View Full Version : Ambulance Corps

07-01-2008, 12:43 AM
For those who didn't make it to At High Tide. I thought I'd give a little information.

I was assigned as acting Surgeon to 2nd Brigade. These were boys from Stonewal Brigade, Pridgeon's Shenandoah Legion, Army of Tennessee, and Medich's Battalion. The Liberty Hall Fife and Drum were also there along with some boys from the Lazy Jacks Mess from the UK.

Each company was to assign 1 man to the ambulance corps for each battle. Saturday morning this allowed us to have 2 litter teams of 4 men.

Hank Trent was serving as my orderly for the weekend. If anyone wants to know what an orderly should do, he is the man to ask. First rate service, great penmanship, **** of a cook, and ready to solve any problem I sent his way.

saturday morning we conducted sick call at 7am but no men reported so we filled a report stating that to the brigade adjutant.

We took to the field and the men of the Ambulance Corps got a real taste of some very hard work loading men onto litters and carrying them through chest high weeds through a creekbed to my dressing station and loading them on the ambulance. At one point when the brigade was pushed back, the retreating infantry ran into one litter team struggling through the creek echoing the confusion of battle and we were forced to leave some mortally wounded behind as we pulled back.

During our second advance I was taken aback at the large numbers or dead and wounded on both sides littering the field as far as I could see. We overtook the federal army and even overran one of ther dressing stations where one of their assistant surgeons was treating his wounded and low on drugs. I made sure to give one of his patients, the Colonel of the 2nd Wisconsin some pain relief fot his wound before directing a private to escort him to our rear for a later exchange. We also removed a federal Captain or Major for the same purpose. With so many dead dying and wounded it was about all we could do to remove those with wounds we could probably save and get names, unit and nature of the wound and provide pain relief for the dying. The only easily dosable drug I had were opium pills which I dispensed in large numbers. Laudnum, Hoffman's Anodyne or even Morphine Sulphate would have taken too long to dispense with any accuracy give the numbers of wounded and the fact the battle was still being waged as we work upon the field.

We were covering extremely large distances and out ambulance corps badges worn on the hats allowed me to keep track of my men at all times and in andy direction. 1st Brigade wore cloth strips on their arms so I knew which belong to which brigade. We both had red flags to mark the dressing station and with them being slightly different (1st Brigade was a proper flag and my brigade 2nd was a yard of red wool flannel tied to the end of a long stick) made it easy to identify each brigades dressing station.

After the battle there were no patients so we were left to prepare casualty reports which we turned over to the bridgade adjutant and sent to division in a consolidated report with 1st brigade.

As Saturday evenings action was cancelled do to lightning we were without patients from the end of Saturday mornings battle until Sunday mornings battle.

Sunday at the 7am sick call, no men reported but the adjutant invited me to visit the men in camps. I called upon each company and enquired upon their health. One man in the brigade had bowel issues and was precribed Compound Cathatic pills to be taken immediately and returned to duty. A report was fillied with the battalion Adjutant and the prescription noted in my prescription book.

There was a severe shortage of Ambulance Corps volunteers Sunday. So the 1st Brigade Surgeon and myself worked together. We would switch back and forth between the different brigades as each one moved forward. This put us in the Wheatfield behind the men and forced a hasty retreat at one point. The litter bearers were forced to manuver around and through a brigade waiting in reserve at the back of the Wheatfield which was a bit of a tricky maneuver.

Hank and myself even managed to capture 3 federal musicians who we found cut off from their unit.

We then surged forward again trating wounded all the way up as the Confederate line advanced upon cemetary ridge encountering both musket and artillery wounds. We found many of the wounded in need of relief from pain and helped the men get access to their canteens and filled the cups of men who had no water. Once again opium pills were dispensed in large numbers and names, unit and the nature of the wounds were collected.

As the event broke ended slightly after the end of this engagement we had no patients after the battle and both brigades filled casualty report and also one for the division.

For medical supplies we had my haversack with a few drugs, paperwork and my instrument case. Hank carried a haversack of dressings (which we did not have time to apply given the speed of evacuation and the sheer numbers we were treating and had to treat), a medical canteen and a pencil and paper to collect names, units and the nature of the wound. We had a fly tent for our brigade hopspital under which Hank and I slept with the absence of patients.

I had a chance to meet Trevor Steinbach of this forum whose hospital was right oposite mine and would love to read his impressions and activities of the engagements and sick calls as well if he has a chance to share them with the forum.

07-01-2008, 09:05 AM
Gents, this is how it's done.

Bully!! For the pre-event effort, the onsite effort, and the writing up afterward.

07-01-2008, 09:57 AM
A few questions sir. What type of ambulance were you using? Where did you find it and do you have any pictures? Thanks for the AAR, it sounds like it was a fantastic event. Mike

Hardtack Herring
07-01-2008, 10:43 AM
Mike there are plenty of pictures of the Ambulance Corps in action at the event at www.myspace.com/csfieldmusic.

Fallow the link and select pics.

If I remember correctly they Built the ambulance a year or two ago. It is very very cool.

07-01-2008, 11:11 AM
Excellent, Thank You. Mike

07-01-2008, 11:37 AM
I can't really add much to what Harry said. He summed it up well. I only wished we'd had more time to actually do an ambulance corps impression, since as I said to him afterwards, we had to try to do in sixty minutes what they did in six hours or more.

But Sunday's battle was my favorite, because it covered so much ground that we could be a realistic distance behind the lines while the battle was still going on.

It's funny how little things make a big impression.

Harry wins the prize for doing something that only one other person has done for me, in 18 years of reenacting. During the following incident, he treated me like a 19th century person, which is what I attend events for, rather than a 21st century person without common sense.

During a break in the battle, I sat down and started drinking from my canteen. He turned to me and sharply warned me, just like a 19th century doctor, not to drink so much water when it was so hot. Absolutely perfect period advice in that situation. I stopped and said that I knew it wasn't good for me, but I was so thirsty and couldn't help it, but I'd try not to. Obviously, as soon as he turned his back, I finished drinking my fill.

But at that moment, after all the hard work I put in trying to take care of my health, I felt I'd finally earned the right to be treated like a 19th century person and be given period health advice. It absolutely made my day.

Hank Trent

07-01-2008, 11:44 AM
Mike there are plenty of pictures of the Ambulance Corps in action at the event at www.myspace.com/csfieldmusic (http://www.myspace.com/csfieldmusic).

The ambulance belongs to John Novicki at http://www.thefieldhospital.com/800.htm where he has research on it, and it's entirely his baby. My wife also took some pictures as a modern spectator, and they're at http://cw186165.homestead.com/AHTAmbulance.html (http://cw186165.homestead.com/AHTAmbulance.html)

Hank Trent

07-01-2008, 11:52 AM

I remember that back on the tree line after our retreat from Willoughby Run while we were reorganizing for the next advance. Wasn't trying to do anything other than give you good 19th century medical advice. Heck good advice for today also. Had no idea you disregarded doctors orders behind my back, but your great service and excellent cooking made up for that!


If you want to do Ambulance Corps as a driver, John mentioned he wants to add one and possibly two more ambulances if he can find dedicaded drivers. He is willing to teach anyone how to drive and I know would be thrilled with any interested parties. This event was the first time he actually carried patients, two boys wounded in the first engagement at Willoughby Run. I think they enjoyed the experience and the wild ride.

Marylander in grey
07-02-2008, 10:10 PM
I had the distinct honor to serve as the Assistant Surgeon for General Andrew Dangles 1st Brigade.
Friday evening was hectic setting up, meetings with the Confederate and Federal Commanders.
Harry Aycock and I met and dicussed several potential senerios we would face. Harry was set up at the Divisional Headquarters, I was set up with the 1st Brigade Staff area.
Saturday morning sick call was sounded by drum in our Brigade area and as with Harry I had no takers.
There was some confussion as to the Ambulance Attendants, there were supposed to be on detailed from each Company. The CMF (my Parent Command) provided three men, the CVG provided two men and the ANV assigned one man.
General Dangle just prior to the Willoughby Run senerio ordered more men to be detailed to the Ambulance Corps. This led to a logistics issue as these men were under arms and there extensive casualties to evacuate as well as secured thier arms and accouterments.
I chose to identify my attendants by using red strips of wool as arm bands where as Harry's men had hat bands.
My Orderly was Pvt Curtis Dodd of the 10th Alabama, he was the ripe old age of 15 years. Curtis served admirably in his post and with an unusual sence of duty.
He copied my original reports and corespondence in triplicate, ensured our Knapsack was stocked and ready for engagement at all times. Delivered requests for supplies to headquarters and ensured our Attendents were prepared for thier duties.
Sunday morning we had a busy Sick Call, the 1st Sergant presented us with 4 men whos new shoes had eaten the Dermious from thier feet. We had a busy morning applying badages to toes and heals. To assist with the comfort we applied some small squares of felt over the blisters, A small dose of Opiate eased thier discomfort. The men were much amused that the Colonel of one of the Battalions suffered from the same affliction to the greatest degree.
As with Harry we were short handed on Sunday although I had all the Ambulance attendents, so Harry and I decided to work togeather, we covered both Brigades which allowed us to meet even more people.
In the wheat feild we have even had a Federal Private that was captured who spoke French with absolutely no English, his pards asked us to shoot him so as to quite his ramblings as none of them spoke French.
Fortunatly we were close to some Louisianna Troops and I thank them for thier interpitations.
I had the pleasure of doing a minor surgical prceedure during a lull in the Peach Orchard. A Private found himself caught by a thorn bush, which had left him a reminder of its intent to be left alone.
I used a teniculium, and olive point arterial forceps in an attempt to remove the thorn, being completely out of Medicines the Private was braced by his pards.
Post battle there were reports to write and submit in triplicate.
All in all this was an interesting expierience as my normal impression is in the Surgical Theater, I gained valuable insite in to how to evacuated the wounded.
The Ambulance provided excellent service and my hats off to Driver John Novicki.
I would like to encourage those engaged in battle to stay on the field post battle to allow us to evacuate, and treat some wounded.
I rolled 100 linen bandages and used 25.
Christian Fisher
Surgeon CMF

Regular DOC
07-05-2008, 06:04 PM

To bad I didn't get a chance to meet you. I was doing infantry this past weekend but I was originally teained as a surgeon by Doc Trevor. I will be joining him at Chickamauga as a Surgeon.

Brian Schwatka