Monday, November 9, 2009

Neglect of the Wounded

A correspondent of the Cincinnati Times, writing from Pittsburg on the 12th, thus speaks in reference to the treatment of our wounded:

The horror of horrors connected with this battle, is the treatment of the wounded. In the first place, there were poor facilities for treating them; and in the second place, there were not a fifth enough surgeons to attend to them. I would gladly draw a veil over the horrors on this point, but duty to our gallant volunteers, demands that the truth be told. A large number of the wounded had crawled or been carried to the bluff opposite the Landing, on Sunday and Monday. Some found the shelter of tents, but others lay out in the open air. There those men lay, without a surgeon or attendant, without a mouthful to eat or drink, until Wednesday morning.

They groaned and died with no one near to pity them, and the dead and the dying lay there together. On Wednesday morning one surgeon was sent to them, and one attendant with hard crackers and water! And that was their treatment until they either died or were conveyed to one of the boats which presently came to the relief of the wounded.

If spirits of the heroic dead could return to earth, the shades of the murdered wounded of the battle of Pittsburg, should haunt the halls of Congress day and night. I say murdered, for with an efficient medical department, hundreds who are now dead or will die, would have been saved to their friends and their country.

At present, nearly a week after the battle, many of the wounded are not fully cared for. They are lying about in tents, upon straw, with no nourishment, and exposed to the weather. Several boat loads have been shipped away: but still many, very many, are here. I now write in the cabin of the Tycoon, with four rows of them in front of me.

Our boat, the first one of the Cincinnati Sanitary Commission, arrived at three o’clock. By eight o’clock her cabin, her guards, and her decks, were filled with the wounded. How thankful the poor fellows were when laid on soft beds, between clean sheets, and stimulated by nourishing diet. They forgot their wounds, their pains and hurts, and laid down and sweetly slept.

– Published in The Athens Messenger, Athens, Ohio, Thursday, April 24, 1862

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