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Report of Lieut. Col. Henry Lippincott, Deputy Surgeon-General, U.S. Army, on the Condition of Medical Affairs in the Philippine Expeditionary Commands

Spanish - American War



Dated Manila, Philippine Islands, August 31, 1898

In my communication of the 27th ultimo, I had the honor to inform you that the health of this command was fairly good. This may still be said 1oobtainibut the sick list is larger than it would be were our men better situated in a sanitary way. There is a great tendency to stomachic and intestinal disorders, dysentery being common, but malarial fever is also of frequent occurrence and many of the diseases common to the United States are also observed. These will appear on the monthly reports and are merely referred to here. The total number of deaths from disease and accidents since first fleet left San Francisco is 29, distributed as follows: Typhoid fever, 14; septicaemia, 1; paralysis, 1; broncho-pneumonia, 1; pneumonia 2; dysentery, 2; meningitis, 2; cerebro-spinal meningitis, 1; heart rheumatism, 1; heat exhaustion, 1; endorcarditis, 1; appendicitis, 1; morphine poison (suicide), 1.


Regarding reports, I have to state that the surgeons have had much to contend with in rendering them. Some of them, I regret to say, have been unavoidably long in reaching your office. I can assure the Surgeon-General, however, that we have not only had incessant storms to contend with, but transportation between the transports and Cavite and the transports and Camp Dewey has been most difficult and dangerous. The bay of Manila is practically an open sea and we have had to land supplies and patients through the surf, contending with high winds and almost constant rains. Life has frequently been endangered and property has been lost or ruined. With all this the medical department has performed its duties cheerfully and efficiently. The headquarters are now here where I opened my office on the 17th instant, and trust soon to be able to have the medical officers instructed in the preparation of the various reports, etc. At San Francisco there was no time for systematic instruction, although much was done in that direction. On my arrival there I began at once to complete the organization of the medical department for these forces, steps having already been instituted in that direction by Lieutenant-Colonel Middleton and Surgeon H. H. White, United States Army.

I found that a number of men had been enlisted for the Hospital Corps, but, perceiving that many more would be required, I recommended continued enlistments, and, in addition, the transfer of the volunteer regimental hospital corps to the regular establishment, which was ordered. Many excellent men were thus secured, and I was thereby enabled to furnish a sufficient number of privates for duty in the division hospital in Camp Merritt and for attendance upon the sick in the transports. Each full regiment of volunteers has 3 hospital stewards, so that the allowance of hospital stewards of the United States Army for the corps is limited to 10. The allowance of medical officers has been about sufficient thus far, but the employment of a few more contracts will probably be necessary.

While in San Francisco I made every effort to secure ample medical and hospital supplies, and was successful to a great degree. The medical purveyor, Colonel Middleton, did everything in his power for us, and issued many articles not usually supplied for field service. Many necessary articles for the sick on the transports were furnished. Brigade supplies were put on board certain ships, and everything was done that could reasonably be done to make the voyage successful. Of course a few things ran short, but, taking all together, I can say the troops were supplied with all essentials on the way here.

On the ocean I prepared a circular for the guidance of medical officers, and several typewritten copies bearing the approval of the commanding general were issued before the attack on Manila. This circular is chiefly a compilation from existing orders, regulations, etc., and will be printed as soon as possible and a copy forwarded to your office. A knowledge of its contents aided the surgeons during the attack, and here I desire to say that the Medical Department was all that the Surgeon-General could wish, and the conditions were most trying. The ambulance company was commanded by Captain Keefer, of the Army. He had a number of excellent medical officers with him and they, one and all, together with the enlisted men of the company, did fine work during the advance on Manila.

The hospitals (two brigade, under Surgeons Crosby and Penrose) were in excellent working order, hut were not moved forward, the distance from Camp Dewey to Manila being only about 4 miles. Major Crosby, brigade surgeon, was and is chief operator for the second brigade, and Major Fitzgerald, Thirteenth Minnesota, was and is chief operator for the first brigade. These officers were assisted by Major Kemble, of the First Colorado; Asst. Surg. Paul F. Straub, United States Army; Asst. Surg. N. M. Black, First North Dakota Volunteers; Asst. Surg. J. M. Cabell, United States Army (retired), and Acting Asst. Surg. G. W. Daywalt, United States Army.

The number of killed during the attack on Manila was 4; wounded, 4 officers and 41 enlisted men. These were all brought back to camp quickly, although the means of transportation were very imperfect, viz, the two-wheeled carameta of the country carrying our litters, and by the Hospital Corps men with regulation litters. Ambulances could not have been used even if on hand, because of the nature of the ground and obstructions. I desire here to say that our department received great credit for its preparation, and for the manner in which it met the many difficulties of the day. It should be stated that every wounded man was dressed and comfortably in bed by 7 o'clock p. m. on the day of the attack. I have also to add that the wounded are all doing very well and that no amputation of any kind has been made, notwithstanding the fact that we have had severe wounds complicated with fracture of the limbs.

While the volunteer surgeons lack knowledge of reports, etc., the Surgeon-General may well be proud of their field and hospital work.


In the matter of supplies, I must say that the field supply table is not entirely satisfactory, considering the distance from our base. However, I have great reason to be thankful that it was not adhered to. Our supplies now arriving and on the way will serve for some time, especially as we doubtless will soon have some money available should emergencies require purchase. Before the battle of August 13, fearing the possible necessity for more dressings than we had on hand, I purchased some material, for which vouchers will be handed the purveyor on his arrival.

We are still using several buildings in Cavite for hospital purposes. These are all absolutely unsuitable in every way, making no pretensions to sanitary fitness, hut are the best we could obtain. It will be necessary to continue their use for some time, because troops will remain in the town for a while longer. The brigade hospitals were removed from Camp Dewey to the Spanish military hospital, this city, August 17, and there combined to form a division hospital, August 20, for administration purposes. This establishment was erected by the Spaniards and used by them as a general hospital. It is quite large and in fair repair. It has room for at least 400 beds, and at this date 288 beds are occupied. Prior to placing the patients in the wards the surgeons took great pains to have the woodwork cleansed and disinfected. It is probable that some of the patients will be transferred from Cavite to this hospital.

The ice machine is being put up in Cavite under the direction of Surgeon Woodruff. It will be of the greatest value when working, which is likely to he soon. The drinking water is insufficient and limited to the rainfall.

The Spaniards have given little attention to sanitary matters, so that coming from our country to this, one is reminded of the advantages our people have in the United States.

I am getting the supplies from the ships and from other sources, but it is proper to add that unavoidable events, etc., as referred to above, have thus far made storing and segregation of property absolutely impossible. Now, however, affairs are taking shape and we will soon be in good working order. I understand we are to have a hospital ship (the Scandia). This will be most acceptable, for the time will surely come when such a vessel will be necessary.

I wish to mention the fact that we have used the Hunt ovens in the field hospitals and found them useful. I had a large number supplied by the Quartermaster's Department before leaving San Francisco. I desire also to refer to our supply of hospital tents received in the same city. The Quartermaster's Department did well for us, and I have every reason to be grateful to them. The inexperience of the Hospital Corps has been somewhat of an inconvenience; still, on the whole, the corps has done good work, and I have already expressed myself in regard to the ambulance company. The surgeons have taken great pains to procure suitable nourishment, ice, and other necessaries for the wounded and sick as well; these have greatly contributed to the present good condition of the former, and have been equally beneficial to the latter.

About 15,000 points of vaccine virus were issued to the surgeons in Camp Merritt prior to the 29th of June. These points were nearly used before the troops embarked.

On our arrival at Honolulu I, under orders from General Merritt, examined into the propriety of establishing a hospital there for our sick. This was deemed necessary for the reason that almost all of the transports were obliged to leave one or more sick in that city. A building was selected, and recommendations for medical officers, attendants, supplies, etc., made.

The troops are all quartered in buildings now; some are well housed, others are not. It is difficult to restrain men from eating and drinking unwholesome articles, and these with the great heat have increased the sick list recently. Efforts are being made to correct errors, and I expect good results. The number of patients in hospital in Cavite to-day is 71; this I neglected to enter under the proper heading. We now have a launch and a well-equipped ambulance company, and are able to remove the sick from place to place about the harbor. I have now to refer to the beds and bedding for the sick of this command. We have been able to gather a good many formerly used by the Spaniards. These, though imperfect, in many instances have been a great help.

I have just called attention to the danger of unwholesome articles of food and drink, and expect to see the sick list decline by the enforcement of sanitary recommendations.

It is proper that I should refer to the Spanish sick. They have very many, and from what I can learn I do not think they fare much better here now than they did on arrival; but they do not consider sanitary requirements as our people do, and hence have a much larger list. Their sick are well supplied with essentials,


and I understand they are doing fairly well, although the number is very large, about 1,400 in hospitals in all.

I now inclose lists of wounded, an analysis of which shows that there were-


Officers         None
Enlisted men     11


Officers            12
Enlisted men   104

Total             127

Died from wounds received in action:

Officers (Captain Richter) 1
Enlisted men                     7