M437, 7/19/1861

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From the National Archives, M437 (Letters Received by the Confederate Secretary of War 1861-1865)

Camp of Instruction
Hermitage Fair Grouds, July 19 1861

Dear Sir

Owing to the absence of Surgeon R. A. Madison, I find myself acting Medical Director of the Camp of Instruction.

The peculiar character of the command and the limited number of authorized assistants compel me to ask special orders for my guidance. The post is occupied by an average of 3300 to 4000 men and officers. The occupants are changed from day to day. Regiments arrive or are organized here unprovided with surgeons, assistants, stewards, nurses or medicines; and, as a consequence, are dependant on the Medical Corps and supplies of the camp. The limited residence of the various bodies of men multiplies greatly the average ratio of sick per thousand. The actual medical force of the camp consists of one surgeon and two assistants, one wardmaster, one cook and four nurses. One assistant has been assigned by the War Department to the care of the hospital. The wardmaster, cook, nurses, &c are subject to his control; leaving the duties of visits in quarters, examinations for discharge & furlough, prescription & dispensary work, the administration of medicines, the issue of permits to the general & contract hospitals, out patients, records, reports and requisitions with medical direction to one surgeon and one assistant. With the constant volunteer aid of one, ad the partial volunteer assistance of another physician, it is found barely possible to get through the daily labor of administering to the actual wants of the sick. Under these circumstances it is beyond the power of man to make any correct returns or to reduce the medial administration to order or discipline. This is the experience of my predecessor and a few days convinces me of its correctness. [page break]

I am therefore compelled to ask the aid of the department - If a thorough organization and reliable records are expected, either medical officers must be attached to each regiment formed or about to be formed; or a permanent medical staff must be appointed equal to the demand of the force. There is so far as I can learn, no regularly appointed steward although a Doctor Franklin, disabled by sickness and asking a month's furlough, claims the place.

This representation is made with no desire to create unnecessary difficulties, but simply with the view of performing what I regard as my duty. I most respectfully seek the aid & counsel of those in authority as to what means shall be adopted to secure, efficiently, the comfort and welfare of the sick who come under my observation.

A. E. Peticolas, M. D.
Surgeon C. S. A.   A. Medical Director

Surgeon Surgeon D. C. DeLeon C. S. A.
A. Surgeon Genl

P. S. Since ending the above Dr. Peachy informs me that all the iron bedsteads and accompanying furniture used at the Camp Hospital have been sold by him as belonging to himself and partners and will be removed.

Surgeon Genls Office
Aug. 6, 1861

Respectfully returned

Surg. Peticolas was instructed to select from suitable men for the appt. of permanent Hospital Steward.

With regard to the demand for medical officers, Surgeon Peticolas has applied for and attained orders to another [page break] position - and Surg. Carrington has been assigned to duty there, but it is now recommended that a Surgeon be appointed as the Surgeon(?) in charge of the whole camp, and Dr. A. Y. P. Garnett, (formerly of the U. S. Navy) a physician of much experience, and high reputation, is suggested as a suitable person to fill the position.

S. P. Moore
Act. Surg. Gen.