PDA

View Full Version : Bugling for sick call



hanktrent
06-24-2008, 11:35 AM
Who actually initiates the order for sick call to be played? It sounds like a dumb question, but I can't find an official answer.

Is the time set by the field officer in charge, and the bugler takes it upon himself to play the call each day at that time?

If the time needs changed for practical reasons such as often would occur at reenactments--being on the march, enemy nearby, etc.--who actually notifies the bugler? Does the surgeon explain the problem to the field officer who makes the decision and tells the bugler? Does the surgeon ever address the bugler directly?

And as a seperate question, does the call mean that the men should begin heading toward their sergeant in camp, or does it mean that they should actually be there? I'm guessing it's a warning for them to begin, so the sergeant doesn't actually leave for the surgeon's tent until the sick men are assembled with him in his camp, which might be several minutes after the bugle call sounds, right?

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

hta1970
06-24-2008, 12:15 PM
Hank,

The standing orders for Andrews' Battalion, 2nd Corps Artillery, Army of Northern Virginia, specified that sick call was to be conduced at 8am. The standing order is published in Andrews' Manual of Artillery Drill. It seems the battalion commander specified the time in this case. Whether or not this was with the input of suggestion of the medical department of the battalion is unclear.

As for what other units did, I have seen no definative writings.

In the case of At High Tide, sick call has been set at 7am.

I am interested to hear more on this subject.

RJSamp
06-24-2008, 02:56 PM
Who actually initiates the order for sick call to be played? It sounds like a dumb question, but I can't find an official answer.

Is the time set by the field officer in charge, and the bugler takes it upon himself to play the call each day at that time?

If the time needs changed for practical reasons such as often would occur at reenactments--being on the march, enemy nearby, etc.--who actually notifies the bugler? Does the surgeon explain the problem to the field officer who makes the decision and tells the bugler? Does the surgeon ever address the bugler directly?

And as a seperate question, does the call mean that the men should begin heading toward their sergeant in camp, or does it mean that they should actually be there? I'm guessing it's a warning for them to begin, so the sergeant doesn't actually leave for the surgeon's tent until the sick men are assembled with him in his camp, which might be several minutes after the bugle call sounds, right?

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

The bugler of the day (or THE bugler for the Regiment) would be hovering around HQ. The Adjutant basically tells him when to sound the calls, or hands him a schedule. Surgeon's/Officer's being a different 'class' of human's they probably would never talk to the bugler directly (unless of course the bugler was ill himself)...leave that to the Adjutant. For all you and I know the Surgeon and the Colonel decided to have sick call at such and such a time....and the Adjutant makes sure that the bugler sounds the call at the anointed hour. Sick Call (in Camp, not on the march) was sounded at the end of each company street in the big regiments. Surgeon, Sergeant Major, Bugler would make the rounds of each of ten streets. Ostensibly the 'patients' are too sick to march over to HQ or the Hospital. The Surgeon culls out the shirkers, the quinine / blue mass patients, from the truly ill (i.e. the ones that need to go to the hospital).

30 minutes after Breakfast is a good rule of thumb.... 30 minutes after each served meal a better rule of thumb.

Billings has a good description of this, but beware, he's an artillerist.

hanktrent
06-25-2008, 10:28 AM
Thank you! Going through the adjutant is exactly the information I was looking for.


Sick Call (in Camp, not on the march) was sounded at the end of each company street in the big regiments. Surgeon, Sergeant Major, Bugler would make the rounds of each of ten streets. Ostensibly the 'patients' are too sick to march over to HQ or the Hospital.

I got curious about that, because at reenactments I've always seen the men marched to the surgeon, not vice versa.

In both Kautz and Duffield, the men go to the surgeon.

Kautz: "they fall in and are marched to the hospital by a non-commissioned officer..."

Duffield: "At the sick call (or Surgeon's call) the sick then in the companies are conducted to the hospital by one of the Sergeants..."

Handbook for the Military Surgeon (http://books.google.com/books?pg=PA5&id=S3Y-AAAAIAAJ&output=html) isn't as explicit, but also implies it's done at the surgeon's tent or hospital:

"At the surgeon's call, a medical officer, to be designated by the surgeon, repairs promptly to the hospital tent, to examine and prescribe for the sick."

I wonder in what circumstances the surgeon went to the men vs. the other way?


30 minutes after Breakfast is a good rule of thumb.... 30 minutes after each served meal a better rule of thumb.

Is that a comment on army cooking? :)

Kautz says "Surgeonís Call,or Sick Call, sounds usually early in the morning before breakfast call." Don't know when breakfast call will be during AHT, but I'm thinking this could get complicated, if I'm both clerking and cooking for the surgeon, and I need to keep records for him during sick call at the same time I'm cooking breakfast to be served afterward. :)


On a separate topic, here's something I didn't know before. On the march, the surgeon's call is done in the evening, not the morning, according to the above Handbook for the Military Surgeon.


Upon marches, the surgeon's call is usually sounded as soon as the hospital tent, appropriated to the supplies, is pitched and arranged, at the close of the day's march.

Haven't been to many campaign events as military, but I don't recall seeing that done.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

RJSamp
06-25-2008, 12:39 PM
You are correct. The Surgeon's Call is sounded by the bugler from the HQ/Guard area (wherever he is on duty). The First Sergeant's from each company gather up the sick who are still in the company area (they may be in the hospital already, doh!) and accompany them to the Hospital Tent(s)/Area. The Surgeon meets the sick at the Hospital, culls out the shirkers / simple prescription (quinine, blue mass, et al) from the very sick......and the First Sergeant brings the former back to the company street.

The beauty of a bugle call system is that the TIME need not be specified. When the call is sounded, the First Sergeant's round up the sick and marches to the Hospital system. Doesn't matter whether it's before or after a meal, not at precisely 7:30 AM, and who know's when the hospital tent has been set up on a march (if the wagon's have even caught up!). The truly sick probably wouldn't have been able to complete the march(!?) to report to sick call at the recently set up hospital tent.....having fallen by the way side and already been picked up 'in the wagons' for transport to the 'hospital'.

Good stuff Hank, thanks for correcting me!