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1863 December 22: Dr. A. D. Andrews’ Plight

December 22, 2013

This is a letter written on December 22, 1863, to Dr. A. D. Andrews, after he was mustered out “on order” on November 10, 1863.  The letter was written by Rufus R. Dawes, lieutenant colonel of Andrews’ old regiment—the 6th Wisconsin Infantry—in response to a request for help by Andrews.  There apparently was some confusion during and after the Battle of Gettysburg as to where Andrews was, and he is seeking Dawes’ help in getting several months’ worth of pay.

Interesting to note that Andrews is seeking help from his former lieutenant colonel, whom he appears to have had a good relationship with, compared to Robert C. Murphy’s route for redress.  Murphy’s problem was with General Ulysses S. Grant, so he is seeking help directly from President Abraham Lincoln, having already failed to get help through the military.

The original letter is in the A. D. Andrews Papers (River Falls SC 357), in the University Archives and Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

H. Q. 6th Wis. Vol’s
Dec. 22nd 1863

Dear Doctor,

                          I received your letter to night and lose no time in my reply.  Doubtless though incorrect information, you are under some misapprehension of the facts in regard to your muster, and I report exceedingly how apparently misunderstood my connection with your present embarrassments.  Our relations have always been very pleasant, and I deem it due to the old friendship that you should have a correct history of the matter as the records will show it.

You remember I saw you on the morning of the fourth of July, and came to your house to be sent to be sent to the Hospital when you were on duty.  You were quite unwell and I thought unfit for duty.  On the morning of the 5th we marched, and continued marching without intermission until we reached South Mountain when Col. Bragg¹ joined us and took command.  During this march I made no report of the absence of any of the surgeons further than to apply for medical help in the anticipated battle.  Col. Bragg remained in command remained in command until the Reg’t crossed the Potomac.  Then came another week of continuous marching, and to the best of my recollection no reports were called for or made concerning absent officers.  Toward the close of the month (July) Dr. Hurd,² as I was officially informed, reported certain surgeons as properly detailed at Gettysburg and others then as “absent without leave.”  This caused an order from Corps H.Q. directing you, as among the latter class, to return to the Reg’t.  Most unfortunately your illness prevented you from complying, or communicating with us before the close of the month, and of course there was no alternative on the monthly except to take the report of the Medical Director of this Corps.

The Regiment was mustered for pay for July and August by Col. Bragg.  The Reg’t was mustered also by the Col. for Sept. and Oct., not by me as you seem to to [sic] have supposed in both cases.

I mean always to base my official action upon convictions of duty but would gladly have waived any technicality to secure you the pay so hardly³ earned and so justly yours, and did  carry you along as other surgeons from the division until expressly ordered to the contrary.

I have always regarded your case as one of peculiar hardship and injustice.  I never doubted that you had as much authority, and for more reason to remain at Gettysburg, than many other surgeons who land “position, pay and reputation.”  One of the few surgeons who came voluntarilly [sic] into that deadly storm of bullets at the Seminary, the front line of the most desperate fighting of the day, to help our suffering boys, you deserved better things.

I will gladly comply with your request and render all the assistance in my power to secure your pay.  I am just detailed for two day’s picket, and immediately upon the expiration of my time will give your matter attention.  I trust this will be in season.

There is some probability of the Reg’t re-organizing as Veteran Volunteers.

Hoping your health will be recovered, and that you will find less difficulty than you anticipate in securing all of your pay.

I am yours truly
. . . . . . . . . .R. R. Dawes

Doctor A. D. Andrews

1.  The first colonel of the 6th Wisconsin Infantry was Lysander Cutler, who was promoted to brigadier general in late 1862. The second colonel was Edward S. Bragg, from Fond du Lac. He started as captain of Company E, quickly became the regiment’s major in September of 1861 and lieutenant colonel in June 1862. Bragg was wounded at Antietam. He will be promoted to brigadier general in June 1864 and will muster out in October 1865.
2.  Dr. Hurd was the Medical Director of the First Corps.
3.  As used here this means “hard-earned” rather than “barely-earned.”

Letter from R.R. Dawes, December 22, 1863, from the A.D. Andrews Papers (River Falls SC 357) in the University Archives & Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Letter from R.R. Dawes, December 22, 1863, from the A.D. Andrews Papers (River Falls SC 357) in the University Archives & Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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