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1862.

Dr. Letterman, Medical Director of the Army of the

Potomac, in his report to General McClellan, makes the following interesting statement :

The surgery of these battlefields has been pronounced butchery. Gross misrepresentations of the conduct of medical officers have been made and scattered broadcast over the country, causing deep and heart-rending anxiety to those who had friends or relatives in the army, who might at any moment require the service of a surgeon. It is not to be supposed that there were no incompetent surgeons in the army. It is certainly true that there were; but these sweeping denunciations against a class of men who will favorably compare with the military surgeons of any country, because of the incompetency of and shortcomings of a few, are wrong, and do injustice to a body of men who have labored faithfully and well. It is easy to magnify an existing evil until it is beyond the bounds of truth. It is equally easy to pass by the good that has been done on the other side. Some medical officers lost their lives in their devotion to duty in the battle of Antietam, and others sickened from excessive labor which they conscientiously and skilsully performed. If any objection could be urged against the surgery of those fields, it would be the efforts on the part of surgeons to practise conservative surgery to too great extent.

I had better opportunities, perhaps, than any one else to form an opinion, and from my observations I am convinced that if any fault was committed it was that the knife was not used enough. So much has been said on this matter, that, familiar as I am with the conduct of the medical officers on those battlefields, I cannot, as the medical director of this army, see them misrepresented and be silent.

We are glad to give this publication, because we believe it is true, and the more willingly, for the opportunity offered of expressing our high appreciation of our own surgeons, whose services in our behalf deserve recognition. They were not only men of skill in their profession, but were courageous in battle, and kind and attentive to men needing their services. In this respect we were fortunate.

We cannot forbear mentioning the generosity shown by the people of the surrounding towns, who came on to the field the day following the battle, with food and supplies from their homes, not only for the wounded, but for the men who had escaped that misfortune. The people from Middletown, Sharpsburg, Hagerstown, and even Hancock, forty miles away, were inquiring for the Thirteenth Massachusetts Regiment. Hancock se a four-horse team loaded with food and delicacies for the wounded. The greatest pleasure of all was to 1862. see the faces of our friends of the previous winter, and

to feel that our service among them had left no unpleasant impression.

Guard-mounting, inspection, drilling, and reviews took up most of our time. When not so occupied, we were sleeping, cooking, or swapping stories round the camp-fire. As every man did his own cooking, he could devote as much of his spare hours as he wished in the preparation of choice dishes for the gratification of his palate. Some of the boys showed great skill, and in concocting a dish of “braxy-hash ” could make Delmonico turn green with envy.

The morning report of the Army of the Potomac on September 30 showed present and absent, including Banks' command in Washington, 303,959. Of this number, 100,000 were reported absent, 28,000 on special duty, and 73,000 present for duty under Banks ; leaving about 100,000 present for duty in McClellan's immediate command.

The discrepancy that occurred between the number of Saturday, troops sent to reënforce the Army of the Potomac, and October 25. the number reported to have arrived, so annoyed the

President, that he one day remarked, according to his biographers, that “sending men to that army was like shovelling fleas across a barnyard : not more than half of them got there."

At last the patience of Mr. Lincoln was exhausted at the interminable excuses given in explanation of McClellan's delay, and he sent the following despatch, dated at Washington, October 25, 4.50 P.M. :

TO MAJOR-GENERAL MCCLELLAN:

I have just received your despatch about sore-tongued and fatigued horses. Will you pardon me for asking what the horses of your army have done since the battle of Antietam that fatigues anything?

A. LINCOLN. After which the

army

moved.

All day yesterday and to-day it rained as though the Sunday, spigot had been pulled out of the clouds; a shelter tent October 26. was about as much protection as a sieve. Notwithstand

ing the rain, at 4 P.M. we broke camp and marched through Sharpsburg across the bridge toward Keedysville, and then 1862. to the right up the mountain, where we camped for the

night, near the crest. We were glad to move, even on Sunday, if it would only shorten the war. Monday,

At 8 A.M. we continued our march through Crampton's October 27. Pass to Burkettsville, where we camped.

Got away by 9 o'clock in the morning and marched to Tuesday,

Berlin, about six miles, and camped. This place is very October 28. little like its namesake, the capital of Germany. The

view as we marched down the mountain was superb.

Remained at Berlin all day yesterday and until the Thursday, afternoon of to-day, when we marched about seven miles, October 30. and camped near Waterford, crossing the Potomac on a

pontoon bridge. We remained at this place until the 31st, allowing the officers an opportunity to attend to that most agreeable of all duties, — making out the pay-rolls. The rank and file were always pleased when the officers were too busy for drilling.

Started at 9 A.M. and marched seven miles to PurcellSaturday, ville. We liked these short marches, particularly as the Nov. 1.

weather was pleasant and the temperature low. A little after midnight three of the boys, regardless of the eighth commandment, started out on a foraging expedition, having previously made arrangements with the picket-guard to let them through the line. Stumbling across fields, floundering through ditches, scrambling over stone walls, they finally reached a farm-house. All was quiet. The occupants, preoccupied in dreamy slumber, little suspected that beneath their windows a gang of Yankee soldiers were inspecting their premises for rebel chickens. As it was very dark, each of the out-buildings was examined before the right one was found. Having selected what could be easily carried, they prepared to return, when a loud screech from a half-choked hen broke the stillness of the midnight air, rousing the people in the house from pleasant dreams to an agonizing reality that the hens they had nursed from tender chickenhood to old age were being conveyed to that pot from whose bourne no hen returns. A voice from one of the windows was heard in unmistakable accents of alarm, calling upon 1862. them to stop. Any other time but this the boys would

have been glad to do so; but when duty calls, they must obey. They succeeded in reaching camp without their absence being discovered. In the morning one of the party, having some duty to perform, intrusted his plunder to a comrade whose knowledge of the art of cooking was superior to his own, and in whose fidelity he placed great confidence, to be cooked for dinner. Returning an hour or two later he found himself the victim of misplaced confidence, as the cook had devoured all but the legs. Having been remonstrated with for this exhibition of selfish eagerness, the cook replied, “ Those who dine with me must be on time."

During the day some of Burnside's troops passed us, Sunday,

among whom were Hawkins' Zouaves. Did they know Nov. 2.

it was Sunday? The weather was pleasant, but too cool

for shelter tents. About midnight we were turned out and formed in line, wagons loaded, and other preparations made to march, though we didn't move. We should have been quite as well satisfied if we had been allowed to sleep. Firing heard all day in the distance.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

CAMP NEAR BERLIN, MD., Nov. 2, 1862. III. Brig.-Gen. J. B. Ricketts is relieved from the command of the Second Division of the First Army Corps. He will proceed to Harper's Ferry, and there await further orders.

S. WILLIAMS,

Assistant Adjutant-General. About 1 P.M. we started on a march to Bloomfield, Monday,

which we reached after a round-about tramp of ten miles. On the way we crossed the Aldie Pike, on which

we paced off so many weary miles in March last. We followed the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge mountains.

Yesterday we marched about five miles from BloomWednesday, field, and to-day five miles on the road to Rectortown, Nov. 5.

camping near Middleburg. The road was greatly ob

structed by wagons. Friday,

Yesterday we marched fourteen miles towards Warrenton. To-day we continued the march eleven miles,

Nov. 3.

Nov. 7.

1862. camping near Warrenton, it being the third time we had

camped near this town. The nights were cold, and the men on guard suffered very much in consequence. We had a heavy snow-storm to-day.

At 4.30 P.M. we started for Rappahannock Station, Saturday,

but as the head of the column took the wrong road we Nov. 8.

had to retrace our steps, by which action we were on the

road until after midnight, having marched sixteen miles, while ten miles was all that was necessary. Though the chaplain returned to the regiment two days ago, the fluency of our remarks was in no way obstructed by his presence. “The sheep will stray when the shepherd is gone ” is an old but trite saying, hence the habit of profanity which possessed some of the boys.

Snowed hard to-day. At 6 A.M. we were ordered to Sunday, Nov. g.

“fall in," whereupon we stood in line, sleepy, tired, and disgusted, in readiness to support the cavalry which

made a dash across the Rappahannock River. At 8 A.M. we marched to the river to cover a bridge and ford, after which we were sent out on picket duty for twenty-four hours, Company K being left to guard the ford. As the river at this point was only twenty feet wide, conversation by the enemy was plainly heard during the night.

Our brigade was temporarily detached from the corps (First), which was encamped near Warrenton. This was the same spot where we camped on our retreat from Culpeper.

The order removing General McClellan was officially Tuesday, announced to-day, but it made no ripple in our affairs. Nov. 11. We were not affected by so overpowering a love for him

as to shed tears, though it is possible that “thousands," as he says, may have found it necessary to relieve their overcharged feelings by flushing out the sluiceways of their optics.

On page 652 of “McClellan's Own Story" may be found these words :

The order depriving me of the command created an immense deal of deep feeling in the army so much so that many were in favor of my refusing to obey the order, and of marching upon Washington take possession of the government. My chief purpose in remaining with the army as long as I did after being relieved was to calm this feeling, in which I succeeded.

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