HDQRS. U.S. FORCES OPERATING FROM PENSACOLA BAY,
OFFICE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER,
Blakely, Ala., April 15, 1865.
COLONEL: Agreeable to orders from your office I forward the following report of this command in the recent campaign from Pensacola, including the march from that point to Blakely and the operations for the reduction of the latter place:
The command, consisting of Brig. Gen. C. C. Andrews' division of the Thirteenth Army Corps, Brig. Gen. J.P. Hawkins' division of U.S. Colored Troops, and Brigadier-General Lucas' brigade of cavalry, numbering in all about 12,000 men, moved from Pensacola, Fla., on the 20th of March, 1865. The command was in an excellent sanitary condition, having left all the sick and disabled in the general hospital at Barrancas, and having been well fed and clothed in anticipation of the campaign. The morale of the command was also of the first order, each regiment trying to stand at the head of the list for efficiency and good discipline. The command was supplied with the full amount of medical stores, hospital tents, and ambulances allowed by the existing orders, and all in good condition except the ambulance train of General Hawkins' division, which was hardly serviceable. On the first day's march from Pensacola it began to rain and continued almost without intermission for forty-eight hours, rendering the condition of the roads almost impassable. The condition of the men during this long rainstorm was miserable in the extreme, being unable to dry their clothing during the time, and owing to the flat condition of the ground unable to find a dry place to sleep or rest. But little sickness resulted from this exposure and the spirit of the troops was not depressed in the least. From this point the roads had to be covered with corduroy bridge for many miles, and while half the command were engaged in laying it the other half were assisting the artillery and wagon trains. On the 25th we reached the vicinity of Bluff Springs, where we found Brigadier-General Clanton, with a small force, prepared to oppose our farther progress. Brigadier-General Lucas, commanding cavalry forces, ordered the First Louisiana Cavalry to charge, which it did in fine style, killing several and capturing General Clanton with 140 men. General Clanton was wounded through the body and left with the other wounded of his command in a small house near the battle-field. Doctor Grigsby, surgeon, C. S. Army, was left with a sufficient number of attendants to care for the wounded. Our casualties were slight, only two being killed and a few slightly wounded, who were taken with the command in ambulances. On the 26th the whole command was put on one-fourth rations and large details were employed each day in laying corduroy bridges, while others were assisting in extricating artillery and wagons from the mud. In many places the trains had to be moved entirely by the men, it being utterly impossible for the animals to get through. We reached Stockton on the 30th, where we found large quantities of corn and a grist-mill, and the command halted twenty-four hours, in order that a supply of meal might be obtained.
On the 1st of April we arrived in the vicinity of Blakely, having marched a distance of 120 miles over the worst of roads, many estimating that thirty miles of corduroy bridge were made. For several days the troops were on one-fourth rations, were working every day as well as marching for days without dry clothing, and yet there was scarcely any sickness, nearly every man being able to take his place in the ranks when the advance was made. Field hospitals were established in the rear of the center of each division, the corps of operation reported promptly, and everything made ready to care for the wounded. The hospitals had to be moved several times on account of the shells from the rebel gun-boats reaching so far to the rear, but finally secure positions were secured, that for General Andrews' division near Mr. O. Sibley's house, and that for General Hawkins' division near the house of Mr. Wilson, on the Stockton road. The ambulances were stationed in localities secure and easy of access from the several regiments, and the wounded promptly removed from the field to the ambulance stations on hand litters. General Hawkins' division suffered severely on the 1st, 2d, and 3d from shells thrown from the rebel gun-boats, but after they were driven off the daily list of casualties was small until the evening of April 9, when the works were carried by assault and hundreds of wounded were hurried to the hospitals. Finding the hospital accommodations in General Andrews' division were inadequate, I had the wounded removed to the house of Mr. O. Sibley, where there was plenty of shelter and excellent water in abundance. By 10 p.m. all the wounded had been removed from the field and before morning every man had received attention. The wounded were not exposed to wet or rain at any time and the changes of atmosphere proved no detriment to them. The supplies of food, water, stimulants, and medical supplies were abundant, and no case of suffering came under my notice from neglect or scarcity of supplies. The wounded were removed in ambulances to the steam-ship Saint Mary's, at the landing below Spanish Fort, and shipped from that point to the U.S. general hospitals at New Orleans. Most of the wounded from General Andrews' division were shipped on the 12th, and the remainder, with those from General Hawkins', on the 13th of April, and a sufficient number of medical officers and attendants were sent to care for the wounded. The several medical officers belonging to the command have done their duty nobly and well; laboring under the many difficulties of an active campaign they did all within their power to ameliorate the condition of the wounded.
I have the honor to be, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
P. A. WILLIS,
Surgeon 48th Ohio, Chief Medical Officer, General Steele's Army.
Col. E. H. ABADIE,
Surg., U. S. Army, Chf. Med. Officer, Army and Div. of West Miss.
SOURCE: United States War Department. THE WAR OF THE REBELLION: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.
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