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Official Records of the Rebellion

Official Records of the Rebellion

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[187] May 27 General F. J. Porter fought and defeated the enemy at Hanover Court-House. In this battle there were reported to me 62 killed and 210 Wounded. (But see revised statement, p. 65. ). Of the latter, 138 only went into the hospital. One hundred and twenty-three wounded prisoners fell into our hands. Ambulances were promptly sent for the wounded, and hospitals prepared for them in William Gaines’ and Hogan’s houses and outhouses. Hogan’s house being under fire, I was afterward obliged to remove the inmates (prisoners) to Dr. Gaines’ buildings, below. The wounded having been collected and attended to, I requested Colonel Ingalls to order the Knickerbocker to be in readiness to receive them that day (30th). I also directed the Elm City to carry 400 sick from White House to Yorktown. These boats were in possession of the Sanitary Commission. Neither of them were ready. I then directed our own boat, the Commodore, to be placed in position to receive the wounded, and requested Surgeon-General Smith to take the general direction of affairs at that point. (See appendix V.)

I then substituted the Daniel Webster No. 2 for the Elm City to convey the sick. This was met by further objection, and I was obliged to reiterate the order peremptorily, with instructions to the surgeon in charge of the hospital to call upon Colonel Ingalls to order the boat up and send the men off if there were any trouble. One hundred and [188] four wounded were sent down and received by Dr. Smith on the Commodore that day; of these 47 were prisoners. It was intended to remove the remainder of the wounded the next day, but a heavy rain coming on, we were obliged to defer it. That day at 2 p. m. the enemy attacked our left flank at Fair Oaks. The action lasted till night-fall. It was resumed the next morning, and continued till 11 a. m.

Immediately upon the commencement of the battle the boats at White House were ordered to be in readiness to receive the wounded. Surgeons were placed on board those in need of them. Other surgeons, volunteer and contract, of whom I had a supply at White House, were brought tip to the field depots. The transportation of the wounded was begun that night and steadily kept up till completed. This was accomplished by the 7th of June. I never received complete returns of the losses in this action. In Keyes’ corps 382were killed and 1,731 wounded. In Sumner’s the wounded were about 1,000, and in Heintzelman’s 750. The whole number sent from White House by the steamers was 3,580. Of these, 167 were conveyed to Philadelphia by the Wm. Whildin.

June 8 a skirmish took place in front of Sumner’s position, in which we had 4 killed and 23 wounded.

During all this time there were of course some men sick in the field hospitals. It was perceived they would be more and more in the way as new conflicts occurred, and it became necessary to devise some means of getting them to the rear. For this purpose I directed the establishment at Yorktown to be enlarged to the capacity of 2,500or 3,000 beds, so that I might relieve White house hospital and keep it clear for an emergency. The instructions to the officers in charge are in appendix marked W. I was in hopes I should have received before this the 400 hospital tents I had asked for while we were at Yorktown. About one-half of them arrived the middle of June. I requested General Van Vliet to have 100 pitched at White House for an extension of that hospital, and to deposit 75 at Savage and Fair Oaks Stations for use in another battle.

June 4, about 450 sick were sent to Boston by the Sanitary Commission, contrary to my orders. I had received instructions from the Surgeon-General to send no more sick North for a certain time, and had refused permission for this vessel to go to Boston; still she was sent. I do not doubt that the agent thought it made no difference where he went, but he was none the more excusable for that. However, if civilians are allowed to have anything to do with military matters confusion cannot be avoided. They see things only from their own limited standpoint, will form and act upon their own opinions, and in ninety-nine cases in one hundred go wrong.

June 19, I authorized Mr. Olmstead, of the Commission, to fill the steamer Daniel Webster No. 1 and the Spaulding from the White house and Yorktown hospitals, and proceed with them to New York.

A very large number of rebels killed at Fair Oaks were interred by our troops; still many were left unburied. They had fallen or had been carried into the woods, and had thus escaped observation. In the course of time they became so offensive as to seriously incommode our camps. Disinfectants were sent to be strewn over the grounds, and every exertion was made to abate the nuisance. Still, it had not entirely ceased when we left the vicinity.

June 14 scurvy was again reported as having appeared in Sumner’s corps. I sent an able medical officer to investigate it, who found six cases in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Massachusetts Regiments and [189] several others “acquiring the predisposition to the disease.” My reports and action on this will be found in the appendix U2 and U3. It will be seen from these reports that the occurrence of scurvy even in this very limited degree was due alone to the neglect of officers to enforce the orders from your headquarters in relation to the use of vegetables by the men. These orders were reiterated, whether with any better success I do not know, but I heard no more of scurvy.

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Official Records of the Rebellion: Volume Eleven, Chapter 23, Part 1: Peninsular Campaign: Reports, pp.187-189

web page Rickard, J (25 October 2006)


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