No. 24. Report of Captain John G. Pelton, Fourteenth Connecticut Infantry, Chief of Ambulances.1
HEADQUARTERS SECOND ARMY CORPS,
OFFICE CHIEF OF AMUBLANCES,
April 20, 1865.
DOCTOR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Ambulance Corps, Second Army Corps, during the recent successful campaign:
On the evening of March 27  orders were received to be ready to move at 6 o’clock on the following morning, the 28th [29th], with one-half of the ambulances of each division, one medical wagon and one army wagon to each brigade, and one additional wagon to each division for the transportation of forage. The trains were ordered to follow in rear of their respective divisions. The balance of the trains of the corps were ordered to be parked near the Cummings house, all to be
in charge of Lieutenant McCarthy, of the First Division train. His instructions were to report to the chief quartermaster of the corps and accompany the general trains.
On the morning of the 28th [29th] the trains moved out on the Vaughan road in accordance with the orders received. Upon arriving at Humphreys’ Station it was found that the corps had not as yet moved out; consequently the trains were parked in the open field near the station until the troops moved out, when it was found, at the crossing of Hatcher’s Run, that it would be impracticable for the trains to follow in rear of their division, as the roads were narrow and it was not exactly known how soon the enemy would be found, and at the request of Major-General Humphreys the trains were halted and parked in an open field on the north bank of the river until the corps had crossed. The stretcher men, however, all crossed with their commands. On the 29th [30th] the trains were ordered to cross, and, in accordance with orders, parked at a place known as the “Three Chimneys,” where a hospital was established. During its stay at this place all the drivers were engaged in building roads to the front.
On the evening of the 30th [29th] orders were received to send twenty ambulances to assist the Fifth Corps in removing their wounded. Lieutenant Lillibridge, of the Second Division train, was detailed to take command of the twenty-one ambulances that went to the Fifth Corps, assisted by a sergeant from each division train. Lieutenant Lillibridge reached the Fifth Corps hospital a little before daylight on the morning of the 31st [30th], and loaded his ambulances and proceeded to Humphreys’ Station. After unloading the wounded he rejoined his command on the evening of the 31st [30th]. During the afternoon of the 31st Lieutenant Callanen, of the Second Division train, received orders from Doctor McParlin, medical director, Army of the Potomac, to remove the wounded of the cavalry, which were at that time in the Second Division hospital. For this purpose seventeen ambulances were sent to Humphreys’ Station. In the meantime orders were given him that if he needed more ambulances to send for his reserve train, which he did. During this day the First Division was engaged with the enemy. Ambulances were sent to the front and the wounded were conveyed to the hospitals which were established near the Vaughan road. During this day twenty-four ambulances of the First Division were sent to Warren’s Station with wounded, under the charge of Lieutenant Clark, First Division ambulance corps. Lieutenant Paxton, of the First Division train, also took ten of the First Division, nine of the Second Division, and sixteen of the Third Division loaded with wounded to Warren’s Station.
April 1, Lieutenant Clark reported back with his train, which had been to the station, and from thence followed the division with nine ambulances. On this day Lieutenant Chase, of the First Division, joined the command with twenty-four ambulances, four medical wagons, and five army wagons; Lieutenant Chase having been on leave of absence. Lieutenant Paxton also joined the command with the train he had taken to Warren’s Station.
April 2, the First Division was heavily engaged, and the train employed in removing the wounded to the hospital which had been established at the Moody house. Lieutenant Paxton followed the division with nine ambulances to the Sullivan house, near the South Side Railroad, and the whole night was employed in carrying wounded of the First Division from the Moody and Sullivan houses to the Boydton plank road.
April 3, Lieutenant Chase, with eight ambulances and the hospital train, joined the division at the Sullivan house and followed the troops. Lieutenant Clar, with the remaining thirty-five ambulances and ten of the Third Division loaded with wounded, left the hospital for Warren’s Station. The roads being very several animals died on the march from exhaustion.
April 4, the remaining train followed in the rear of the corps, heavily laded with sick.
April 5, the trains followed the corps with sick; no wounded to take up on this day.
April 6, broke camp at daylight, and followed the troops near to Amelia Springs, where they became engaged with the enemy. The trains were immediately ordered to the Springs. The wounded of the First and Third Divisions were brought to the Springs house by the stretcher-bearers until the ambulances to the front on account of the deemed proper to send many ambulances to the front on account of the road being narrow and on each side dense woods, and in case of a retrograde movement of the troops the train would, of course, be in the way; therefore they remained at the Springs house until the troops had advanced some miles, when the First and Third Division were engaged with the enemy. The Second Division being on the extreme right and finding no enemy, the train of the Second Division was not engaged, therefore they were ordered to assist the First and Third Divisions in removing their wounded, which they did. The corps having advanced several miles, it was found that the number of ambulances present was not adequate to the demand, consequently a hospital was established for the Second and Third Divisions at the Vaughan house, which relieved the ambulances and stretchermen very materially. The corps still advanced, and at night encamped near Sailor’s Creek. The trains bringing the wounded from Amelia Springs parked near corps headquarters.
On the 7th Lieutenant Clark, of the First Division train, was ordered to proceed with twenty-seven ambulances loaded with wounded to Burkeville Junction. There were also fifteen ambulances of the Second Division sent to Burkeville with wounded of the Third Division, and all of the ambulances but seven of the Third Division were sent to Burkeville with wounded. Upon arriving at High Bridge quite a number of wounded were found belonging to the Second Division. Here nine ambulances were loaded and ordered to join the train which had started for Burkeville about half an hour before; the remainder of the train followed the corps. Upon advancing about a mile beyond the Brooks house the First Division became engaged with the enemy, as also did the Third Division. During the day a hospital was established at the Brooks house and the wounded were speedily removed to the hospital, in consideration of the number of ambulances we had to work with, the greater portion being moved by the stretchermen, who deserve great credit for their courage and endurance, this being the fourth day they had been without rations, which was not the fault of the ambulance officers or the commissary department. The supply train did not have sufficient amount of rations to issue to all detachments; therefore the ambulance corps was left to take care of itself, which it did in a very creditable manner.
April 8, having left quite a number of wounded at the Vaughan house, we were informed that the Ninth Corps ambulances were ordered to assist us in removing them, whereupon Lieutenant Crawley, of the Second Division train, was ordered to High Bridge to meet them and
conduct them to the above-mentioned house. Upon his arrival at High Bridge nothing could be found of them, but after running about the country for an hour he succeeded in finding them. In the meantime all the ambulances except eleven of the corps were loaded with the wounded which were at the Brooks house and sent to Burkeville, Lieutenant Clark, First Division, in charge. On this day Lieutenant T. C. Chase, Twenty-sixth Michigan, commanding First Division ambulance train, was relieved from duty with the train on the grounds of incompetency.
On the 9th the hospital train, with eleven ambulances, was ordered to follow in rear of the corps. The march this day was not severe, the trains having scarcely moved out of park before a halt was ordered, it having been announced that General R. E. Lee had surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Lieutenant General U. S. Grant.
On the 10th a train was made up and loaded with sick and a few wounded and went to Burkeville. Lieutenant Page, of the Second Division train, took charge, and was ordered to remain at the station until the corps arrived there.
On the 11th took up our line of march toward New Store, the ambulances and hospital train following in rear of the corps.
On the 12th marched from New Store to Farmville, trains following in the same order as the day previous.
The 13th marched from Farmville to Old Burkeville.
On the 14th selected camp for the trains, the blacksmith and carpenters being engaged in repairing the trains, which were very much in need of repairs.
There is nothing of importance to record from the 14th to the 20th, except that the trains are being put in serviceable condition as rapidly as possible, and are now ready for service.
Second Lieutenant James H. Griggs, One hundred and twenty-sixth New York Volunteers, commanding ambulances First Division; Second Lieutenant Clark, First Division; Lieutenant Callanen, One hundred and sixty-fourth New York Volunteers, commanding ambulances Second Division; Lieutenant J. R. Pancoasts, commanding ambulances Third Division; Lieutenant Painter, Third Division, and the stretchermen of the entire command deserve great credit for the untiring energy displayed in the speedy removal of the wounded. The following is a list of casualties and losses during the campaign:*
I am, doctor, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN G. PELTON,
Captain and Chief of Ambulances, Second Army Corps.
Surg. CHARLES PAGE, U. S. Army,
Medical Director, Second Army Corps.
*Shows 1 man wounded, 30 horses and mules died, and 1 ambulance abandoned.
- The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XLVI, Part 1 (Serial Number 95), pp. 706-709 ↩