Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Ambulance Corps

From nps.gov

It was thought that all arrangements had been made for the treatment of wounded on the eve of the Battle of Bull Run in July of 1861. The Union army had hired a number of civilian drivers to transport the wounded from the battlefield, but the unexpected violence with which the battle was fought soon found all of these drivers retreating back to Washington D. C.- without any patients.
Many of the wounded men were forced to walk the 30 miles back to the capital city. In early 1862, Dr. Jonathan Letterman was apointed medical director of the Army of the Potomac. He immediately began to rework the structure of of the corps. By combining the ambulances on a divisional level and training enlisted men, he ultimately created an early example of modern triage and transportation. By September 1862 the tranformation from chaos to order was complete. During the Battle of Antietam, the Ambulance Corps removed all of the 10,000 Union wounded from the battlefield to field hospitals for treatment in twenty-four hours. This success earned Letterman the title of “Father of Battlefield Medicine.”


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