View Full Version : Ambulance Corps

04-09-2008, 11:16 AM
I recently did a bit of reseach into the papers of Surgeon Edward Lloyd Howard, PACS and shared these with Noah at Harper's Ferry a couple weeks ago. He suggested I transcribe them and make them available here. This is the first of them, a circular from Medical Director Hunter McGuire regarding badges for the Ambulance Corps.

Hd Qrs 2nd Army Corps

Med : Department

April 13, 1863


I send you to day 150 Badges for the Ambulance Corps of your command. You will distribute them to the Regimental & Battalion Surgeons and instruct them when a battle or an affair with the enemy becomes imminent to issue them to the Ambulance Drivers and men detailed to remove the wounded from the field. With the number sent you will be able to give to each Regiment or Battalion 15 Badges for the detailed men (varying number however according to the size of the Battalion) leaving 50 to be used by the ambulance drivers and to provide for losses. They should be worn served to the front part of the crown of the hat, and if practicable have upon them some mark by which the Ambulance Corps of your command can be distinguished from others of this command.

When the Battle is over and the detailed men sent back to their Regiments & Battalions, the Regimental Medical Officers should collect these badges from the men and keep them until occasion again calls for their use.

As the Lieut Genl Commanding will issue orders prohibiting, all officers & man not wearing these badges from assisting in the removal of the wounded, you will enjoin upon the Med: Officers of your command the importance of providing for each one of the Ambulance Corps one of these badges.

I am Dr.

Very Respectfully

Your Obt Servt

Hunter McGuire
Chf Surgn Howard

Med: Director
Artillery Corps

2nd Corps

04-14-2008, 08:52 AM

I am also quite interested in that badge. Val Giles mentions it, regarding one of the detailed men of the 4th Texas, but doesn't describe it.

We know of the armbands that were worn, and I am also aware of this badge, but I haven't been able to pin it down (pardon the pun) as to just what it looked like.


04-14-2008, 09:58 AM
That's because the armbands are actually to be worn on the hat, from what I understand.

04-14-2008, 01:24 PM

I had heard that as well, however I have yet to find the documentation to back that up. Giles refers to simply a "red badge" with nothing further as to size, shape, etc.

McGuire's orders say: "They should be worn served to the front part of the crown of the hat, " which I believe preclides the badges from being identified as the ones we use as arm bands.

Anyway, that's my 2-cent's worth. I still beleive that what the orders refer to is a smaller device of some type of cloth, especoally since it is refered to as a "badge".


04-14-2008, 05:53 PM

Are there any orders or circulars prescribing the wear of an ambalance corps "armband"?

04-27-2008, 07:14 PM
The following comes from LTC Fremantle's "Three Months in the Southern States" pg 238:

All were well shod and efficiently clothed. In rear of each regiment
were from twenty to thirty negro slaves, and a certain number of unarmed men carrying stretchers and wearing in their hats the red badges of the ambulance corps;—this is an excellent institution, for it prevents unwounded men falling out on pretence of taking wounded to the rear.

His account is contemporary with the circular issued by Dr. McGuire and gives the additional description of the badge being red in color, which also concurs with the surving artifact claimed by may to be an armband.

04-27-2008, 07:29 PM

HWIW, doesn't it seem to you that, if it were indeed what we call an armband, that he would have talked about a red band about their hat/cap, rather than just a badge?

That's what throws me off here. To me, a "badge" is similar to the Federal Corps Badges, especially if it is to be worn on the headgear. A red disc, perhaps, or a square of red cloth, something that would fit easily onto the front or side of a hat or cap like a corps badge.

It just seems to me that the "authorutues" would not hase used such a large amount of red material to create these badges if they were to be worn on the headgear.

The problem is that so many records of the medical department were lost in Richmond during the fire. I've been looking to see what else I can locate, but my time has been rather restricted of late and I won't really be able to do the research i want to do until school lets out.

Anyway, I am NOT arguing against this "badge" being the "armband" but rather having trouble picturing it in my mind as to why so much effort. It would have been easiser to make those half-round sections that are currently off-white, out of red material and stencil them with white paint and issue those to go on the front of the cap.

A conundrim, to be sire :)