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Ozzy

Full Hospitals

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As result of the campaign against Fort Donelson, the Union suffered 507 killed and 1976 wounded; and the Confederates lost 327 killed and reported 1127 wounded. And because the United States Forces were victorious, Federal forces were responsible for burying (or removing for burial) over 800 dead; and providing care for more than 3000 wounded.

Many wounded Confederate soldiers were sent to Union hospitals in Louisville (which got General U.S. Grant off-side with Don Carlos Buell, who complained to Henry Halleck about wounded soldiers being deposited in his Military District without permission.) The remainder, Union and Rebel, mostly went to hospitals in Paducah, Mound City, St. Louis, and elsewhere. But, by the end of February 1862, many Union soldiers were still unaccounted for -- by their families back home. And the mostly full hospitals along the Ohio River and Mississippi Rivers were not emptying. (And there was concern that the 700-bed Hospital at Mound City was kept full due to incompetence of the Director, Doctor Franklin.) The people of Illinois expressed their dissatisfaction in newspapers; and in letters to their Representatives in Springfield.

In response, at the end of February, Governor Yates of Illinois sent a Commission of Doctors to Cairo on a fact-finding mission [see Chicago Daily Tribune of 25 FEB 1862, page 1.] Doctors Curtis, Johns and Williams, and Major Starring, visited the most concerning facilities. As a result, the hospitals at Mound City and Paducah were found to be full because of the large numbers of recently admitted sick men (who added their numbers to the slowly departing Fort Donelson wounded.) Dr. Franklin at Mound City was determined to be doing his best: he had even sent 100 men home on furlough to complete their recoveries. And, at Fort Donelson, the Commissioners compiled more complete records of the dead; and discovered over 200 wounded men still in vicinity (many of these wounded Union soldiers had been captured by the Rebels during the Campaign, and placed in Nashville hospitals for care. And remained behind when the Confederates evacuated. ) About 100 of the worst cases were sent to St. Louis for hospitalization; 115 others were sent home on furlough.

Governor Yates published his March 7th report in the 14 MAR 1862 edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune.

A few days later, General Lew Wallace sent over 200 desperately sick men away from Crump's Landing aboard the steamer, Telegraph, for treatment that could not be acquired at Savannah, Tennessee... and unwittingly initiated friction between himself and General Grant (and infuriated the prickly Henry Halleck, who hated malingerers, and believed "his Furlough System" was being abused.)

And, although this topic has been covered pretty thoroughly, it turns out... there is more to the story.

Ozzy

 

References:    http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84031490/1862-03-14/ed-1/seq-3/#date1=1862&sort=date&rows=20&words=FRANKLIN+Franklin&searchType=basic&sequence=0&index=16&state=Illinois&date2=1862&proxtext=Franklin&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=10   Chicago Daily Tribune for 14 MAR 1862 and 25 FEB 1862.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Fort_Donelson  Fort Donelson casualty figures.

 

 

 

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In spite of the measures taken by Illinois Governor Yates to resolve the perceived Hospital crisis, a second issue involving the military health system emerged: one of the Commissioners sent by Yates (who happened to be a member of the Chicago Sanitary Commission, tasked with collecting donated items and distributing those items for relief of wounded Federal soldiers) received a report that Sanitary Commission goods and services had been misused after Fort Donelson. In particular, the informant reported that much of the donated material had ended up in the hands of hawkers, or had otherwise "gone missing" ...and essential goods did not reach the wounded soldiers. [Sanitary Commissions were the precursors of the American Red Cross, and collected such items as medicines, bandages, undergarments, socks, mittens, pillow cases and bed sheets. They also organized the transport of volunteer civilian doctors to the aftermath of battles. In addition, money was often donated, which was used to purchase necessary hospital/medical items.]

In response, Governor Yates sent another Commission, this one mostly composed of members of  Chicago Sanitary Commission officers (including Reverend W.W. Patton) south to Cairo and environs to investigate this latest potential outrage. [This commission arrived at Cairo third week of March 1862.]

Simultaneous with these potential crises, and their attempted resolution by Governor Yates, General Lew Wallace sent away his steamer full of sick men, about March 18th, that so infuriated Henry Halleck... and caused that Commander of the Department of the Mississippi to lash out at General Grant for sending away those "malingerers." In short order, Grant was directed to "fire his improperly appointed Chief Surgeon, Henry S. Hewitt" and stop sending men out of his district and "stop the abuse of the Furlough System." In response, General Grant used "Henry Halleck's Anger" as justification to launch a Purge against his "loose cannons" (see http://shilohdiscussiongroup.com/topic/1540-officers-under-arrest/?tab=comments#comment-10225 ). But Grant also knew he had real problems: his hospitals at Savannah were full; his district hospitals at Paducah and Mound City were rumored to be full;  he had insufficient medical professionals on hand for the pending operation against Corinth; he was out of medicines; and he did not see the justice in firing Surgeon Hewitt.

So, on March 22nd, General Grant sent away his second senior medical officer, Surgeon John Brinton, to speak to Henry Halleck directly, and plead the case:

  • for medicines (enough for 10,000 sick men)
  • two more hospital boats to be sent, immediately, to Savannah;
  • approval to maintain Surgeon Hewitt as Medical Director in the Field.

On his way north (John Brinton reached St. Louis on March 28th) Surgeon Brinton stopped at Cairo, about March 25th, and met with Chief Surgeon Simons to find out the real state of affairs of the Hospital System (and probably to see if any spare medicines were available.)

General Henry Halleck, over at St. Louis, after getting past his initial anger and taking time to reflect, must have come to a realization: 

  • his hospitals at Paducah, Mound City, and New Albany were full (with a major operation against Corinth about to commence)
  • there were rumors that medicines were running short at those hospitals;
  • there was a rumor (reported in the Chicago Daily Tribune) that Sanitary Commission stores had been "improperly handled"

Unfortunately, adding to the uncertainty, and hindering resolution of the dilemma: the command at two of the important posts affected by this crisis had changed. Colonel Silas Noble, 2nd Illinois Cavalry, took over the Post of Paducah upon the departure of William Tecumseh Sherman (effective March 8th); and Brigadier General W.K. Strong took command of the District of Cairo effective March 21st (replacing General Eleazer Paine, who left to take part in the Operation at Island No.10). Were these new commanders even aware of the potential problems (overcrowded hospitals, lack of medicines, the possible theft of donated Sanitary Commission stores)?

How to find out the truth? 

General Grant had dispatched Surgeon John Brinton as his "problem solver."

Who might Henry Halleck have sent to conduct an inspection, a fact-finding mission, to determine the state of the hospitals in the lead-up to Corinth?

Yours to ponder...

Ozzy

 

References:  OR 11 page 73 (US Grant to Henry Halleck of 28 MAR 1862)

SDG topic "Officers Under Arrest" (various posts)

Papers of US Grant volume 4 pages 402 - 5 and 415.

Chicago Daily Tribune editions of March 26, 27, and 28 of 1862 (mostly on page one, all issues) and page 2 of March 28, and page 4 (March 27).

 

 

 

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Aftermath of Battle

When one thinks of "preparing for battle," consideration is given to transporting troops to the scene; and providing those troops with arms and ammunition. After a bit of reflection: making sure the troops have access to clean drinking water... and food... and tents (or other shelter) are often deemed as necessary. Yet, few give serious thought to the aftermath: are sufficient, suitable Hospital facilities on hand?

For General U.S. Grant, consideration of Hospital facilities encompassed a steep learning curve, dating from Battle of Belmont (where there was no Hospital boat taken along on the expedition.) The 380 wounded Federal soldiers needed to be returned to Cairo, where the available medical facilities became taxed: half the wounded were tended at regimental hospitals; the remainder were admitted to Cairo's Brick House, and the newly commissioned Mound City General Hospital. (And calls went out to the civilian community for donation of "auxiliary materials for the care and comfort of wounded soldiers" ...which helped bolster the activities of the Western Sanitary Commission.)

In preparation for the Fort Henry Campaign, General Grant issued General Orders No.6 (of 1 FEB 1862) "Regiments leaving for the field will take only well men. The sick will be left behind, under care of an Assistant Surgeon, or placed in the General Hospital."  Also, from Papers of US Grant vol.4 page 473, in response to a query regarding "available beds at the General Hospital," Surgeon Edward C. Franklin, Chief of Mound City General Hospital, on February 2nd, replied to General Grant: "These are the number of beds available -- 325 comfortably; 400 in an emergency." Also, prior to culmination of the Fort Donelson operation, a Hospital Boat was on site (near the Gunboat Landing) and Mother Bickerdyke was in attendance.

[This information is provided to illustrate that Hospital facilities, sufficient medicines, competent medical practitioners, and proper handling of medical stores and supplies was a concern of General Grant's, even before the crisis recognized during third week of March 1862. Also, Surgeon John Brinton accompanied General Grant into the field at Belmont; and was instrumental in the development of Mound City Hospital. So, it makes sense that Grant would send Surgeon Brinton away, under orders to "sort out the overcrowding and medicine shortage problems."]

But, Henry Halleck did not have that "inside knowledge." So when he sent an officer to conduct an inspection, in an effort to sort out the apparent Hospital crisis at Cairo/Mound City, he relied on an experienced officer who happened to be going in that direction, anyway...

Any guesses who it was?

Ozzy

 

ReferencesPapers of US Grant vol.4 pp. 471 - 3.

The Battle of Belmont: Grant strikes South, by N.C. Hughes, Jr. (1991) Uni NC Press, page 183.

http://www.nytimes.com/1862/02/02/news/gen-halleck-s-department-our-cairo-correspondenoe-expedition-sent-search-jeff.html?pagewanted=all  (scroll down in New York Times article of 26 JAN 1862 for a detailed description of Mound City General Hospital, administered by Surgeon Edward C. Franklin, just prior to Campaign against Fort Henry of February 1862.)

 

 

 

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Brigadier General William K. Strong arrived at Cairo March 21st 1862 and assumed command of the District of Cairo. Three months later...

http://www.loc.gov/item/mal1666200/  Letter of Appreciation dated 27 June 1862 from Governor Salomon of Wisconsin (replaced Governor Harvey)

http://www.loc.gov/item/mal1710800/  Letter of Appreciation dated 14 July 1862 from Governor Yates of Illinois.

Both of the Governors used occasion of a freak accident involving General Strong to write and express their well-wishes for speedy recovery; and to express appreciation for the efforts the General exerted in "sorting out the Health System mess of February/March" and "for acting promptly and decisively in the aftermath of Battle of Shiloh" (General Strong sent a score of steamers and hospital boats to Savannah and Pittsburg Landing; and assisted in expediting the arrival there of over one hundred surgeons. As the steamers returned from the Tennessee River, General Strong forwarded them on to the closest available hospital: as far east as Cincinnati, and as far west as Missouri and Iowa.)

Ozzy

References:  Chicago Daily Tribune of 19 June 1862, page 1, col.5 ("General Strong accidentally shot in the arm by a clerk.")

Chicago Daily Tribune of 10 April 1862, page 1 ("General Strong sending every available boat to bring up the wounded.")

Chicago Daily Tribune of 11 April 1862, page 1 ("General Strong helped coordinate the sending of surgeons to Savannah.")

Chicago Daily Tribune of 26 March 1862, page 2 ("General Strong and three other officers inspected Mound City Hospital March 24th.")

 

 

 

 

 

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To sum up, Brigadier General W. K. Strong departed St. Louis (where he had spent the last several months in charge of Benton Barracks) and arrived at Cairo Illinois on March 21st 1862... just in time to get caught up in the "Hospital Crisis" and "Possible Misuse of Donated Sanitation Stores Scandal" then gripping Illinois. Back at St. Louis, it appears that Henry Halleck realized he had thrown General Strong into the Lion's Den; and determined to send a man east who could help Strong "sort out the mess." That man was Benjamin Prentiss, former Commander at Cairo and familiar with the facilities in vicinity. It is known that Brigadier General Prentiss inspected Mound City General Hospital (in company with General Strong), and likely examined the situation at Cairo Hospital (called "the Brick House") as well (see Chicago Daily Tribune of 26 March 1862, page 2, "Latest from Cairo.") After General Prentiss departed to join Grant's Army of West Tennessee, he left General Strong in good shape, with a solid grasp of the situation IRT the Hospital System. (General Strong appears to have continued giving priority to the operation of the Hospital System, as evidenced by the Letters of Appreciation he received for his efforts in expediting care to the sick and wounded at Pittsburg Landing after Battle of Shiloh.)

Ozzy

N.B.  Both Henry Halleck and Benjamin Prentiss thought they were readying District Hospitals to receive wounded men from the upcoming Operation against Corinth; they had no idea that those hospitals (and about twenty more, along with a dozen Hospital Boats) would be required, and so soon. Which is why General W. K. Strong presents as an under-appreciated star: it was his decisions and actions that resulted in over 7,000 wounded Federals (and, perhaps, a thousand wounded Rebels) finding their way into available -- empty -- Hospitals.

 

 

 

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Thanks for putting this series together. The general feeling now is that the wounded were very badly handled at Shiloh (and many, many were) yet there were also experienced surgeons who worked tirelessly to do the best they could. Doctors of that era were strong anatomists and some, with that knowledge plus experience coupled with dexterity, did save lives with tourniquets and amputations. If only Pasteur and Lister had come a decade or so earlier. A.S. Johnson almost certainly could have been saved with a simple tourniquet if he had not sent his surgeon away to treat others. Surgeon General William A. Hammond made a valiant attempt to enforce the ancient edict of "first do no harm" by removing calomel and tartar emetic from the Army formulary (May 6, 1863). But that was a year after Shiloh.  The resulting "Calomel War" was part of the reason for Hammond's short tenure. Dr. Letterman's ambulance groups were a huge innovation. 

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Rbn3

Thanks for adding a bit more background, to help expand on the Hospital System topic. Some of the other "beliefs" of that time period:

  • mosquitoes did not cause Yellow Fever or Malaria (they could actually help cure it, by "sucking out" the toxin -- which was the result of breathing "bad air")
  • flowing water "purified itself" after about ten feet of flow;
  • no need to wash your hands before preparing food (except to get rid of "obvious dirt")
  • Calomel was "a household remedy" used by everybody (and a trusted cure-all used by U. S. Army.) It was a difficult task, almost impossible, to get the Army to stop making use of the Mercury compound (and its abolition is likely the cause of forward-thinking Surgeon Hammond being fired from his job.)
  • Henry Halleck, W. T. Sherman and many other commanders shared the belief that, "A sick man has a better chance of recovering from his illness if left at camp, than if removed to anywhere else." This may have been marginally true (if sick men left in the fresh air of camp were compared to sick men languishing in the stagnant-air, germ-incubators of Hospital.) But, there are too many cases of "sick men on death's door" recovering fully when removed to their pre-war homes (i.e., loving care) to ignore.
  • Half-rations. Upon any extended reading of Civil War records, a mention of the use of "half-rations being given to men who were doing nothing" is to be encountered... even advocated. This practice killed most of the men, North and South, who were confined in Prisoner of War Camps: the strength and resilience of the body would decline, making it more susceptible to infection or diarrhea-type conditions, especially if the food making up the half-ration was improperly handled or otherwise contaminated. The weakened man, often made under-weight by prolonged exposure to half-rations, had no strength reserves to fight simple illnesses that could be overcome in any other setting. (And, amazingly, after the Civil War concluded, both sides denied they made use of "half-rations.")

We've come a long way...

Ozzy

 

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yes even the "full rations" did not contain enough nutrients to maintain a healthy body wt let along sustain the energy needs to march and/or the exposure to the harsh elements. many soldier were young men still needing nutrition for growth and were used to eating well at home.

 

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" But, there are too many cases of "sick men on death's door" recovering fully when removed to their pre-war homes (i.e., loving care) to ignore. " After the Battle of Shiloh, my Grandfather came down with the Tenn. Trots (It's what he called it in his pension papers!), which was dysentery. That got him put in the Division hospital, where he came down with malaria (I showed all the paperwork to my Doc and he said he probably had the malaria first, which made him susceptible to dysentery). They put him on a boat to St. Louis, where he came down with typhoid fever. In the St. Louis hospital, they figured he was a dead man and stuck him in the corner. WI was taking their terminal men home to treat and he headed back to mom. She healed him up and he was back in time for the Battle of Corinth in Oct. They were a wee bit tougher back then!

Jim

 

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Jim

Thanks for sharing the story of your 16th Wisconsin Grandfather. Other "successful recuperations" that spring to mind:

  • Sergeant Edward Spalding, 52nd Illinois (wounded at Shiloh) taken home to Rockford Illinois;
  • Colonel Jacob Lauman, 7th Iowa (wounded at Belmont) recovered at home in Burlington Iowa;
  • BGen John McArthur, 2nd Brigade of Smith's Division (wounded at Shiloh) recovered at home in Chicago;
  • Colonel John Logan, 31st Illinois (wounded at Fort Donelson) recovered at home in Chicago;
  • Private-elect Thomas Clendenin. Trained with the Governor's Greys at Dubuque; failed muster into 1st Iowa Infantry, due having contracted measles in camp (along with seven other men.) Sent home to Dubuque; recovered from illness and joined 12th Iowa, Co.H 

Probably the most notorious example of a man not recovering from a minor injury (while remaining "in Hospital"): General C. F. Smith. His upstairs bedroom at the Cherry Mansion became de facto Private Hospital (after first seeking treatment aboard steamer, Hiawatha.) Would General Smith have recovered if he had been sent home?

Always more to the story...

Ozzy

 

 

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I could not give you "sources" on this story to save my life.  One of those things you read, and remember reading, but can't "re-find" the story to save your life.  But I recall the story of a wounded soldier at Gettysburg.  He was wounded and he simply asked for a bowl of hot water each day (where and how he learned this I can't remember).  But, while wounded Federals were dying like flies around him, he eventually recovered and lived.  He washed his wound with hot water each day.  I just took a college course semi-regarding this medical subject.  What a shame, the U.S. was on the brink of technology that would have saved so many lives.  

Just imagine what penicillin and Pepto could have done for those poor soldiers back then.

Stan  

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Yes, it is a shame "what could have been" if the Civil War had occurred just a decade later. But at the same time, it must be recognized that the Civil War provided impetus for many of those necessary improvements. Florence Nightingale is recognized "for getting the ball rolling," providing female nursing during the Crimean War of 1850's. Dorothea Dix provided a similar service in America (replaced by Clara Barton as Administrator of Nurses.) Clara Barton's work was essential (initiated a "tracking program" to determine locations and ultimate fate of "missing soldiers" ...the precursor (with elements of Sanitation Commission) of American Red Cross (officially commenced 1881. The International Red Cross began during the Civil War, but in Europe.)

The surgeons and medical practitioners of the 1860's did the best they could, with what was known at the time.

Ozzy

References:  http://www.bestnursingmasters.com/10-greatest-nurses-of-the-american-civil-war/  Civil War Nurses

http://www.biography.com/people/florence-nightingale-9423539  Florence Nightingale

http://www.nps.gov/clba/learn/kidsyouth/chron2.htm  Timeline of Clara Barton activities

 

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On 3/4/2018 at 9:35 PM, Stan Hutson said:

I could not give you "sources" on this story to save my life.  One of those things you read, and remember reading, but can't "re-find" the story to save your life.  But I recall the story of a wounded soldier at Gettysburg.  He was wounded and he simply asked for a bowl of hot water each day (where and how he learned this I can't remember).  But, while wounded Federals were dying like flies around him, he eventually recovered and lived.  He washed his wound with hot water each day.  I just took a college course semi-regarding this medical subject.  What a shame, the U.S. was on the brink of technology that would have saved so many lives.  

Just imagine what penicillin and Pepto could have done for those poor soldiers back then.

Stan  

i bet at home wounds were treating like this...so he learned from his mama.so might explain why those that did get to go home recovered at a higher percentile.

 

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i remember back some time ago i heard at a surgeon's tent that one surgeon when being unable to obtain suture material in desparation used horse tail hair...to soften he boiled the hair then sutured the wounds..those wounds showed a tendancy to heal w/o infection.  so medicine /surgery in the civil war was a learning process.

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An outcome...

After Generals Strong and Prentiss inspected Mound City General Hospital, it appears action was taken:

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82015672/1862-03-28/ed-1/seq-2/#date1=1862&sort=date&rows=20&words=Pittsburg&searchType=basic&sequence=0&index=15&state=Indiana&date2=1862&proxtext=Pittsburg&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=3  Evansville Daily Journal for 28 MAR 1862 page 2, col. 1, para 3 -- "The Louisiana has passed up from Mound City, full of sick and wounded from the General Hospital, to make room for those who may be wounded in a Battle likely to take place soon in Mississippi. The Louisiana is bound for Cincinnati."

A bit more to the story...

Ozzy

 

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