again on the twentieth of July, 1839, he writes to the General-in-Chief; "Owing to the dispersed state of the troops the officers of the Medical Staff have been unusually occupied, having to visit several forts at some distance from each other; their duties have been performed with cheerfulness and ability."

The following is the report of Surgeon Satterlee concerning the battle of O-kee-cho-bee:

      5th January, 1838.


I have the honor to inform you that the brigade to which I am attached as Medical Director, has had a very severe engagement with the Mickasuckie and Seminole Indians about one hundred and fifty miles from this place near a lake called O-kee-cho-bee; it took place on the twenty-fifth ultimo and lasted nearly two hours, and resulted in the total defeat of the Indians, but with great loss to our troops in killed and wounded. Under the circumstances, as we had no permanent hospital nearer than this, and as the troops must from the nature of the country retire from it long before the wounded could recover, I deemed it proper to bring them immediately to this place. I arrived with them last evening, and have now the satisfaction to say that they are in comfortable quarters. I found the ambulances very serviceable, but as some of the wounded could not be transported in them on account of the roughness of the road, between thirty and forty of them were brought a part of the way on litters between two horses. This is a very comfortable means of transportation but difficult on account of the number of men and horses required. I have requested the quartermaster to have twenty litters constructed here, except the poles, which I think can be obtained in the woods. We were obliged to use blankets and raw hides of the cattle which we found on our way, but the length of time taken to construct them together with the want of proper tools, and at a time when the medical officers with me (Assistant Surgeons McLaren and Simpson) as well as myself were fully occupied night and day with the wounded, it was found very difficult to construct them; this is the reason why I wish them to be on hand and ready for any emergency that may occur. The wounded including volunteers amounted to one hundred and eleven, about seventy of which were regulars. These have been placed in hospital under the charge of Surgeon Wood and Assistant Surgeon Suter, and it is my intention to add one more assistant as soon as one comes, which I am anxiously looking for. The volunteers are established in hospitals by themselves under the care of their respective medical officers, all of course under the inspection of the senior medical officer of the regular army. * * * *

I have the honor to be, etc.,

      Surgeon, U. S. Army, 
       Medical Director south of Withlacoochie."

Meanwhile, the question of the succession to the vacant chair of Surgeon General was agitated in Washington. Very strong efforts were brought to bear upon the President to induce him to appoint a civilian to this position, and


various names were mentioned in connection therewith, none of them of any importance and all of whom have long since been forgotten. The army almost as a unit desired the appointment of Surgeon Thomas Lawson, who was the senior surgeon in the army; had seen long and faithful service, and was second to none in professional ability. Very many of the officers including all those of high rank united in petitions to General Jackson to appoint Doctor Lawson. The President for a time held the matter under advisement, during which Assistant Surgeon King continued acceptably to perform all the duties of the office. At length, on the thirtieth of November, 1836, Doctor Lawson received the appointment, to the great satisfaction of the Medical Corps, who had been extremely apprehensive that the great political influence which had been brought to bear would result in the appointment of some person from civil life.

It was not, however, until late in the spring of 1837 that he arrived in Washington, and being then detailed to accompany Ex-President Andrew Jackson to his home in Tennessee, and on the completion of this duty ordered by the War Department to organize a battalion of New York and Pennsylvania Volunteers for service in Florida, did not enter permanently on the duties of his office until the following year. Doctor Lawson was a native of Virginia, and first saw service as surgeon's mate in the navy in 1809. This position he resigned in 1811, to accept that of surgeon's mate of the sixth infantry, to which he was appointed on the twenty-eighth of January. He was promoted surgeon of the same regiment in May, 1813, and was highly distinguished for efficiency during the war with Great Britain. In the reduction of the army after the war he was retained as surgeon of the seventh infantry, and on the reorganization of the Corps in 1821 was transferred to the General Staff as the senior surgeon in the army. As Medical Director at New Orleans and subsequently of the Department of the South he had achieved a high reputation, while his long service on the frontier and in the field gave him a practical experience of the wants of the army and the department; of the greatest value in his new executive duties.

The army board which met in New York in May, 1837, was composed of Surgeons Mower and Hawkins and Assistant Surgeon Steinecke. Thirty applicants were invited to present themselves for examination, of whom fifteen appeared and five were found qualified. That for 1838, consisted of Surgeons Mower and Heiskell and Assistant Surgeon Henderson, and met in Washington city. Forty-three candidates were invited to appear, twenty-three were examined, and ten received a favorable report from the board. This last board was convened to fill the vacancies created by an act passed by Congress on the fifth


of July "To increase the present military establishment of the United States and for other purposes." This bill contained the following sections concerning the Medical Department:

"SECTION XXI.     And be it further enacted, That all letters and packages on public business, to and from the Commanding General, the Colonel of Ordnance, the Surgeon General, and the Head of the Topographical Corps shall be free from postage. *  *

SECTION XXIV.     And be it further enacted, That hereafter the officers of the Pay and Medical Departments of the army shall receive the pay and emoluments of officers of cavalry of the salve grades respectively, according to which they are now paid by existing laws. *  * 

SECTION XXXIII.     And be it farther enacted, That the President be, and he is hereby authorized, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint seven additional surgeons and that the officers whose appointment is authorized in this section shall receive the pay and allowances of officers of the same grades respectively."

This bill further provided, in consequence of urgent appeals from the Surgeon General on the subject, that hospital stewards at posts of more than four companies should have the pay and allowances of a sergeant of ordnance; at all other posts those of sergeant of infantry. It also included a section that all officers whether of the line or staff, exclusive of General officers, should receive one additional ration per diem for every five years service. There being some doubt as to the construction of this paragraph in relation to certain officers, a supplementary act was passed on the seventh of July, including the Paymaster General and Surgeon General in its provisions. 

Ever since the examination of candidates had been made an absolute prerequisite to appointment, the Secretary of War and the Surgeon General had been annoyed by complaints from rejected candidates that they had been unfairly treated in the decisions of the boards. Frequently political influence was brought to bear to induce the Department to reverse the action of the board, or to order a reexamination. In reference to one of these cases, where the circumstances were unusually aggravated and the unsuccessful applicant very pertinacious in his demands for redress, Surgeon General Lawson addressed the Secretary of War the following characteristic letter:

      12 August, 1837.


In reply to your question touching the nature of Dr. N--'s complaint, I have to say that from his communication I cannot exactly discern what he means or what he wants.

All that I can lean from his incoherent language is that the Army Medical Board and himself are at variance in opinion as to his talents and attainments, and that he has raised a complaint against the Board for not accepting his word and the negative testimony of his friends as evidence of his qualifications to practice physick and


surgery in the army of the United States. Dr. N-- has brought himself to believe that the letter of invitation to appear before the Medical Board is a letter of appointment; that the examination is a mere matter of form not at all calculated to affect the appointment; and that the Board has done violence to his rights as a citizen in withholding from him a passport into the army. Under this view of the subject he has conceived the idea of forcing his way into the army through the medium of political influence, and hence these threats of vengeance, this show of violence. Dr. N-- has however no cause of complaint nor ground upon which to base a charge against the Medical Board; and his murmurs can be silenced and himself strangled to death without an effort on our part. If faint praise can damn a man, he was completely cursed by those who pretended to recommend him to the consideration of the Department, and should not have been taken up as an accepted candidate for appointment to the Medical Staff of the army.

Dr. N-- has been twice examined and in both instances greatly failed, and from my own knowledge of him I am free to say, that he can never reach the lowest niche even on the standard of merit which has been reared by the Army Medical Board. 

All of which is respectfully submitted.

       TH. LAWSON,
       Surgeon General."

The resignation of Surgeon William Beaumont, who, by his scientific investigations, had reflected great credit on the Medical Department, was accepted on the thirty-first of December, 1839. He was a native of Maryland, and originally entered the service in 1813 as surgeon's mate of the sixteenth infantry. In 1814 he was transferred to the sixth infantry. He served throughout the war and was retained in the reduction of the army in 1815, but declined. In 1819 he reentered the service as post surgeon, was retained as assistant surgeon on the reorganization of the Corps in 1821, and was promoted surgeon November 26, 1827. In 1822, when stationed at Mackinac, Michigan Territory, he was called upon to attend the case of a young Canadian about eighteen years of age, named Alexis St. Martin, who by the accidental discharge of a musket loaded with duck-shot was severely wounded in the left side. The charge blew off the integuments and muscles for a space of several inches in circumference, "fracturing and carrying away the anterior half of the sixth rib, fracturing the fifth, lacerating the lower portion of the left lobe of the lungs, as well as the diaphragm on the left side and perforating the stomach." In the course of treatment the integuments and muscles sloughed away to a considerable extent, and eventually the sides of the wounded portion of the stomach adhered to the pleura costalis and the external opening, making a permanent gastric fistula, through which a free exit was afforded to the contents of the stomach. It was at first necessary to keep a compress and bandage over the wound to prevent this, but eventually a sort of valve was formed by a fold of the stomach which covered the aperture and 


prevented the escape of the food, while it did not interfere with an examination of the cavity. In 1825, the man having completely recovered his usual health, Doctor Beaumont commenced a series of experiments upon the nature of the gastric juice and the physiology of digestion, which were kept up at intervals until 1833, when he published the result in a work entitled "The Physiology of Digestion, or Experiments with the Gastric Juice." This work attracted great attention both at home and abroad; it was translated into German and French, and received appreciative notices from all the eminent physiologists of the day. Doctor Beaumont's opportunity was unparalleled, and he made use of it with great credit to himself and benefit to the profession at large.

Another severe loss sustained by the Department and the army during this year was in the death of Surgeon Richard Clark. He was in attendance on two posts in Middle Florida, when a malignant remittent fever broke out at Fort Roger Jones, and Assistant Surgeon McCormick, post surgeon at that station, being taken sick, he went to his relief, and died of the prevailing disease on the twenty-ninth of June. Surgeon R. C. Wood, Medical Director of the Army of the South said of him that "his professional attainments and uniform kindness and devotion to the sick commanded the respect and esteem of all." The Surgeon General, in his annual report to the Secretary of War, pays this tribute to his memory:

"The service in Florida to most of the medical officers employed there, has been indeed not only irksome, but exceedingly laborious and hazardous, many of them having from the very dispersed state of the troops, to give their attendance to two, three or more posts or stands; frequently passing from one station to another without an escort and occasionally under the fire of the enemy.

Among others whose lot it was to perform more than ordinary duty was the accomplished Surgeon Richard Clark, who in the height of his usefulness was lately cut off by disease. Doctor Clark having been called to a distant post where the whole command, officers and men, lay prostrate from disease, he at once gave all the energies of his mind and body to the assistance of his suffering comrades, and while thus engaged in administering by day and by night to the diseases and to the wants of the sick, he was inhaling the noxious vapors of the place, even to his own destruction. After rendering much assistance and indeed all the aid practicable, he himself sank to the ground and in a day or two afterwards yielded up his gallant spirit, a martyr to the calls of humanity and his country's good. For this very severe and perilous duty, this extraordinary devotion to their country's cause (this extra service being peculiar to themselves and not absolutely to be required of them) these officers are entitled to a full measure of praise, and I do not hesitate thus to express the high sense that I entertain of their public services and of their public worth."

The medical board which convened in New York city in 1839, consisted of Surgeons Mower, Finley and Tripler. Of thirty-six candidates invited to appear before the board twelve declined examination, two were excluded on


account of their age, eighteen were rejected, and only four recommended for appointment. As it was impossible for the medical officers stationed in Florida to proceed to New York to be examined for promotion, a board consisting of Surgeons Beaumont, Craig and Wood, with Steinecke as supernumerary, assembled for the purpose at Tampa, Florida, in November. They examined but one candidate for appointment, who received a favorable report.

This year the first volume of the "Army Medical Statistics" was prepared by Assistant Surgeon Samuel Forry, and issued under direction of the Surgeon General. It embraced statistics of the sickness and mortality in the army from 1819 to 1839, the medical topography and meteorology of the various posts, a report on the construction and condition of the various barracks and hospitals, and much other information of interest to the medical officer, chiefly in reference to prevailing diseases and their treatment.

The question came up before the Comptroller of the Treasury in March, 1840, of the employment and payment of hospital stewards to troops when serving in the field, and that official decided that under existing laws no stewards could be employed except at garrisons and permanent posts. As during the war in Florida hospital stewards were more needed for field service than in any other capacity, it became necessary to immediately amend the regulations so as to provide for their employment, and the following order was issued:

  March 28, 1840.


The services of hospital stewards with troops on a march being indispensable, authority is hereby given for the employment and payment of suitable persons to perform that duty with troops operating in the field. The compensation to stewards serving with a detachment consisting of more than four companies, will be the pay, clothing and rations of a sergeant of ordnance; and when serving with a smaller detachment of more than one company, it will be the pay, clothing and rations of a first sergeant of infantry. In the event of there being no person specially enlisted as hospital steward, the surgeon will, with the approbation of the commanding officer, appoint a suitable non-commissioned officer or private to perform that duty. 

       J. R. POINSETT, 
   Secretary of War."

In October, 1840, a new uniform was adopted for the Medical Department, as follows:


Coat-Dark blue cloth, double breasted; two rows of buttons, ten buttons in each row; the rows to commence at the collar and to run in right lines to the bottom of the lapels, four inches apart at the top, and two and a half inches at the bottom; the but tons in each row to be equidistant; standing collar and cuffs of black velvet; the


collar to meet with hooks and eyes, and to rise no higher than to permit the chin to turn freely over it; to be embroidered at each end with a gold laurel branch five inches long; the outer edges to be embroidered with a gold vine of laurel leaves.

The cuffs to be three inches deep, and to have a laurel branch and vine similar to that on the collar. The skirts to be made after the fashion of a citizen's coat lined with blue cloth, with a button at each hip, one at the end of each fold, and one intermediate in each fold.

Epaulettes-Gold, with solid bright crescent. The bullion of the Surgeon General will be half an inch in diameter and three and a half inches long; that of the surgeons, half an inch in diameter and three and a half inches long; that of assistant surgeons over five years [in service], one-fourth inch diameter and two and a half inches long; and of assistant surgeons under five years [in service], one-eighth inch diameter and two and a half inches long. Within the crescent a laurel wreath embroidered in gold, and the letters 'M. S.' in old English characters within the wreath. The straps to be gold lace for all the grades except the surgeons, which will be silver lace; the letters to be silver where the lace is gold, and gold where the lace is silver. A spread eagle of solid silver metal to be worn by the Surgeon General only, is to be placed upon the epaulette strap above the wreath.

Buttons-Gilt, convex, with spread eagle and stars, and plain border. 

Hat-Cocked, with black silk binding; fan on back part not more than eleven inches, nor less than nine inches; the front or cock not more than nine inches nor less than eight; each corner six inches; black button and black silk gimp loop, ornamented with a cockade and gilt spread eagle, tassels gold.

Plume-Black feathers. 

Cravat or Stock-Black silk.

Trousers-From the first of October to the thirtieth of April dark blue cloth with a black stripe down the outer seam one and a half inches wide; from the first of May to the thirtieth of September, plain white linen or cotton.

Boots-Ancle or Jefferson. 

Spurs-Yellow metal or gilt. 

Sword-Small sword and scabbard, according to pattern. 

Swordknot-Gold lace strap with gold bullion tassel. 

Waistbelt-Black patent leather, one and a half inches wide with slings and hooks. 

Plate-Gilt, having the letters 'U.S.' and a sprig of laurel on each side in silver.



Frock Coat-Dark blue cloth, single breasted, with stand up collar; regulation buttons; one row of eight buttons on the breast; lining black silk or blue cloth; pockets in the folds of the skirts, with one button at the hip and one at the end of each pocket, making only four buttons on the back and skirts of the coat; shoulder straps according to grade.

Cloak-Blue cloth, lined with blue. 

Forage Cap-According to pattern."

The board of officers which recommended the foregoing uniform, had at first given to medical officers an aiguilette, but no epaulettes. To this many of the medical officers very strongly objected that it made an uncalled for distinction between them and the officers of the other staff departments, and they requested


Surgeon General Lawson to appeal to the Secretary of War on the subject. This he declined to do, but he addressed a letter to the Adjutant General, which is given herewith, not only from its interest in connection with the Corps, but also because it forcibly illustrates the character of its chief:

      July 5, 1839. 


Doctor King informs me that you have expressed a wish that I should call with him on the Secretary of War, and speak to him on the subject of epaulettes for the Medical Staff.

As it is unusual for a subaltern officer to dictate to his chief, I have upon reflection come to the conclusion that it is better for me not to suggest anything to the Secretary in relation to a change of uniform.

I have been twenty-six and more years in the military service of my country, and very generally with troops on the frontiers and in the field.

I have been on the theatre of immediate action in every war in which the country has been engaged within my period of service, whether with a civilized or savage enemy, except that with Black Hawk, and then I volunteered my services for the field, but could not obtain permission to leave my station.

I have acted as quartermaster and as adjutant, and have been for months at a time, in command of a company of men in the regular army. I have also commanded a battalion and a regiment of men in the volunteer service, and have led them to the theatre of war; in the first instance under a commission from the executive of the state of Louisiana, and on the last occasion by the almost unanimous consent of the officers and men who served under my orders; and although my services have not been attended with such brilliant results as those of some other persons, my military career has certainly not been discreditable to myself, or altogether unprofitable to the government.

If under these circumstances the commanding general of the army could feel himself justified in putting me of with an aiguilette, a piece of tinsel on one shoulder, while he decorates every brevet second lieutenant with an epaulette on each shoulder, and the staff lieutenant with an aiguilette besides, I must be satisfied to remain without a military dress.

As I am a soldier in feeling and somewhat in practice too, I should be gratified with having the privileges of a military man in the way of dress even; but if I am never to wear an epaulette until I ask for it, my shoulders will never be decorated with that badge of distinction. All that I have to ask is, that I shall not be compelled to wear the prescribed uniform, a demi-military dress, alike unsuited to my taste and to my feelings, nor forced to follow in the train of a general officer, on gala days, or in procession. As a citizen with plain clothes on, I can command respect, and feel that I am respected; but to be brought in contact with military men, on certain occasions, with half a uniform on, and the only chief of a military bureau in the same predicament, I could not but be conscious of my inferiority, and must therefore beg leave to be saved from the necessity of experiencing such a state of mortification.

The subject of a new uniform was broached by me the other day, at the pressing instance of a number of the members of the Medical Staff; and as these officers are constantly present on duty with the soldiery, many of whom are not disposed to pay


homage to, or to yield prompt obedience to any person who does not wear the badge of military rank, the good of the service would seem to call for a respectful consideration of their application for a strictly military dress.

The rigid rules of military service having been already dispensed with in order to decorate the persons of platoon officers with two epaulettes, who before were entitled to one only, either on the right or on the left shoulder, there cannot be any great military impropriety in extending the indulgence to those staff officers, who, although they have not military rank proper, must in the regular discharge of their duties necessarily command, or have military control over non-commissioned officers and privates, and also over the commissioned officer when sick and in hospital.

Epaulettes would embellish the person, and thereby gratify the pride of these officers (whether foolish pride or not is immaterial to the question) without doing a jot of injury to the discipline of the army, or interfering at all with the rights or with the dignity of a single officer with military rank. And if these indispensable officers, and I am free to say, intelligent, zealous and efficient members of the Medical Corps (the surgeons and assistant surgeons) can be brought to set a higher value on their commissions, or to feel better satisfied with their condition in the army, at so small a cost as the privilege of wearing epaulettes, the indulgence surely should not be withheld.

    I am, very respectfully, etc.,

       Surgeon General.

    Assistant Adjutant General."

This remonstrance had the desired effect, and as has been shown, on the appearance of the regulations for the new uniform in the ensuing year, the coveted decoration was prescribed for medical as well as other officers of the army.

The medical board for this year, 1840, consisted of Surgeons Mower, Finley and Hawkins, and met in Philadelphia on the first of May. Nineteen candidates were examined, of whom nine were approved. That for the ensuing year was composed of Surgeons Mower, Finley and McDougall and met in the same place on the twenty-fifth of May. Twenty-six candidates were invited to appear before the board; of which number, twenty-two presented themselves, three voluntarily withdrew, three did not come within the prescribed regulations, fourteen were completely examined and six approved. In 1842 the board met as before in Philadelphia. The detail was Surgeons Mower and Steinecke and Assistant Surgeon J. M. Cuyler. Of seventeen candidates for appointment who were invited to present themselves before this board, ten were examined and only two found qualified.

The practical termination of the Florida war by the transfer of the larger portion of the Seminoles to the territory west of the Mississippi, rendered it unnecessary to maintain so large a military force as had been done for several years, and consequently on the twenty-third of August, 1842, Congress passed an act "Respecting the organization of the army and for other purposes." The


rank and file was reduced by diminishing the number of non-commissioned officers and soldiers to a company, while maintaining the former organization; in regard to the staff, reduction was accomplished by the discharge of officers whose services were no longer required. The fourth section of this act provided:

"That within one month after the passage of this act, the offices of one Inspector General, of three paymasters, two surgeons and ten assistant surgeons of the army shall be abolished, and that that number of paymasters, surgeons and assistant surgeons, shall be discharged by the President; and they shall be allowed three month's pay, in addition to the pay and emoluments to which they may be entitled at the time of their discharge."

Immediately after the passage of this act the following order was issued by the Secretary of War:

  August 26, 1842.

The fourth section of the act of Congress entitled 'An act for the reorganization of the army, and for other purposes,' approved August 23, 1842, provides that within one month after the passage of the act, the offices of three paymasters, two surgeons and ten assistant surgeons shall be abolished, and that number of paymasters, surgeons and assistant surgeons shall be discharged by the President. The remote distance of many of the officers, renders it necessary that the persons to be disbanded, should be designated as soon as practicable, that they may not be embarrassed in rendering their accounts for services beyond the time prescribed by the act.

The difficulty of discharging the duty thus enjoined by law, has been anxiously felt. Many meritorious officers must necessarily be laid aside, not from any demerit of their own, but simply because the public no longer requires their services. As a guide in the performance of that duty, authentic information has been collected from official sources, and an impartial judgment formed without reference to any other considerations than such as regarded the best interests of the service. And in the designation of those whose lot it is to retire, it is to be distinctly understood that nothing is to be inferred derogatory to their fame or worth.

The President therefore directs that the following named officers be disbanded, and honorably discharged from the army of the United States from and after the twenty-third day of September next, when they will receive the three month's additional pay provided by the act, viz:

*     *     *     *     P. Maxwell, surgeon, there being now one vacancy in the office of surgeon.

Edward Worrell, John Emerson, L. A. Birdsall, S. R. Arnold, W. T. Leonard, B. W. Woods, C. W. Stearns, Dabney Herndon, George Buist, Charles C. Keeney, assistant surgeons in the army.

The disbanded paymasters, surgeons and assistant surgeons may consider themselves as having leaves of absence as soon as they can be relieved, for which prompt measures will be taken by the proper Departments of the Staff.

*  *  *   *   * *

      Secretary of War."


The question of the relative status of medical officers when serving with officers of the line came up for decision about this time, on an application made by Assistant Surgeon Edward Worrell at Fort Niagara, New York, for information as to his position when detailed to serve on a council of administration with junior officers of the line. The line claimed that medical officers having no actual rank could not preside over such councils, as that involved the exercise of military command, to which they were forbidden by law, and on at least one occasion a junior line officer refused to take his seat unless the regulation was construed to meet this interpretation. Doctor Worrell and other medical officers demurred to this construction of the law, and appealed to the Surgeon General. Doctor Lawson being absent from Washington at the time on special duty, Surgeon Heiskell, who was in temporary charge of the Surgeon General's Office, advised Doctor Worrell to acquiesce in the view taken by the line officers as being productive of the harmony and friendly relations which should exist between the different branches of the service. Subsequently to the writing of this letter, the Revised Army Regulations for 1840 were issued, and among other changes was a paragraph which expressly denied the right of any staff officer to preside over a board of survey or council of administration, though they were still liable to detail as members of such bodies. This caused indignant protests from the army medical board then in session, from a number of the older and most esteemed medical officers and even from some officers of the line, and Surgeon Heiskell placed all these papers before the Secretary of War, accompanied by the following vigorous appeal for the rights of the officers: 

  November 4, 1841.


SIR: In respectfully inviting your attention to the enclosed papers numbered from one to six inclusive, I beg leave to submit a few explanatory remarks.

Section 2 of the act of Congress 'To increase and regulate the pay of the surgeons and assistant surgeons of the army,' approved June 30, 1834, provides that surgeons 'shall be entitled to receive the pay and emoluments of a major, assistant surgeons who shall have served five years the pay and emoluments of a captain, and those who shall have served less than five years the pay and emoluments of a first lieutenant.' 

The army regulations which were published the succeeding year (1835), in reference to the Medical Staff (and other staff officers without military rank) adopted precisely the same scale of assimilated rank, classifying surgeons with majors, assistant surgeons of five years [service] with captains, &c., and permitting them to 'take their places on boards and councils according to [that] classification.' This regulation having the legislation of Congress evidently for its basis, and alike due to justice and the well earned character of the Medical Staff, has been set aside in the army regulations of the present year, and another substituted, which is calculated to degrade them in their own eyes, as well as in the opinion of the whole army.


The objectionable regulation to which I allude, is contained in the latter clause of paragraph 5, article II, which specifies that 'Staff officers of the army not having military rank, shall in no case be appointed or sit as president of a mixed board or council, or exercise any military authority or command whatever over commissioned officers invested with military rank, and the senior officer of the board or council of the latter class shall preside.'

By the operation of this regulation, medical officers who number from twenty-five to thirty-five years of faithful service, are compelled to yield precedence on boards or councils to the favoured officer 'invested with military rank,' who cannot reckon as many years of his whole life-who was not even born-or if he had existence, was perhaps puling in his nurse's arms while the war-worn surgeon was mingling in the strife of battle and rendering assistance to the bleeding soldier. This is no fancy sketch; it is a picture of painful, mortifying truth; depicting the medical officer as unworthy of occupying any other than an humble and subordinate position.

The laws and regulations entitle the surgeon to all the pay and allowances of a major; in the selection of quarters he has choice with him (and of course before all others of an inferior grade); he is allowed the same number of tents, rooms, servants and horses; the same badges of rank; and yet, on a board or council, he is required and liable, to sit below the youngest brevet second lieutenant in the army.

Having I trust shown the injustice of the regulation, I beg leave now to exhibit a few of its absurdities.

At a post where a common superior to a surgeon and a major can be detailed, and the surgeon is of older date than the latter, he is permitted to take his place on a board or council next to the President, and of course above the major. If from any cause the post should the very next day be left in command of a captain (who would not be eligible), with two lieutenants, the surgeon would be placed below one of the lieutenants; and if there was but one lieutenant, and that one the youngest in the army, the surgeon would still occupy the inferior place; exhibiting the incongruous phasis of passing within twenty-four hours, from a position above that of a major, to one below a second lieutenant! But the inconsistency does not end here; paragraph 170, new regulations, prescribes that 'the junior member [shall] act as secretary.' Who is the junior member-the presiding lieutenant or the surgeon of thirty-five years service? The term junior is not to be found in the military lexicons; but Johnson defines it as 'one younger than another.' It will hardly be contended that the surgeon is younger in service than the lieutenant; if not it must be the latter; and the singular anomaly is presented of the president and secretary being united in the same person!

But it is contended by those who are opposed to the claim of the Medical Staff, that the right to preside on boards and councils, implies the right to command. As there is more plausibility than truth in this assertion, a brief examination of the question is necessary. *  *  *  *

It would be difficult for the most ingenious hair-splitter to detect anything of a military character in the duties of boards and councils; and if they are not military but as we contend purely administrative, can the authority of the president of such a council be construed to imply 'military command?' But what is the momentous authority of the president of a council which would so wound the sensibilities of some, if exercised by an officer 'without military rank?' As the army regulations do not enlighten us on this point, we must seek for an answer in the practice of the service in such cases. It is no more nor less than to preserve order! In common with the 


other members he votes when they vote, and can only adjourn the council when a majority so decides; and with the secretary, sign the proceedings for the approval or disapproval of the commanding officer.

But whether this authority is military or not, it may be questioned, from an analogous case, whether it is not a violation of the rights of the officers of the Medical Staff, to disqualify them by regulation from the exercise of functions which the law clearly concedes to them. The 64th article of war (see army regulations) prescribes that 'general courts-martial may consist of any number of commissioned officers from five to thirteen inclusively; but they shall not consist of less than thirteen where that number can be convened without manifest injury to the service.' As the medical officer is 'commissioned,' and holds his commission by precisely the same tenure as any other officer, it will not be denied that he is eligible to a seat on a court-martial; and if detailed as a member, that he cannot be deprived of the right-his commission being of an older date than the others-to take his seat as the president of the court. If the position here assumed is correct-as I humbly conceive it is-it may then be demanded, on what just ground are medical officers disqualified from presiding on boards and councils?

In conclusion and in behalf of the Medical Staff of the army, I appeal to you for a careful investigation of this subject-a subject which may appear to you to involve matter of small moment, but deeply affecting the feelings and just pride of a class of officers, whose services, general intelligence and professional merit, entitle them to hope for a more just appreciation of their deserts than the degrading regulation awards to them.

        I have the Honor to be, etc.,

       H. L. HEISKELL,
   Acting Surgeon General."

Nor did the matter rest here, for the Surgeon General issued a circular to all the officers of the Medical Corps inviting them to give their views on the subject, and during the next three years many able papers were received at the Surgeon General's Office in reference thereto. Some of the more distinguished members of the Corps, notably Surgeons Mower, Tripler and Heiskell thought that the only remedy would be a law giving positive rank to medical officers, which indeed they claimed was intended by the act of June 30, 1834; and plans of enactments were drawn up by them for the action of Congress and a strong effort made to interest individual members in the subject, but it was not for a number of years afterwards that the object in view was finally accomplished.

A letter of Surgeon General Lawson on the proper distribution of the hospital fund, which was written to the Medical Purveyor in Florida in the spring of this year, (1841,) contains some points of sufficient interest to deserve quotation, as the same question is likely to be a source of anxiety to medical officers whenever a large fund accumulates from certain troops, who are afterwards removed from the locality without deriving any benefit from the saving. It will be seen that General Lawson took the very proper ground that a hospital


fund once formed could not be reserved for any particular regiment or corps, but became the property of the Medical Department for the general benefit of the army.

May 24, 1841.

        SURGEON, U. S. A.

Sir: Your letter of the twenty-seventh of April reporting that you had received $2,951.37 of hospital fund, and requesting to be informed whether or not the money is to be appropriated to the exclusive benefit of those regiments with whom the fund was accumulated, has been received.

In reply to your communication I have to say that the very circumstances of having the money accruing from the retained rations of the sick, withdrawn from the assistant commissaries of subsistence at the various posts and with the different corps, and concentrated in the hands of one or two acting medical purveyors, shows that it is to constitute a general fund with which to purchase supplies for the sick of the army without regard to companies or corps, who cannot be otherwise provided with the necessaries of life.

The money accruing from the retained rations of the sick in hospital does not belong to the individuals whose rations are retained, or to the company or regiment to which they belong. The fund can accrue only by the soldiers being taken into the hospital and subsisted on the hospital stores of the government, and the accumulation is greatest, and is great only at those places where the commissariat fails to furnish the necessary articles of diet for the sick.

Under the regular system of supplying provisions to the soldiers of the army, the sick men in hospital are subsisted by the Subsistence and the Medical Departments conjointly. Should the man in hospital be unable to eat his bread and pork, and the commissary cannot furnish in lieu thereof, fowls, mutton, eggs, milk, butter or anything else that the sick man requires, the patient must necessarily be subsisted on the barley, sago, chocolate, tea, wine, brandy, &c., &c., in the hospital; and thus the medical stores which were intended for a six or twelve month's supply to the troops, are frequently exhausted in half the time contemplated. If then the sick soldier lives entirely upon the hospital, instead of being subsisted by the Medical and Subsistence departments conjointly, and thus causes an extraordinary consumption of hospital stores, and the consequent necessity of renewing the supply again and again at the expense of the Medical Department alone, what better disposition can be made of the commutation allowance for the retained rations than giving it to that appropriation from which the extraordinary supplies have been drawn.

The idea that the pork and beans of a sick soldier, withheld from him because it would be injurious to him to eat them, if not immediately commuted for mutton, eggs, etc., and given to him, must be held, or the equivalent for it, forever afterwards for his special benefit, is so preposterous that I cannot with any sort of patience argue upon the subject. Has not the sick man if he can swallow at all already gotten from the government his commutation allowance, or the equivalent for his ration, in brandy, sago, tea, chocolate or wine? Can he, when he is sick and doing nothing, claim of the government full rations and hospital stores to boot? Is it not competent for the Executive of the Nation to alter or reduce the soldier's ration at will? And if he chooses by regulation to authorize the medical officer to abridge or withhold the ration


altogether when necessary, is there any violence done to the man's rights? The ration of the sick soldier can be withheld from him whenever it is essential to his safety, or the treatment of his disease; and if the pay, as well as the rations of the officers and privates both, could be held back when they are on the sick report, there would not be so many people wandering over the country with sick certificates in their pockets.

Again, many of the men whose rations contributed to make up the hospital fund turned over to you, have died or have long since been discharged the service; shall their portion of the fund be given to members of the corps to the third and fourth generation? The fund for instance called the Third Regiment Hospital Fund, was I believe in part accumulated with the seventh infantry while I was with it at Fort Jesup eighteen and more years ago; and are the present members of the third infantry, some of them then unborn, and all of them as to their term of enlistment in the third or fourth degree removed from the original contributors, more legitimate heirs to the estate than the government who supported the men at the time? In whatever light we view this question, the claim of the government to the hospital fund is so apparent that I can scarcely bring myself to believe that any man can seriously entertain a doubt upon the subject. The money in your hands then, is a public fund, to be disbursed for the benefit of the government. It is intended to meet those extraordinary drafts upon the medical appropriations through the medium of special requisitions upon the Quartermaster's Department. And it must be disbursed in the purchase of necessaries for those sick who cannot be otherwise supplied with the essentials of life, more particularly at those posts where the hospital fund accruing for the time being is not available.

   Very respectfully, etc.,
   Surgeon General."

The regular annual meeting of the medical examining board for 1843 took place in New York city on the first of July. The detail was Surgeons Mower, Steinecke and Tripler, members, Assistant Surgeon J. J. B. Wright, recorder. A regulation was issued by the War Department, to take effect from the meeting of this board, that if no vacancy occurred in the Medical Staff for the space of two years from the time of the examination of any approved candidate, such examination should be considered null and void, and the candidate be required to undergo a further examination before appointment. This regulation was deemed necessary on account of the great changes which two years might produce in the physical as well as the professional qualifications of a candidate for appointment. Fourteen applicants presented themselves before this board; of these, one was found physically disqualified to perform the duties of a medical officer, three withdrew before their examination was completed, six were rejected and four passed a satisfactory examination. Of those approved, two, George Buist and Charles C. Keeney, had been previously commissioned in the Corps, but were disbanded on the reduction of the army in 1842.

The following decision of the General-in-Chief relative to the proper salutes to be paid to medical officers was issued in consequence of numerous


complaints from those officers that they were not honored by sentinels in accordance with their rank:

Washington, August 3, 1843. 

SIR: Surgeon Foot's letter of the twenty-third ult., relative to the proper salute to be paid by a sentinel on post to the surgeons of the army, referred by you to this office, has been laid before the General-in-Chief and duly considered.

The like question heretofore submitted to the General-in-Chief has been decided as follows:-Surgeons are by regulations classed with majors in regard to certain matters of allowance as quarters, &c., and they are entitled to precedency as such in mixed boards; but not having the military 'rank' of 'field officers,' they are not entitled to the salute prescribed for majors.

        I am, sir, very respectfully, 
   Your obedient servant,

        U. S. Army. Adjutant General."

The Surgeon General having at the same time requested an opinion relative to certain points pertaining to the purely military duties of medical officers, the following decision was rendered by the General-in-Chief:

      Washington, August 4, 1843.


Your letter of the twenty-ninth of July renewing the inquiry found in your communication of the sixth of April, agreeably to your request has been duly considered and laid before the commanding general.

I quote from your letter:

'1st.     Whether the position of the medical officer on parades for muster and inspection, reviews or other dress parades, at posts garrisoned by one company only, is the same as with a battalion of men, and if not, where is his position?

2nd.     Whether it is required, or has been customary for the medical officer to appear in full dress, and on parade with the company, at the punishment of prisoners; and if so, where would be his position on the occasion?' 

Answer to the first question: The position of staff officers including the surgeon and assistant in the order of battle, parades, reviews in line and column, is relatively the same, whether the command be a battalion or consist of a single company. [See infantry tactics vol. 1, plate 1, and paragraph 44; see also nos. 615 and 621 army regulations.]

Answer to the second question: No matter what the occasion may be, if the troops be under arms in uniform, it would be with the commander to decide whether the officers (including the surgeon) be excused from appearing in full dress; but in witnessing punishments I think the medical officer ought to be excused, because his professional services might be necessary. As respects his 'position,' when with the troops under arms to attend the punishment of a prisoner, if not in his fixed position as pointed out by the regulations, he should take his station near the prisoner, with the view to his professional observation and services or advice, should he deem it necessary. 

       I am, sir, very respectfully, etc.,
       R. JONES,
      Adjutant General."


The medical examining board for 1844 met in New York city on the first of July. The detail was Surgeons Mower and Steinecke and Assistant Surgeon Hitchcock. Eleven candidates were authorized to present themselves for examination. Of these, seven were examined and three approved. That for 1845 examined eleven applicants, of whom nine were rejected and two favorably reported on. The detail was the same as before, substituting Assistant Surgeon Henderson for Doctor Hitchcock.

In May, 1845, the propriety of a medical officer's engaging in private practice was brought to the notice of the Department for decision, in consequence of protests forwarded by private physicians at Sackett's Harbor, New York, against the practice on the part of the post surgeon at Madison Barracks of attending to patients in that village; alleging that he, (the post surgeon) came into injurious competition with them. These protests were replied to by the Surgeon General as follows:

  June 4, 1845.


Your communication (without date) to the Secretary of War, representing that Doctor Foot, the surgeon stationed at Madison Barracks, and Mr. Veits the hospital steward of the post, come in 'competition' with you in the practice of the adjacent village and country, and asking for the interposition of the Department of War in the matter, has been referred to this office.

Whether, by your expression, I putting themselves in competition' with you, you mean to convey anything more than that they comply with the applications of those who desire their professional aid, is not clearly understood. If neither a breach of professional etiquette, nor any improper means to obtain professional employment is charged against them, it is not perceived that this Department can with propriety interfere in the matter. In the absence of reasons such as have just been stated, the only other, and indeed the principal circumstance that would seem to call for the restraint of authority in the present case would be, that they neglect or have neglected their official duties by engaging in private practice. This you have not alleged; and as no report has been made upon the subject by their commanding officer, it is to be presumed there is no cause of complaint on that score. Indeed the elevated character and fidelity of the officers of the Medical Staff afford satisfactory guaranties that this will seldom, if ever occur. If however, they should so far forget what is due to the government and expected of themselves, as to engage in private practice to the neglect of the officers and soldiers who are dependent on them for medical aid, they can be readily checked by their immediate military commander; and if they should persist in this dereliction of public duty, they can promptly be brought to trial before a military tribunal.

When therefore, it does not interfere with their military duties, medical officers have a right to give their professional advice, &c., to whomsoever they please, and they have always been permitted to do so with a view to their professional advancement. Indeed at military posts occupied by a small number of troops, and where of course the subjects of disease are few in number, and the complaints of these few


present but little variety of character, it is rather desirable than otherwise that the army physician should extend his sphere of action to the citizens immediately around him, so as to become familiar with disease under all circumstances, the maladies prevailing through the country and among the citizens generally, as well as the diseases peculiar to the soldier, or to military life in camp or garrison. To deprive the army surgeon of any reasonable opportunity of practical advancement in his profession, would surely be inflicting an injury upon the service generally, and especially upon those who have to depend upon him for professional aid.

Again, while this Department in its reply to your communication desires to confine itself strictly to official considerations, or such as affect the public service merely, it may not be out of place incidentally to state, that to prohibit a medical officer (when his public duties will permit) from extending relief to those of his fellow citizens who may apply for his services-having confidence in his professional attainments-would be as ungracious to them as it would be devoid of the common dictates of humanity; and might afford as just and perhaps a better cause for complaint on the part of the neighboring community than the one alleged by yourselves, which relates exclusively to private interests.

In reply to your proposition that you may be permitted to come into competition with them (the surgeon and steward) inside 'the garrison,' and 'the amount of our [your] services to be deducted from their pay,' I beg leave to say that as there are generally a number of persons at a military garrison, who receive the professional services of the surgeon only by right of courtesy (which has always however been regarded as obligatory), they are entirely at liberty if they think proper to employ you; and as far as the discipline of the service will permit and my jurisdiction extends, I can offer no objections to their so doing; but as the pay of the surgeon and steward is fixed by law, it, is not competent for the Department to order you to be paid for your services in the manner you propose.

Very respectfully, etc.,

      H. L. HEISKELL.
  Acting Surgeon General."

The threatening aspect of affairs rendering a war with Mexico not an improbable occurrence, in August, 1845, a large body of troops was concentrated at Corpus Christi, Texas. This was placed under command of General Z. Taylor, and was entitled the "Army of Occupation." In anticipation of this movement the Medical Purveyor at New York was, in June, instructed to forward a years supply for fifteen hundred men to New Orleans, to be subject to General Taylor's orders, and an additional quantity was forwarded to Corpus Christi in August. Assistant Surgeon McCormick was also detailed to purchase in New Orleans such supplies for immediate use as might be needed by the troops en route to Texas. The troops thus constituting the "Army of Occupation," were the second dragoons, the third, fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth regiments of infantry, and portions of the first, second and fourth regiment of artillery. Surgeon Presley H. Craig was appointed Medical Director and Surgeon W. L. Wharton, Medical Purveyor to the army. This latter officer was subsequently relieved on account of ill health and was succeeded by


Assistant Surgeon James Simons. A general hospital was established, which was placed in charge of Surgeon N. S. Jarvis. The following medical officers were in charge of the various regimental hospitals, viz: third infantry, Assistant Surgeon J. B. Porter; fourth infantry, Assistant Surgeon Madison Mills; fifth infantry, Surgeon R. C. Wood; seventh infantry, Assistant Surgeon H. E. Cruttenden; eighth infantry, Surgeon J. J. B. Wright; second dragoons, Assistant Surgeon L. C. McPhail; battalion artillery, Surgeon H. S. Hawkins; battalion field artillery, Assistant Surgeon John B. Wells. In addition to these the following medical officers were either attached to the general hospital or to the various regiments: Assistant Surgeons Moore, Byrne, Conrad, DeLeon, Steiner, Kennedy, Buist, J. W. Russell, Glen and Levely. In March, 1846, the army was transferred from Corpus Christi to Brazos Santiago. The sick that were unable to be transported were left behind in general hospital, which was then placed in charge of Surgeon H. S. Hawkins, with Assistant Surgeon William Roberts as his assistant,, and removed to St. Joseph's Island near Aransas Pass. Surgeon Jarvis, who had been in charge of the general hospital, was assigned to the third infantry, and accompanied it on the march to the Rio Grande. Assistant Surgeon Porter was transferred in consequence from the third infantry to the battalion of artillery. Assistant Surgeon J. R. Conrad relieved Assistant Surgeon McPhail in charge of the second dragoons, and the latter officer was assigned to the seventh infantry. Assistant Surgeon Byrne remained with a detachment of troops guarding stores at St. Joseph's Island. Such was the distribution of medical officers in the camp opposite Matamoras, when on the sixth of May, 1846, the bombardment of our works at that point (afterwards known as Fort Brown) precipitated the conflict which had long been felt to be inevitable, and for the third time in its history the country entered on a foreign war. The consideration of the services rendered by the Medical Staff in the campaigns which followed will appropriately form the subject of a separate chapter.