Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Returning to the Army: The Invalid Corps

From: nlm.nih.gov

The Invalid Corps was established by the federal government in 1863 to employ disabled veterans in war-related work. Soldiers were divided up into two battalions, based on the extent of their injuries. The first carried weapons and fought in combat. The second, made up of men with more serious impairments, served as nurses, cooks, and prison guards. Despite the rigorous workload, members of the Invalid Corps (known as the “Cripple Brigade” among their former comrades ), were not offered the generous financial awards granted to re-enlisting soldiers and new recruits in the Union. Nicknamed “Inspected-Condemned” after the initials stamped on faulty goods, the Invalid Corps was renamed the Veteran Reserve Corps in 1864 to put an end to the mockery.

Alfred Bellard, a private in the 5th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry, was wounded in the battle of Chancellorsville, VA, in May 1863. His severe leg injury prevented him from returning to the regular army, so he joined the Invalid Corps instead. Bellard described the carnage of the war in his diary and included graphic illustrations of the fate of soldiers.


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