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Surgeon C. F. H. Campbell's Report

A Surgeon's report on the Campaign

[author biography]

Nothing worthy of note marked the period from the 1st to the 14th of September, between which dates we had fallen back on the defences of Washington, and marched through Maryland to South Mountain, beyond Middletown where we encountered Lee's army in force, drawn up on a long range of hills, completely commanding every approach to his position. This battle commenced with artillery at long range, every approach to their position being thoroughly swept by the rebel artillery. The casualties were numerous from this arm at the part of the field where I was engaged, viz., the extreme right.

Such of the wounded as could not at once be transported to the rear were attended on the field. No operation of importance took place at this time or place which the writer witnessed. Numerous temporary hospitals were established at eligible points in the vicinity of the field; but the majority of the wounded were taken to Middletown, some three or four miles to the rear, where all the churches and many private buildings had been converted into hospitals. The transportation was not such as might have been desired. It was, however, good considering the circumstances. The supplies of food and soups in the immediate vicinity of the field were scanty, but most abundant supplies were obtained in Middletown, where the kindness and devotion of the inhabitants were most touching, and worthy of lasting and honorable record. I was engaged in the line of duty in this town during the 15th and part of the 16th ...

[At Antietam on the 17th] ... the carnage was fearful among the rebel troops on the right, the only portion of the field the writer witnessed; whilst our casualties consisted mainly in wounded, the majority of whom were shot in the lower extremities, or from the waist down: the reverse being the case among the rebel wounded. I would here pay a well-merited tribute to the indefatigable zeal and ability of Surgeon Letterman of the Army, Medical Director of the forces, whose arrangements for the wounded were astonishingly systematized and perfected, considering the magnitude of the field. The wounded from this greatest battle of modern times were scattered in buildings everywhere contiguous to the field. The principal hospitals, however, were established at Boonsboro, Middletown, Hagerstown, Smoketown, Keedysville, Sharpsburg, Knoxville, and Harper's Ferry. I was on duty at Keedysville, a few miles removed from the field, for two days, engaged in perfecting arrangements for the reception of the wounded, and superintending the reception and distribution of supplies.

My health failing me after nearly three months constant excitement and fatigue, produced by active operations in the field, I was relieved by special orders from headquarters, and assigned to duty in Frederick, Maryland, as medical director of transportation of sick and wounded. Whilst on this duty, I superintended the reception of all cases arriving from the above hospitals, their distribution to the Frederick hospitals, and their transportation by rail to the large cities. During the period of my service at this post, I sent six thousand three hundred and sixty-two wounded and sick soldiers to Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. Of this number, three thousand three hundred and twenty-nine were sent to Washington, D. C., one thousand three hundred and fifty-six to Baltimore, Maryland, and one thousand six hundred and seventy-seven to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. These men were transported in the ordinary freight cars, except in one or two rare instances, the bottoms of the cars being covered with straw or hay, care being taken to prevent over-crowding, and to classify the cases as much as possible. I have yet to learn that any evil consequences resulted, in any one instance, to the men from being thus transported. My other duties at Frederick were divided between attendance on sick and wounded officers, of whom I attended seventy-two, and the duties of the office of the medical director.


Source: Second Extract from a Narrative of his Services in the Medical Staff, MSHWR 1


1   Barnes, Joseph K., and US Army, Office of the Surgeon General, The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, 6 books, Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1870, Part. 1, Vol. 1, Appendix, pg. 106  [AotW citation 19736]


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