Report of Surg. Lafayette Guild, C. S. Army,
Medical Director, the Army of Northern Virginia.
JUNE 3-AUGUST 1, 1863.--The Gettysburg Campaign.

O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXVII/2 [S# 44]

MEDICAL DIRECTOR'S OFFICE,
Camp near Culpeper Court-House, July 29, 1863.

Surg. Gen. S. P. MOORE,
Richmond, Va.

        SIR: At midnight, July 3, after the fiercest and most sanguinary battle ever fought on this continent, the general commanding gave orders for our army to withdraw from Gettysburg and fall back to Hagerstown. I inclose you a copy of my instructions to the corps of medical directors issued on that occasion. Every available means of transportation was called into requisition for removing the wounded from the field infirmaries, and, on the evening of the 4th, our ambulance trains took up their line of march by two routes, guarded as well as could be by our broken-down and inefficient cavalry. One train went by Cashtown, the other by Fairfield. The latter train was attacked by a body of the enemy's cavalry, who destroyed many wagons and paroled the wounded private soldiers, but taking with them all of the officers who fell into their hands. The former train was more fortunate; however, it, too, was attacked by the enemy, and met with some little loss in wagons and prisoners.
        The poor wounded suffered very much indeed in their rapid removal by day and night, over rough roads, through mountain passes, and across streams, toward the Potomac. Those who could be removed from the battle-field and infirmaries were concentrated at Williamsport, and transferred to the Virginia bank of the river, by rafts and ferry-boats, as rapidly as the swollen condition of the stream would permit.
        Since my hasty and imperfect letter of the 10th instant from the vicinity of Hagerstown, Md., I have not had time or opportunity to report to you more fully our movements. At Hagerstown, as I informed you in my last letter, we fully expected another battle, and prepared for it.
        We waited there six long days, nearly every day the two armies engaging in desultory skirmishing. When the enemy made his appearance in force, instead of attacking us, as we expected, he commenced fortifying himself all along our line of battle, his line being little less than a mile from ours.
        Our supplies for both men and animals were being rapidly exhausted, and the enemy declining battle by laying aside his muskets and taking to his picks and shovels, orders were given for us to resume our march toward the Potomac on the 13th instant. The army crossed at three points (two fords near Williamsport, very deep and bad fords, the river being swollen, at which quite a number of animals were drowned, and the pontoon bridge at Failing Waters) without molestation from the enemy, who contented himself with picking up stragglers.
        Our crossing the river without annoyance evidently shows that the enemy were very badly crippled, and could not risk another general engagement. The sufferings of the wounded were distressing. Indeed, the healthiest and most robust suffered extremely in crossing the river.
        The head of our column commenced its passage at dark on the 13th instant, and, in the afternoon of the 14th, the rear guard reached the south bank.
        On July 15, we encamped near Bunker Hill, 12 miles north of Winchester, and remained there until the 21st, refreshing the troops and removing to the rear our sick and wounded from Winchester and Jordan Springs, at which place I found about 4,000 sick and wounded, steps for their removal to Staunton being immediately taken. All who could bear transportation were gotten off by the 22d instant, less than 150 remaining at the two places.
        Mount Jackson and Harrisonburg have been used simply as wayside hospitals, where the sick and wounded were refreshed with food, and wounds redressed.
        Medical officers, with supplies of all kinds, being stationed at the two points, on the 22d the army resumed its march, the First and Third Corps taking different routes to Front Royal and Chester Gap, where they were convalesced, and the march continued to this point, where they encamped on the 25th, and are now resting after their arduous night marches through great inclemency of weather. The Second Army Corps crossed the Blue Ridge at Thornton's Gap, south of Chester Gap, and will encamp in our vicinity to-day. Considerable sickness has been the consequence of their fatigue and exposure. Diarrhea, dysentery, continued fever, and rheumatism preponderate.
        I have prohibited the establishment of a hospital at Culpeper CourtHouse, but organized a depot for the sick and wounded who cannot be treated in camp. Those who should go to general hospitals are sent with all dispatch to Gordonsville for distribution. The sick and wounded should, in my opinion, by no means be allowed to accumulate at Gordonsville. It is or may be at any time exposed to cavalry raids, and the inhuman enemy invariably, when an opportunity offers, drag our sick and wounded officers (at the sacrifice of their lives) into their own lines.
        Mount Jackson and Harrisonburg, in the Valley of the Shenandoah, should be abandoned as hospitals, as far as practicable, leaving only those patients whose lives would be endangered by transportation.
        I have ordered Surgeon {R. J.] Breckinridge, medical inspector of the army, to proceed to the hospitals near the army where our sick and wounded have been sent since the battle of Gettysburg, and to have all who are fit for duty returned to their regiments. I inclose for your information a copy of my letter of instructions to him and order from the general commanding. The list of casualties has been forwarded to my office, and embraces the whole army, with the exception of two brigades, which I have taken steps to have made out.
        Our loss at Gettysburg was very heavy, indeed, numbering about 14,000 killed and wounded. The consolidated list will be furnished you at an early day.
        At the battle of Winchester, fought by General Ewell's corps on June 13, 14, and 15, our loss was comparatively small--42 killed and 210 wounded.
        I will also forward to you very soon the list of casualties, properly prepared.
        Complaints are very frequently made by medical officers and officers of the line that many of the sick and wounded who are sent to general hospital are never heard from, the hospital surgeons failing to report deaths, discharges, furloughs, &c. I would again respectfully request that means be adopted for the correction of this neglect of duty on the part of medical officers in general hospital. I am exceedingly anxious to have a personal interview with you relative to some changes in the organization of our corps in the field, particularly in the purveying department. It is impossible for me to visit Richmond at this time, but hope soon to have an opportunity. My office is exhausted of blank forms. Please have forwarded to me the following, viz.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
L. GUILD,
Medical Director, Army of Northern Virginia.

Source: "Official Records of the War of the Rebellion"

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