U.S. Army Medical Department, Office of Medical History
Skip Navigation, go to content







AMEDD MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS External Link, Opens in New Window






Field Service Regulations

Field Operations, Table of Contents





* * * * * * *

3. The mobile army.-The mobile army is primarily organized for offensive operations against an enemy, and on this account requires the maximum degree of mobility.

The basis of organization for the mobile army is the division. A division is a self-contained unit made up of all necessary arms and services, and complete in itself with every requirement for independent action incident to its ordinary operations.

When several divisions are acting together they may be grouped into field armies. To the field army there are attached certain organizations of an auxiliary character, called field army troops.

When the number of field army troops attached to a field army make it necessary, they are organized into a separate brigade for purposes of supply and administration and a commander is designated and the necessary staff is assigned to him. Infantry, cavalry, or military police may be attached to this separate brigade for defensive purposes on the march. The number of troops so assigned depends on the condition of the service and the number of field army troops in the brigade. Troops for the protection of field army troops are preferably furnished from troops assigned to the line of communications.

If the conditions of the particular service require it, divisions operating independently may be furnished with the necessary field army troops. A brigade operating independently, when so designated by competent authority, is known as a separate brigade, and when so operating may be supplied with the necessary special and field army troops.

When several field armies are operating in the same theater of war and if conditions so require it, they may be organized into armies.

4. A line of communications is established for each important force about to engage in field operations of an extensive character and supplied from a separate base.

* * * * * * *




Sanitary Service

329. In general, the functions of the sanitary service are as follows:

(a) The institution of all practicable sanitary measures, to the end that the fighting forces suffer no depletion in strength due to avoidable causes.

(b) The temporary care and professional treatment of the sick and wounded and their transportation to accessible points where they are transferred with as little delay as possible to the line of communications.

(c) The supply of the necessary sanitary equipment.

In addition, the sanitary service is charged with the preparation and preservation of individual records of sickness and injury in order that claims may be adjudicated with justice to the Government and the individual.


330. The personnel of the sanitary service in the zone of the advance may be classified into two general groups, as follows: First, that attached to organizations smaller than a brigade, which functions under the immediate orders of the organization commander and accompanies its unit into combat; second, that attached to the sanitary train, which functions under the orders of the division surgeon in accordance with such general or specific instructions as he may receive from the division commander. When necessary the sanitary personnel attached to organizations may be temporarily detached, in whole or part, and directed to operate with the sanitary train.

331. Sanitation.-Officers and men of all arms must have a knowledge of sanitation and its importance, to the end that no depletion of the fighting force occurs through avoidable causes. The importance of adopting and carrying out proper sanitary measures can not be overestimated.

Commanders of all grades are responsible for the sanitary condition of the quarters or localities occupied by their commands and for the enforcement of all sanitary regulations. In addition they are responsible that all sanitary defects reported to them are promptly corrected.

A medical officer of experience, designated sanitary inspector, is charged, under direction of the division surgeon, with investigating and reporting upon the sanitation of the division to which he is attached. Sanitary inspectors report the result of their inspections to local commanders as well as to the division surgeon.

332. First-aid packet.-Every man with the division carries a first-aid packet. The sanitary detachments with organizations carry pouches containing appliances for first aid and stimulants. The combat train carries litters and the necessary equipment for regimental aid station.

333. Regimental aid station.-This station, established by each regiment or independent battalion during combat and when justified by the number of wounded, is the place to which all wounded of the organization are carried by its sanitary personnel, and where emergency treatment is administered. The position of the station is fixed by the organization commander and is as near the firing line as possible. This station will often be but little more than a place for assembling the wounded, as its personnel belongs to the organization and, therefore, must be prepared to move with it. After receiving emergency treatment all wounded able to walk (except those with trivial wounds, who are sent back to the line) are directed to the station for slightly wounded; those unable to walk are delivered to the bearers sent forward from the sanitary train.

The equipment of the regimental aid station is carried on the combat train. It is operated by the sanitary personnel of the organization.

334. Dressing stations.-These stations, established during combat by ambulance companies of the sanitary train in the immediate rear of the line or regimental aid stations, are the places where all wounded unable to walk are collected from regimental aid stations by bearers of ambulance companies. If conditions so warrant, these bearers may be assisted in their work by portions of the organization sanitary personnel. From these stations the wounded are transported by ambulance companies back to field hospitals. The equipment of dressing stations is more elaborate than that of the regimental aid station. It provides light nourishment and stimulants for the wounded and affords facilities for more elaborate dressings and for emergency surgery.

The equipment for dressing stations and the necessary personnel are supplied by the ambulance companies of the sanitary train.

335. Ambulance companies.-Ambulance companies push up close to the rear of the fighting troops and as near the line of regimental aid stations as possible and establish dressing stations. It addition to their functions at the dressing stations, they are charged with the transportation of the wounded back to field hospitals and with providing the necessary equipment for infirmary service in camps. When field hospitals have not been set up and when sanitary columns or railway hospital trains of the line of communications are reasonably accessible, ambulance companies transport the wounded directly to them.


336. Field hospital companies.-Field hospital companies form part of the sanitary train. They are set up when conditions so warrant ordinarily some 3 or 4 miles from the battle field, and are the places to which the wounded are transported by ambulance companies. Their position must be one accessible both from the front and rear and where good water is available. Field hospitals are not set up when the sick or wounded can be turned over conveniently to elements of the sanitary column or railway hospital trains of the line of communications. Canvas is pitched only when buildings are not available or are inadequate for the purpose of housing the wounded.

The equipment of field hospitals, while more elaborate than that of dressing stations and while providing canvas for protection of the wounded from the weather and facilities for more extended surgical work, is nevertheless limited to providing necessities for the sick and wounded pending their evacuation to the rear by the line of communications. (See also par. 268.)

337. Evacuation points.-The sanitary column of the line of communications includes ambulance companies and evacuation hospitals; there may also be available railway hospital trains and boats, any or all of which may be used as the means for the evacuation of the sick and wounded from the division. The places at which the sick and wounded are transferred from the division to the line of communications elements are termed evacuating points.

The positions of evacuating points are fixed in the same manner as is the refilling point of the supply service (see par. 288) and communicated directly from division headquarters to the commander of the sanitary train.

338. Station for slightly wounded.-A station for slightly wounded is established when combat is imminent to relieve dressing stations and field hospitals of the slightly wounded who can walk and require but little attention. Its position is fixed in division orders. It is operated by the personnel of the sanitary train detailed for the purpose. It is conspicuously marked so that it can be readily found.

339. The sanitary train.-The sanitary train is composed of a train headquarters, ambulance companies, field hospital companies, camp infirmaries, medical supply unit, and reserve medical supplies. The sanitary train is commanded by the senior medical officer on duty with the train. Upon its release from the control of the commander of trains, it operates in accordance with orders or instructions received from division headquarters. (C. F. S. R., Nos. 3 and 10.)

340. Service in camps.-In camps an ambulance service is furnished from the sanitary train. Infirmaries are set up at convenient points by order of the division surgeon and operated by the sanitary personnel attached to the organizations which the infirmary serves. Here cases not requiring hospital treatment are cared for, all other cases being promptly removed by the ambulance service. The senior medical officer of the units served by the infirmary assumes charge of the same and is authorized to call directly on the other organizations for their proportionate share of medical officers and sanitary personnel for the infirmary service. The sergeant, Hospital Corps, detailed with the infirmary, remains with it in charge of the equipment. If necessary, field hospitals are set up for the reception of the seriously sick and wounded. (C. F. S. R., No. 3.)

341. Service on the march.-When out of the presence of the enemy, ambulances are ordinarily ordered distributed by the division commander throughout the column, in the rear of regiments, battalions, etc. A camp infirmary is assigned to each brigade and marches in its rear, and a field hospital should be so located in the column of march as to permit of its being available for the reception of seriously sick and injured as soon as possible after the arrival of troops in camp. (C. F. S. R., No. 3.)

342. During marches in the presence of the enemy, ambulance companies are kept intact. It may be advisable to assign one or more of these companies to a position in the column of the combatant troops, but any further dispersion is inadvisable. When combat is imminent and when so ordered by the column commander, the ambulance companies fail out of the column, and as soon as the combatant troops have passed they proceed to function as described in "Service in Combat." (See par. 111.)


343. A man falling out from sickness or injury is sent with a pass, showing his name, company, and regiment or corps to the medical officer in the rear. The latter returns the pass, having indicated thereon the disposition made of the man.

If the man is unable to walk he is picked up by the first ambulance and cared for. If able to walk he may either be required to follow immediately behind his organization or ordered to await the arrival of the sanitary train. In the latter case, he is furnished with a tag showing the orders given him.

The arms, personal equipment, and clothing of soldiers who fall out are carried with them.

The horse, saber, and horse equipment of a mounted soldier admitted to the ambulance, or otherwise disposed of, are taken back to the troops by the noncommissioned officer that accompanied him.

344. Service in combat.-In the absence of medical assistance the wounded apply their first-aid packets, if practicable. With this exception the care of the wounded devolves upon the sanitary troops, and no combatant, unless duly authorized, is permitted to take or accompany the sick or injured to the rear.

345. The sanitary personnel of organizations must remain with it when advancing into action and during the whole course of an engagement. Accordingly the wounded will be treated where their wounds are received, and the sanitary personnel will pause, if the organization is moving, only so long as is necessary to give appropriate first aid. At a later stage of the combat, when the movement of the organization permits and when justified by the number of wounded, a regimental aid station is established and operated.

346. When combat is imminent, the station for slightly wounded is announced in division orders, and thereafter it is to this station that all disabled men able to walk are ordered to report. They are furnished with a tag showing the orders given them by the medical officer authorizing their proceeding to this station.

347. The evacuation of the wounded from regimental aid stations when established, and the evacuation of the wounded left by the organizations during an advance when a regimental aid station has not been established, devolves on the personnel of the sanitary train. In the case of a deliberate attack on the enemy in position or when our forces occupy a defensive position, the positions of dressing stations are fixed in orders by the division commander, and communicated to the troops. The division commander in this case advises the commander of the sanitary train as to the position of the field hospitals.

348. In the case of a rencontre engagement, the work of establishing dressing stations, field hospitals, and of evacuating wounded during combat from the dressing station to the field hospital, or in certain cases directly to the line of communications, must be left to a great extent to the initiative and judgment of the commander of the sanitary train and his subordinates. To this end the commander of the sanitary train sends forward one or more ambulance companies to make contact in certain prescribed areas with the sanitary formations of the combatant units. When ambulance companies have been assigned positions in the column of march of combatant troops, they are ordinarily utilized in this work. The remaining ambulance companies ordinarily accompanied by one field hospital and under the immediate command of the sanitary train commander follow, and are held together in reserve at a certain prearranged position selected by the sanitary train commander and by him communicated to the commander of the ambulance companies sent ahead. The other field hospitals remain for the time being under the control of the commander of trains, to be brought forward later if required. The ambulance company commanders ordered to make contact with the combatant organizations push forward agents for the purpose of sanitary reconnaissance and for arranging for the position of the dressing stations and for determining the best lines of approach to them. When so ordered they establish dressing stations and commence collecting wounded from the different regimental aid stations, ultimately sending them back to the field hospital at the prearranged point. The commander of the sanitary train keeps himself advised by means of agents of the progress and development of the


battle and the number of casualties in certain areas and from these reports and from orders received from the division surgeon, he pushes forward additional ambulance companies when required, prescribing the area of their respective activity and the point to which their wounded are to be transported. At the same time he may order forward such additional field hospitals as may be required.

349. Search for wounded.-After an engagement commanders organize a thorough search of the battle field in their vicinity for the wounded and assist in their protection and removal. The dead are collected by details from the line as soon as practicable after the battle and disposed of as the commander directs.

231. * * * Field hospitals immobilized for the care of the wounded will be evacuated as rapidly as the condition of the wounded and facilities for evacuation to the rear will permit. When the decision has been adverse and a retreat is necessary, all the severely wounded and the wounded whose transport might delay or impede the retreat will be left behind with the sanitary personnel and supplies necessary to their immediate needs.

350. Before a command enters upon a campaign, every member thereof is provided with an identification tag by which he can be identified if killed or wounded. Such tags are not removed from the dead, but are left on the bodies when interred or otherwise disposed of. Tags found on the bodies of the enemy's dead are collected and turned over to the commander of trains, who sends them to the provost marshal at the base.

351. Retreat.-In a retreat such portion of the sanitary personnel of the division as is required will remain with the sick and wounded that can not be moved, under the protection of the Red Cross flag.

352. American National Red Cross Association.-The services of this association, its equipment and personnel are utilized under the immediate direction of medical officers to the greatest extent possible in the care of sick and wounded in the service of the interior and on the line of communications. Their services are not utilized in the zone of the advance.

353. Badge of neutrality.-The emblem of neutrality is a red cross on a white ground. All persons belonging to the sanitary service, including the Red Cross Association personnel and chaplains attached to the army, wear on the left arm a brassard bearing this emblem stamped by competent authority. Those not uniformed carry a certificate of identity in addition to the brassard.

All sanitary formations and establishments display a Red Cross flag accompanied by the national flag. At night the position of sanitary formations are marked by green lanterns.