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1865 March 11: Care of Sick and Wounded Wisconsin Soldiers

March 14, 2015

The Prescott Journal of March 11, 1865, printed two articles on sick and wounded soldiers.

Care of Sick and Wounded Wisconsin Soldiers
—Report of the Governor About State Agencies.

The following message, showing what has been done under the direction of the Governor [James T. Lewis] for the relief of sick and wounded Wisconsin soldiers, was sent to the Legislature on the 1st :


To the Honorable the Legislature of the State of Wisconsin :

By chapter 354 of the General Laws of 1864, the sum of ten thousand dollars was appropriated and set apart “to be paid out upon the order of the Governor of the State, for the liquidation of all such claims as shall hereafter accrue by the authority of the Governor, in the necessary care of the sick and wounded soldiers of “Wisconsin, and for carrying such sick and wounded into this State, when the same shall be proper and necessary.”  By section three of said chapter, it is provided that the Governor shall “make out and report to the Legislature, at its next session, the amounts so expended by him, and fully in what manner such money has been expended.”  I have the honor to submit the annexed detailed statement of expenditures under said chapter, vouchers for which are on file in this office, showing amounts expended, by whom and at what time.  As to the manner of its expenditure, I have the honor to state, that seeing no more practical method of meeting the wants of the class of persons intended to be benefited by the appropriation, than by the appointment of agents whose duty it should be to visit and care for them, I selected a number of agents, giving to each certain territory, with directions to visit the fields and hospitals within prescribed limits, and to do all within their power to” alleviate suffering and aid the sick and wounded.

Section two of the chapter above alluded to, provides that “the Governor is hereby authorized to draw his order or orders upon the State Treasurer for so much money, not exceeding the sum of ten thousand dollars in all, as shall be actually necessary, &c.”

By this provision it will be seen that I could in no event draw more than ten thousand dollars.  I was under the necessity, therefore, of limiting the number of agents, and the amount to be expended by each, so as not to use in all beyond this sum.  The number of agents at present employed is five, as follows :  Mrs. C. A. P. Harvey, Geo. W. Sturges, E. L. Jones, W. Y. Selleck and D. Ostrander.  Others have been employed during the year for short periods of time as necessity seemed to demand, whose names also appear in the statement hereto annexed.  Mrs. C. A. P. Harvey has charge of hospitals from Memphis to New Orleans.  Geo. W. Sturges has charge of hospitals at St. Louis, Paducah, Mound City, Keokuk and Cairo.  E. L. Jones has charge of hospitals at Nashville, Louisville and Chattanooga.  W. Y. Selleck had, until recently, exclusive charge of hospitals at Washington, Alexandria, Philadelphia, York (Pa.), Baltimore and Annapolis ;  but the armies having been largely increased in the vicinity of Washington, I deemed it necessary to appoint another agent, and have therefore appointed D. Ostrander to assist Mr. Selleck in that department.  As will be seen by the annexed statement the amount remaining for which I am authorized to draw is small ;  probably little if any more than sufficient to pay the claims already outstanding.  I would therefore suggest that in case it is thought best to continue the employment of these agents, further appropriation be made soon, as I shall be under the necessity of discharging them within a short time unless further means are placed at my disposal to pay their expenses and furnish them with means to carry on their work.  I would further state that owing to the Increased [sic] expenses of living and traveling, it will probably be necessary to increase the pay of these agents in order to secure their services in the future.  The necessity of making larger appropriations for the future than have been made in the past, even though no larger force is employed, will therefore be apparent.  We owe it to our soldiers to use all proper means to care for them and their families.  Thus far no state has more fully performed its duty in this respect than has Wisconsin.  The thousands of dollars that have been paid from the treasury toward are sufficient evidence of the truth of this statement.

That the sanitary agents have been of great service in caring for the sick and wounded soldiers from Wisconsin, there can be no doubt.  The reports of these agents, published from time to time in the public prints, are also of great service to the whole people of the State, affording them information concerning the condition and fate of their friends in field and hospital which it would be difficult for them otherwise to obtain.  I should therefore deem it unwise to dispense with the services of these agents at the present time.

Of the agents at present employed, I will only remark, that they have proved themselves worthy.  So efficient and self-sacrificing have they been—so well have they performed their duties to the soldiers and the State, that I should regret very much to lose their services.

Owing to pressing duties in my office I have been able to visit but few of the hospitals during the past year, but intend as soon as possible after the adjournment of the Legislature to visit all hospitals where Wisconsin soldiers are to be found, with a view of procuring, as far as possible, the discharge of such soldiers as can be of no further service to the Government, and desire to be discharged, the transfer to our own State of those who can be benefited by such transfers, and of rendering such other service to the sick and wounded as may be within my power.


Vouchers accompanying the message show an expenditure of $7,710.27, mainly through State Agents, for the period from January 8th, 1864, to February 27th, 1865.

Transfers of Sick and Wounded Soldiers. 

The following communication from Col. R. C. WOOD, Ass’t Surgeon General U. S. A., to the Governor, with accompanying circular, is published for the information of soldiers in hospitals in the Western Medical Department and their friends at home. It will be seen that applications for individual transfers are useless, but that transfers will be made in all proper cases as fast as practicable and consistent with the good of the service :

Louisville, Ky., Feb. 23, 1865. }

His Excellency, James T. Lewis, Governor of Wisconsin.

SIR :  Applications for leaves of absence and transfers have become so urgent and numerous that I think proper to submit to you my views.

All applications from General Hospitals should pass through the medical officer, for the reason that they have to be returned to the hospital for a statement of the case ; this produces delay.

The directions already given by the War Department embrace leaves of absence over which I have no control ;  a certain quota of sick are given leaves of absence.

The interest of the service requires that all men not permanently sick or disabled, should be kept as near the theater of operations as possible, for obvious reasons.

I propose, and shall direct semi-monthly examinations of all the sick, not too remote, to be made.  All permanently disabled, or who will not be fit for service in sixty days, will be sent to their respective states.

This course will absorb all cases, if fit subjects, of that class of men who are now, in large numbers, applicants for individual transfers, and will save the State Executive much importunity, and this office from serious embarrassment.

The hospitals in the Western Department are now abundant, not crowded, and afford sick soldiers every facility for prompt recovery and return to duty.

I am disposed to unite with you in every effort to extend indulgences to sick soldiers, where it does not impair their efficiency, or retard their recovery.

Your obedient servant,
.                              .R. C. WOOD,
.            .Asst. Surg. Gen., U. S. A.

Louisville, Ky., Feb. 25, 1865. }

The following circular having been submitted to, and approved by the Surgeon General, is published for the information of all concerned. Its provisions will be strictly complied with.

R. C. WOOD, Asst. Surg. Gen. U. S. A.

Louisville, Ky., Feb. 25, 1865. }


Applications for individual transfers have become so numerous that it is necessary to establish the following regulations.

All applications for transfer must be made to the Medical Officer in charge of General Hospital, who will endorse his opinion in the case and then transmit to the Assistant Surgeon General through the Medical Director of the Department, or Superintendent of General Hospitals, for action.  This will expedite transfers, as individual cases have to be returned to the Surgeons in chafe, for statement of the case.

Surgeons in charge will recommend for transfer only such sick or wounded soldiers who are permanently disabled, or those who will not be available for duty in sixty days.

Surgeons in charge of General Hospitals in the Western Medical Department will, on the 1st and 15th of every month, transmit through the Medical Director of the Department or Superintendent of General Hospital, all cases which, in their opinion, come under the provisions of these regulations, for the action of the Assistant Surgeon General, who will take the most speedy measures to transfer all proper cases to their respective States.

The regulation will free the Department from the embarrassment of individual appeals, and will ensure equal justice to the friendless.

There is no authority in this office to give leaves of absence or grant furloughs.

.       .R. C. WOOD,
Asst. Surg. Gen. U. S. A.

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