Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 27, 1863 (Tuesday): The Wounded Still at Gettysburg

Adams Express Buckle (

July 27, 1863.
     SIR: I arrived at Gettysburg on the morning of the 10th of July, forty hours later than I had hoped to do, in consequence of the irregularities and interruptions on the railways leading to that place. Medical Inspector Volume reached Gettysburg some two or three days in advance of me, and immediately on his arrival made arrangements for sending away such of the wounded as were in a condition to be moved in ambulances or on the railroad. Lieutenant-Colonel Volume had the immediate charge of forwarding the wounded to the general hospitals designated by yourself. In this he was assisted by Dr. Osborne, of the Army of the Potomac, a very active and energetic officer. Both of these officers performed the duty assigned them with very great faithfulness and efficiency. I believe the wounded were received at the railroad depot and placed on the cars with as much care, attention, and comfort as was possible under the circumstances. Before the arrival of the fifty ambulances sent from Washington by yourself, our means of conveying the wounded from the field hospitals to the railroad depot were inadequate, although I am satisfied that as many ambulances were left by the Army of the Potomac as could possibly be spared. The number of medical officers detailed by Medical Director Letterman to remain with the wounded was thought to be sufficient, and probably might have been had not thousands of the enemy`s wounded been thrown unexpectedly on our hands. For some days after the battle, many of the rebel wounded were in a most deplorable condition, being without shelter of any sort, and with an insufficient number of medical officers and nurses of their own army. Every effort was made to alleviate the sufferings of these unfortunate men, and as soon as it could be done they were placed under cover or sent away to some general hospital. Our wounded with some few exceptions, were sheltered within a day or two after the battle, and made as comfortable as circumstances would permit. The scarcity of straw for bedding was seriously felt, and it was not until eight or ten days after the conflict that a sufficient quantity could be obtained. As far as my observation extends, the medical officers of the army, and the citizen surgeons who were employed during the emergency, discharged their arduous duties with fidelity and ability. I never saw men work harder and complain less of the difficulties that surrounded them. Through the efficiency of the medical purveyor, Assistant Surgeon [Jeremiah B.] Brinton, his storehouse was rapidly filled with supplies suitable for the occasion, and, by an arrangement of your own, liberal supply of ale and port is daily furnished to such of the wounded as need them. Up to the 25th instant (the day left Gettysburg), 15, 875 of the wounded had been sent away, and since that time 250 more have been forwarded, amounting in all to 16,125, leaving still at Gettysburg abut 3,500, 3,000 of whom, it is believed, are not in a condition to be moved at present. Those who are obliged to remain will be quartered in a large field hospital established at a suitable place near the town, where I hope they will have all the comfort and receive all the attention and kindness to which they are so justly entitled. I cannot close this brief report without acknowledging the immense aid afforded by the Sanitary and Christian Commissions. The promptness, energy, and great kindness uniformly exhibited by these benevolent associations doubtless helped to save the lives of many, and gladdened the hearts of thousands, who hold their good and noble deeds in grateful remembrance. To Adams Express we are also greatly indebted for much liberality and kindness extended to the wounded at a time when they were most in need.

     Medical Inspector, U. S. Army.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 1, Page 25.  Adams Express, a company still in business today, was a messenger service for companies which had no doubt extended its services to wounded soldiers.


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