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II Corps (Union Army)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

II Corps
IIcorpsbadge.png
Army of the Potomac II Corps badge (trefoil)
Active1862–1865
CountryUnited States United States
Branch
Usdowseal.jpg
Union Army
TypeArmy Corps
SizeCorps
Part ofArmy of the Potomac
Motto(s)"Clubs are trumps"
EngagementsAmerican Civil War
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Edwin Vose Sumner
Darius N. Couch
Winfield Scott Hancock
Gouverneur K. Warren
Andrew A. Humphreys
Insignia
1st Division
IIcorpsbadge1.png
2nd Division
IIcorpsbadge2.png
3rd Division
IIcorpsbadge3.png

There were five corps in the Union Army designated as II Corps (Second Army Corps) during the American Civil War. These formations were the Army of the Cumberland II Corps commanded by Thomas L. Crittenden from October 24, 1862, to November 5, 1862, later renumbered XXI Corps; the Army of the Mississippi II corps led by William T. Sherman from January 4, 1863, to January 12, 1863, renumbered XV Corps; Army of the Ohio II Corps commanded by Thomas L. Crittenden from September 29, 1862, to October 24, 1862, transferred to Army of the Cumberland; Army of Virginia II Corps led by Nathaniel P. Banks from June 26, 1862, to September 4, 1862, and Alpheus S. Williams from September 4, 1862, to September 12, 1862, renumbered XII Corps; and the Army of the Potomac II Corps from March 13, 1862, to June 28, 1865.

Of these five, the one most widely known was the Army of the Potomac formation, the subject of this article.

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  • ✪ Legacies of Letterman: The Army Medical Corps, 1864-1945 (Lecture)
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Transcription

well again welcome everyone my name is Barb Sanders I am the Education Specialist here. I see many friendly faces, faces I've seen in the past it's very good to see you but as I've said in the past I'm used to talking to 8th graders so you all scare me a little bit but nevertheless I am going to move forward. This lecture that we're doing today "Legacies of Letterman: The Army Medical Corps from 1864 to 1945" refers of course as I think most of you, this a very learned audience, most of you know Dr. Jonathan Letterman, the man seated in the middle of that slide there with his staff Dr. Jonathan Letterman has become a personal hero of mine as I've done a series of lectures on the Army Medical Corps in the Civil War the first one being preparing for war and going to war, the second one being that crucial first year of the war when really they were gearing up and getting ready and getting things organized and eventually appointing Dr. Letterman, and the third in that series was the Medical Corps here at the Battle during the Campaign and Battle of Gettysburg itself. When we got to this year's lecture series I decided there was more to that story there's more to his legacy there are things that we still are benefiting from from this man and others that he worked with and so that's what we're going to be talking about today. Dr. Jonathan Letterman and his cohorts and what have we really learned from them and what have we not learned from them so let me put it out to you again now I'm used to working with kids so I'm going to put it out on you a little bit please feel free to shout out! What really do most people think of as the medical legacy of the Civil War? Not you all because you're a learned audience again, but what do most people when they think of the Civil War and medicine, what do they take away with them? Most people think of amputations I heard, most people think of cutting off arms and legs, infection, they did not know about the germ theory at that time so they were kind of figuratively operating in the dark, triage over here so so many of you know that over the course of the Civil War based on what they had learned from the Crimean War that they perfected a series of triage a system of categorizing those wounded so that you can get to the most critically wounded and treat them first so today's lecture is about all of those things it's really about the system it's really not a romantic topic at all - so those of you are here for Valentine's Day - it's about acts of Congress and it's about systems and organization and it's about people who have not administrative ability to cut through the red tape and get things done for the care of our fighting men so we're going to look at some basic questions today. First of all, what were the instructing legacies that Letterman and the Civil War left us with? Some of them we've already called out. Which legacies have successfully evolved through World War II and which have not? some of these things we seem to have to relearn every time we enter into another military conflict, and since World War II, how have we progressed and how have we digressed? I'm not going to get into that very much today maybe that'll be a lesture next year I don't know but it's just something for us to think about. I have several books up here for those of you who are interested in learning more about this that's all I'm hoping I'm gonna be doing a very broad sweeping overview in four areas today but if you're interested to learn more - you probably have heard about the Civil War medicine book by Dr. Alfred J Bollet another couple of books that I have include, "Healers in World War II." This is an oral history of Medical Corps personnel. this is a really great book by Emily Mayhew called, "Wounded: A New History of the Western Front in World War I." It also has several oral histories in it but really the most amazing book that I discovered after I got started and I thank the Lord for this book right here it's called, "Providing For the Casualties of War: The American Experience Through World War II" by Bernard Rostker. And Mr. Rostker prepared this for the Office of the Secretary of Defense it's part 1 supposedly there's going to be a second part coming out that comes up to the modern day looking at the Medical Corps and it speaks to me because if he prepared it for the Secretary of the Department of Defense it means somewhere out there they want to continue to learn from the people of the past going through these medical experiences. this is an excellent book if anybody would like to take a closer look at I'll have it up here at the end. So this is a quote that I use in almost every lecture from Major General Paul Holly and lo and behold there is Major General Holly there on the right himself. He said, "I was the chief surgeon of the European theater of operations during World War II, a position similar to that of Letterman in the Army of the Potomac. At that time I often wondered whether had I been confronted with the primitive system which Letterman fell heir to at the beginning of the Civil War I could have developed as good an organization as he did. I doubt it. There was not a day during World War II that I did not thank God for Jonathan Letterman." Well that really says something doesn't it? this guy is in a completely different era different type of fighting different type of weapons different type of transport different type of everything different type of wounds different type of war he's dealing with things on a completely different level but you notice he refers to systems and organizations again so he's still using the basic systems and organizations that were created during the Civil War. But when we talk about those legacies we're not just - I say Letterman because let's face it, it's alliteration it makes a good title "Legacies of Letterman" right - but we're really talking about everybody that put forth and learned so much during the Civil War. Another hero of mine is Justin Dwinelle, Dr. Justin Dwinelle. He took care of the Second Corps hospital here at Gettysburg. Cornelia Hancock, a collection of her letters exists, all these people on the field level who learned so much in addition to people at the higher administrative levels so when I say, "Legicies of Letterman" I really mean legacies of all of these people including some of the other people that you see on the screen Doctor Letterman is the first picture. The next picture there - does anybody know? William Hammond who was the Surgeon General who appointed Doctor Letterman. The guy on the right is Preston Moore who is the head of most of the Confederate Army Medical Department. The guy in the circle there is the guy whom Letterman replaced and his name was Tripler. And I'm very fond of Dr. Tripler because that poor guy he tried he tried so hard he had a lot of the same problems that Letterman would come in and fix. He got very very frustrated. He got involved in a lot of personality conflicts and politics, but he knew what he was doing and he really created the scene. And then we know who the lady is right? Clara Barton and others like her. Boy, Clara Barton did not put up with red tape at any point in her life and went on after the Civil War to create the Red Cross. So just a focus on William Hammond. William Hammond comes in and is appointed in April of 1862 when this act, "The Act to Reorganize and Increase the Efficiency of the Medical Department of the Army," comes into play. this act was pushed through by the United States Sanitary Commission so the efforts of civilian organizations in pushing the Medical Corps forward is does not end here but it does begin here. you can see several of the things that they wanted to push through. This is '62 so the war has already been going on for a year ok they've gotta get organized, they've gotta get to the meat of things to care for these soldiers but the key provision which you can never use this language today was, "the appointment of a surgeon-general to be a young man of active and vigorous habits." because the army was operating on a seniority system and if you've been to my other lectures we spend a good time establishing this meaning the next person in line gets the job so early in the war or before the war there was no efforts to gear up the Medical Corps to train the Medical Corps to learn about it and get it put into place the I don't have the statistics with me but the Surgeon-General had been the Surgeon-General in the Black Hawk War or something like that. Nobody was expecting as long a war as they thought but they really didn't take the efforts that it needed to get the Medical Corps ready. so William Hammond then appoints Dr. Letterman. this is Dr. Letterman's gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery outside of Washington, D. C. you can see it's literally his epitaph that he is the father of Battlefield medicine and you'll note the words you can't quite see all the wording so I typed it up there at the top but note the words "order," efficiency," and "organization." now when I die these will not be words on my epitaph. but it's important "who brought order inefficiency" this is what it says that the bottom "into the medical service and who was the originator of modern methods of medical organization in armies." his system was officially adopted for the United States Army by an act of Congress in March of 1864 by the time of the Battle of Gettysburg most parts of his system were put into play and working effectively he resigned from the Army late in 1864 and he moved to California - he was only 38 years old when he puts all the stuff into play by the way which is astounding to me - and he dies at the age of 47 less than 10 years later and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. so what is this system and what is this organization? well specifically and it looks pretty simple there on the screen but specifically he put the system into place so that there were enough personnel enough supplies and enough beds at each point of the path of a soldier and kept them moving through so when you have and it sounds like common sense to us but it really took a lot of organization to get this into play. so you get wounded on the front you have a first aid officer who has a medical haversack with a tourniquet probably some whiskey a bullet probe some bandages maybe a splint who treat you at the front and get you back to the next stage to the aid station. The stretcher bearers in Letterman's plan are trained men they are not just the musicians who were supposed to put down their instruments and and go do something that they have not been trained for now they have been trained in that slot. that picture on the right is a triage drill. those are not real wounded those are men learning the best way to carry a wounded man learning how to put them into the category so you get to the most critically wounded first. The picture on the left there is of the members of the United States Sanitary Commission. earlier men before Letterman were not keen on other people coming in and telling the Army what to do was not a popular move he worked very well with these organizations knew what they had to learn and what they have to offer he evolved that triage system as I've said the transport system he got the ambulance corps away from the quartermaster department with McClellan's help and over to the medical department. so again it sounds like common sense of course the medical department should be in charge of the ambulances how many there are where they're positioned etcetera etcetera but this is something that he had to wrestle with and and have evolved. The supply system now at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg it's on the divisional or corps level so that you can set up these hospitals so after the transport to the aid station the basic surgical procedure then you're going to a field hospital. These field hospitals are located right around where we're sitting today sometimes on Taneytown Road, sometimes they have to be moved further back eventually they're going to turn them into divisional field hospitals but that way the supply wagons when they catch up know where to go they they know where to find about how far behind the lines the wounded from each division and corps know if they follow their line of battle back they're gonna run into their hospital they're gonna be hopefully properly supplied and taken care of and then you're continuing care surgery then you're transported. there was a train station here at Gettysburg so you'd be transported to a general hospital if you need more care you can't yet go back to your unit maybe in Philadelphia, Baltimore perhaps. maybe you're not yet ready to join your unit and you're not strong enough to travel by train to a general hospital and that's where Camp Letterman, the large tented general hospital here in Gettysburg came into play of course named after Dr. Jonathan Letterman. and has everyone heard of that before? we've talked about that extensively. so that was located where Arby's and Giant and its Camp Letterman Drive. Ruby Tuesdays his on Camp Letterman Drive so that's about all that exists of that but that was a large tented general hospital that was in existence which speaks to the mass amount of wounded that was in existence here at Gettysburg until two days after Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address so until late November. you'll note that there is, and we aregoing to come back to this today, flexibility and adaptability to this process based on road networks and based on any number of other things so just the fact that they created Camp Letterman tells you that they're going to be able to look at the system and supplies and personnel and hold a certain number of people back and others go on to the next battle and that's going to be really really key and ultimately I'll just jump ahead so it's like if you see the end of the movie before the beginning I just jump ahead to the ending here the beginning is that's really our legacy that we hoped that I hope we take from Letterman that adaptability and flexibility and evolution of these systems of care. so what are we talking about between the Civil War and World War II? What are the major military actions and how do the systems and precedents that were put into place in the Civil War affect things? so after the Battle of Gettysburg and post-Civil War, where the surgeons are now experienced they're still not operating under antisepsis, they still don't really understand infection but care is improving, the system is in place and it is used as a model for European armies we even display things at a World's Fair - different wagons and different mobility issues so Letterman really puts us in the mark worldwide for this care. we return to normal peacetime operations in 1866 for example there are a hundred and eighty-seven post hospitals with 10881 beds. that's it. so if you think just at the Battle of Gettysburg there were twenty seven thousand wounded ok now post war in all the post hospitals there's just almost 11,000 beds. both sides in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 incorporated Letterman's innovations then the Indian wars on the frontier the post surgeons there were principally occupied with the care of the sick in 1877 the Army adopts antiseptic surgery we established the Hospital Corps in 1887.The Hospital Corps was that you would have stewards and privates with the sole duty of the care of the sick and wounded so even inbetween wars they're focusing on that. In 1893 the Army Medical School is created and that continues the professionalization and organization of the medical department. what's the next major engagement for these guys? The Rough Riders yes the Rough Riders Teddy Roosevelt so the Spanish-American War in 1898 between Spain and America of course was a result the US intervention in the Cuban War for Independence. it's fought in tropical climates like the Philippines, Cuba, and the Caribbean it lasted for just about 10 weeks and disease is really the main killer in those climates typhoid, malaria, yellow fever. what's the big action after that of course? World War I. World War I begins in 1914 we got involved in 1917 and this will see today really gives us the upper hand medically to observe and prepare. our involvement lasts about a year and a half in World War I. and then of course World War II begins in 1939. of course our involvement begins in late 1941 with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor massive overseas campaign in multiple theaters so again coming back to General Holly's quote this is a completely different war but he is still applying those basic systems of Letterman. When I decided I was going to do this lecture, this is a little aside, I had 12 different areas that I thought I was going to be able to cover from the Civil War to World War II. it's not going to happen so today we're just going to focus on the progression in four areas: our preparation for war, the treatment path of the wounded soldier, the evolution of post care and rehabilitative care, and maybe, just maybe, if I get to it a little bit about the evolution of mental health care which really deserves an entire lecture all of its own but I will try to get to it today but get you out of here in time to go to your Valentine's Day dinners. so preparing for war and mobilizing the Army. how did we get ready? how did we fare in these major military campaigns? we know the now infamous story of the crowds of spectators after the battle at the Battle of Manassas and ill-prepared stretcher bearers and ambulance drivers who just ran for the hills. So there's changes in technology, weaponry, communication, transportation. they now become world wars on a global scale so how did we prepare individual soldiers? how did we prepare and mobilize whole armies? and then how did we prepare the medical departments of those armies? we're just gonna look at some key developments as we go through. in the Civil War everybody probably knows what a basic Civil War medical exam was especially at the beginning of the war. ok so basically they go and maybe thump on your chest a little bit,so how are you feeling soldier? ok good. it's just gonna be a battle or two right? perhaps they would have you do the eye exam. let's do that now. how many fingers am I holding up? Two. good you pass the eye exam. can everybody hear everything? you pass the hearing test. how are your fingers? let's wiggle them everyone. and what finger am I looking for? your trigger finger. a lot of the these guys had been farmers and lost tips of fingers in various accidents so you have to be able to pull the trigger. so as war goes on there're very minimal diagnostic tools they're just looking for your basic and general health as you can see from the outside there are all kinds of things that individual soldiers were not prepared for and whole armies and the Medical Corps. POW care, the draft and draft riots, soldiers who are malingering that we now know many perhaps were having some stress and combat stress and issues of that nature. Diseases. we certainly were not prepared to handle eruptions of major diseases; diseases based on bad food, bad water. but they're basically at this point just looking for glaring deformities and really bad health. in World War I various neuroses and more physical conditions were screened out. the Army in World War I rejected 69,394 men including 21,858 for what they termed generally as quote "mental defects." so whether that be emotional or whether that be with the intellect. so they're screening more out at that time and looking for different things. in World War II health exams for recruits included both physical and mental health screenings and they're also preparing these guys for their specialty and training so that the screenings for paratroopers are going to be different from screenings for other soldiers. we also had the Selective Service System at that time 1,250,000 men were rejected in 1942 and 1943 alone. that was 12% of those examined. historian Stephen Ambrose said that the physical and mental examinations screening out a lot of soldiers. according to Stephen Ambrose, he said it made the "average draftee of World War II brighter, healthier, and better educated than the average American." this is an illustration of the Spanish-American War - loading a ship and getting ready to go on our first kind of overseas campaign. when war was declared in 1898 Congress increased the size of the regular army from 27,000 to just under 65,000 and eventually 223,000 volunteers would fill the ranks. the mobilization of the medical department however did not go as well. there really wasn't enough time. again this was a ten-week war for us. they did not have the time to acquire the equipment, train the men, get the right man there, and like in the Civil War they resorted to using contract surgeons and and again if any of you have been to a lecture of mine you'll know that the regular army surgeons and contract surgeons did not think a lot of each other so we did not exactly prepare the medical staff very well. between the wars, and as a result of the Spanish-American war, several things helped us to get ready for World War I. Anyone know who that guy is? such a smart crowd such a smart crowd! yes President McKinley. President, McKinley, after the Spanish-American War appointed members of something called the Dodge Commission and these guys - I think it was all men - recommended a higher level of readiness in peacetime for the medical department specifically a large force of commission medical officers they recommended a reserve corps of medical officers and nurses and a year's worth of medical supplies "for an army at least four times the actual strength." so there they don't want to relearn that Civil War lesson of are we going to be in a long war or are we not going to be a long war they're just going to gear up and try to get staff and supplies and everything put into place. some other things the Army was reorganized - this is what I've learned in researching this lecture: the army reorganizes itself a lot! they reorganize the Army. The Army Reorganization Act of 1901 authorized a Nurse Corps, standardized unit structures, assigned medical personnel, allocation of ambulance companies in field hospitals, and created new medical manuals. they tested all this stuff and field maneuvers in 1903, again in 1910, and again in 1913. A Medical Reserve Corps was created in 1908 as a forerunner to the Army Reserve so by 1916 on the eve of World War I there were almost two thousand physicians enrolled in that corps so we're not going to have to deal with contract surgeons again they're hoping.The National Defense Act of 1916 this is really really important because the National Defence Act of 1916 authorized enlisted medical personnel as a fixed percentage of army and strength. that's really important. so if you have this much if your army is this big, you have to have this amount of medical personnel to be able to serve that army so that was a really important thing. the rapid mobilization once we entered World War I and there was a rapid demobilization when we ended so between April 1917 and November 11, 1918 the size of the Army increased from 190,000 to 3,665,000. That means the Army increased in size by a factor of 19. the medical services increased by a factor of 42 I'm not a math person but that sounds pretty significant to me. so let's go on to World War II. how do we prepare individuals? how do we gear up and mobilize armies? and how did we prepare the Medical Corps and medical assistance organizations? it's important to talk about - I have a red cross poster over here on the left - talk about the again just mentioned that the help of civilian organizations from the United States Sanitary Commission and the United States Christian Commission and others in the Civil War to the the Red Cross through World War II and the importance of the Army working with those organizations for help so Clara Barton we already mentioned her. the American Red Cross in World War II now you have blood donations and blood drives in the states and you have plasma. now I hear the word plasma - I grew up watching MASH - but I really looked this up and have a better understanding of it. so from the United States airlifted over to Europe and to the pacific. it was incredible. there were 206,000 pints of whole blood sent to medical units in Europe and a 182,000 pints sent to the Pacific. Plasma is the fluid portion of the blood so the blood cells are suspended in this dried plasma and that contains proteins, salts, nutrients, hormones, enzymes, all kinds of things that are important to the tissues of the body. so Plasma was obtained from blood donors and given to soldiers who had suffered from a loss of blood or from shock and couldn't maintain their blood pressure so they could be dried and stored in bottles so this really is going to decrease the death rate throughout the course of World War II. so the civilian organizations and all that they gave has really helps at this point to to prepare and make ready the Army Medical Division. General George C. Marshall up there in the top again reorganized the Army in March of 1942. And this is overall a good thing but it does create problems of jurisdiction for the Medical Department in four areas: access to the Chief of Staff - so this whole chain of command thing sometimes gets in the way - control medical plans and policies, control medical units and facilities at home, and control medical personnel and units deployed overseas. many of these problems parallel Civil War-era problems of supply and personnel so as I mention the Ambulance Corps being under the Quartermaster doesn't seem like a very big problem when you're not in the Medical Corps. you need to be able to know where to get your supplies and your personnel at the right time so now that the Medical Department is more or less prepared for war how did these preparations affect the path and treatment of the wounded soldier? we're gonna briefly look now at the path of a soldier which includes first aid, triage, transport, and evacuation. I'm going to take this off of here - bear with me Caitlin - ok so once again I'm gonna just thank profusely Tom Holbrook for digging out of his personal collection all the things that we see here on the table today which kind of shows the evolution of the material culture of this first aid and triage treatment so I brought the tarred haversack medical bag that we use on student programs to talk about the first aid officer in the Civil War who would head up to the front have this bag with a bullet probe, again some whiskey, bandages, tourniquets, etc. to go up there and try to start the triage and give basic first aid treatments. Tom has brought several things and they're organized on this table you can see by the helmet what we're talking about here so over here on the left we're talking about World War I. he shows the evolution - this is a US Amry medic's bag and it's filled with all kinds of stuff, more stuff than even it would have come equipped with. so you can see on the contents here that tells you exactly what would be in that medic's back it ended up being too bulky this is about a 1913 era bag. it was too bulky not well liked by the men who used it and so they moved to this medics belt I'm not going to lift it up you can come up and see you later but the medic's belt was easier, more mobile to move around, and it had 10 compartments. the date on this belt is around 1917. in addition each individual soldier had a first aid packet and a compressed bandage to use. so often the Medic is gonna grab different things from those individual soldiers as he needs them and try to keep his belt as supplied as he possibly can. Tom also brought a US Army Medical Officer's roll-up bag so the medical officers in addition to having that belt they would have additional medicines and in there is also a mini surgical kit with some scalpels and and a couple of other basic tools for what they'd have to do on the front. as we move to the World War II gear. he brought so many cool things including these little syrettes of morphine - I'm going to be very careful with those - syrettes of morphine that the individual soldiers would have. and then you will be able to see when you come up here that this equipment really evolves. so this is a US Army medic bag with a shoulder harness from World War II and that was a really well-liked piece of equipment. it enabled them to have a lot of gear - you can maybe see from where you're sitting - how substantial these bags are so they can fit a lot of things in there for their treatment up at the front and it's easy to carry with that harness. How many of you know Tom and you've heard him talk? okay so I'm gonna do my best Tom Holbrook impersonation. he said anything that rolled, floated, or flew had multiple medical kits in it. That wasn't a very good Tom impersonation - well I tried. so he's got a jeep kit here. he's got an an aircraft first aid kit over here and then he has several other special things maybe things - a US Navy pilot's individual first aid pouch and this item over here is a special kit of materials pretty heavy that was created for the tropical climate so special things to guard against mosquitoes and all that sort of stuff. so please when you see him thank him and he will be here afterwards to answer any questions and for you to see that stuff more up close and personal but it does show the evolution of the material culture as various things change and how that equipment is changing. so what was the path of a soldier like over the course of these actions? well we've talked a little bit about the Civil War and what that progression was like from the time that you were wounded to the time that you returned to your unit or headed home or to a general hospital. In World War I we learned lessons from the other forces before we entered the war and this was a new kind of war so everything's different: telephone and wireless communication, now you have motorized ambulances and trucks although they are still using horse-drawn things combat vehicles, armored cars, tanks, aircraft, barbed wire comes into play, trench warfare is something that the medics had to deal with quite a bit. in the course the changes and weaponry now you have machine guns and all these things are creating different types of wounds and different types of situations. the majority of American casualties came while on the offensive in World War I so therefore from bullets and not from artillery shells. In 1914 new field service regulations came out so just like in the Civil War the centerpiece of medical support in Europe was the Divisional Hospital. The Battalion Aid Station under the battalion surgeon was the focal point of surgical care close to the front lines and in addition to evacuation hospitals and a train of four field hospitals and four ambulance companies provided that evacuation. so you'll note here that there is a continued focus on movement in the system and there's a focus on specialization in things such as surgeries and evacuation training so they're building on things from the Civil War so for example now they don't have a horse-drawn wagon they have a motorized truck. they have stretchers but the stretchers are made of lighter material or heavier material but lightweight material but they have specialized trained men early in the war before we even enter the war who know how to get to those men how to evacuate them how to get them up on that truck and get them moved very quickly. the average time to evacuate men in World War I is no longer measured in days but now in hours so the average time between their wounding and their arrival at a field hospital was four hours and to an evacuation hospital further behind the lines was just 10 hours so that was a massive improvement in a short span of years so the system was in place but not actualized fully before we begin to demobilize after World War I so stop just a minute about the path of a soldier in World War II and how that evolved. Transportation has gone from the wagons in the Civil War to medical transport aboard C47 cargo planes and the time frames have now moved from days to remove wounded soldiers off the field to most of the day in World War I to now this concept of the "golden period" which was six hours or even the "golden hour" to get and treat that person and moved them within one hour of their wound. the reduction in death rates during World War II is again a generally attributed to the use of blood plasma and whole blood, antibiotics, sulfa drugs, penicillin, etc. and a chain of evacuations that standardized the care and moved to patients quickly to higher echelons so they could receive the best care possible. This is a very very brief overview of the medical eschelons in the Civil War. there are five levels I'll go over them very very briefly in. echelon 1 as Tom has an example up here each soldier carried a packet of field dressings and sulfa for immediate sanitation. the medics were trained to treat minor injuries and to stabilize serious injuries and to transport to the aid station. the aid station was three to five hundred yards away. in the US Army in World War I there were 687,000 medics - that's roughly 1 in every 12 soldiers. one of them spoke at World War II weekend this past year and it was fascinating to think of the very very basic level of training he got in first aid: train, treat, train, move on. Aid station personnel controlled hemorrhages, applied dressings and splints, and administered morphine for pain, infused plasma for recitation. Echelon 2 was roughly equivalent to the Civil War field hospital each battalion had three collecting companies and what they called a "clearing company." A collecting company consisted of an ambulance and litterbearer sections to evacuate the casualties to the clearing stations for triage. the clearing companies were equipped to function as small hospitals platoons of the clearing companies leapfrog closer as the line of battle advanced those who required care beyond that station's capabilities were transported to Echelon 3. In Echelon 2 their teams had two surgeons, an anaesthetist, surgical nurse, and two enlisted technicians and they were capable of surgeries there with transfusion and plasma therapy. Echelon 3 is equivalent roughly to a Civil War divisional hospital like the ones along the Baltimore Pike. the evacuation hospitals here were either 400-bed hospitals that could be moved very quickly or a 750-bed hospital in which mobility was sacrificed but you had more complete supplies and facilities. they offered reparative surgeries between 4 and 10 days after the wounding and ideally they had one 400-bed hospital per division was located between 8 and 12 miles behind the lines patients typically stayed there for a week or two and then could either be returned to duty or passed onto Echelon 4. 4 is roughly equivalent to a Civil War general hospital like Camp Letterman or the hospitals in the major cities it's still in the zone of communication because they still ultimately want to get that soldier recovered enough to send them back to their unit or to a unit. the general hospitals had about 1000 to 2000 bed so they had no mobility. transportation to Echelon 4 was by rail shipper or air and generally they had a 90-day rule at Echelon 4 so if the patient was thought to be able to recover and return to fighting within 90 days they stayed here if not they were moved to Echelon 5. Echelon 5 is gonna build on the initial Civil War concept of econstruction - of really getting that soldier ready for the rest of his life. he's not going to go back to his unit we're gonna get him ready for the rest of his life. specialized long-term care and military VA and civilian hospitals that could provide reconstructive and rehabilitative surgeries and other services. so what about these C47s? ok this is actually the C47 of the top but the larger picture there's a C 46 which I know nothing about but I use it here to just demonstrate how they would outfit these massive cargo planes to transport the wounded soldiers. the speed of a path of a soldier through the 5 echelons of care improved throughout the war and as Rotsker noted in that both the increased role of aircraft and evacuations foretold the revolution in military medical care that was to take place in the latter half of the 20th century ok now my little note here says it's supposed to be 2:10 right now I'm not doing so bad! we're gonna get through this! ok so the path of a soldier in World War II therefore is still remarkably similar to the Letterman system but no one in the Civil War could have foretold the immense evolution in the considerations of post operative care. the last two things we're going to talk about today I'm really gonna have to go over very very basically. the concept of rehabilitation first appears in the Civil War. they attempted reconstruction surgeries but really appearance of the soldiers so that they are not stigmatized in their postwar life is of utmost importance so you see the gentleman in the upper right picture his arm obviously is not functional but when they were trying to make decisions for example whether to amputate or or just remove a segment of the bone they're really thinking about their appearance and not the functionality. Functionality is going to come later the large number of amputees over the course of the war spurred advancements in the field that we now call rehabilitative medicine particularly in the development of prosthetic devices and the main leader in this area of plastic surgeries and reconstructive surgeries is a man by the name of Dr. Gurdon Buck. He is the father of plastic surgery. and another main change here is the growing concept of long-term Federal care rather than the vets and their care being the responsibility of state or local areas so this includes the provision of limbs, the creation of soldiers homes, and eventually the soldiers pensions. In World War I this concept of rehabilitative care takes great strides partly because there are reduced mortality rates so now there's a greater number of veterans and the nature of their wounds and disabilities led to this evolved concept of rehabilitating them, returning the wounded veterans back to productive members of society. once the United States entered the war the Surgeon General ordered a study of Great Britain's practices in this area and the study team emphasized the necessity of keeping the prospective patient under military medical control until they would be able to assume wage earning positions or enter upon an arranged and definitive source of occupational therapy. by the end of the summer of 1917 there was a division of special hospitals and physical reconstruction and this was formed for the reception classification distribution treatment and care in the United States of invalidated officers and men and for not only their curative treatment and education but also to take measures for securing employment for them when discharged so this is a huge leap from the Civil War. I know Scott Hartwig did an article on the some of the casualties of the 69th Pennsylvania and I think that was in Gettysburg Magazine - I can't remember - but there was one soldier in there that I vividly remember his story he was so what they called feeble and tremulous that he couldn't hold down any job after the war. his wife left him, they didn't get a divorce, but she left. he had multiple injuries and he lived in Lancaster PA and somebody got him a job. all he had to do was once a day light the street lamps and he couldn't hold that job. it was the easiest job they could think of and he couldn't hold it so we've gone from that now to over the course of WorldWar I really thinking about what do we owe these veterans and how can we get them back to productive level of society. some highlights of the plan was the expanded role the medical department beyond just getting the soldier back to his unit, establishing vocational schools and shops to create a teaching course - this is the forerunner of the GI Bill you can see here at Walter Reed Hospital some of the therapies they used to get working again first steps to usefulness as a page out of the book from this. so the Smith Sears Act of 1918 looked at what point are soldiers no longer in the Army? at what point do we turn over their care? Are they ready to go? and this is gonna come back in World War II and later this type of conflict between Army care, veteran care, who does what, who does what when, this is the type of political and personality conflict that Letterman unlike many others was able to avoid and really just look at what's the most beneficial for the soldier but the sudden armistice on November 11, 1918 the whole program was truncated in size scope and duration in the rush to demobilize between the wars 1924 is the creation of the Veterans Bureau. in 1930 the Veterans Administration is created and it combines several bureaus including the bureau that handles the homes for soldiers - incapacitated soldiers. The Pensions Bureau it all becomes part of the VA. care and rehabilitation I won't get into this too much there's a lot of different acts: The Disabled Veterans Rehabilitation Act of 1933 provided for care on a space-available basis and authorized vocational training for the disabled and then President Roosevelt in December 1944 says that those returning from overseas not be discharged until they had "received the maximum benefit of hospitalization and convalescent facilities which must include physical and psychological rehabilitation, vocational guidance, free vocational training, and re-socialization." I find this focus by that particular President very interesting here is a guy who was not mobile not able physically to do a lot although he covered it up and so he's really trying to make sure that those veterans get that care. the GI Bill was created in 1944 provided for college or vocational education for returning veterans as well as loan programs for those with disabilities and for those without so there are other things to go into here but basically we progressed in the concept of rehabilitation and care for veterans from the Civil War where it was all about appearance to World War I where it becomes about rehabilitation and returning to productive society to World War 2 where the government affirms its commitment to all those returning from military service. did we progress as well in treating and caring for the mental health of our soldiers and veterans? and that's the last thing that I'll just touch upon today. this as I said this is a big story I really wanted to go into it a great deal but it it really does is worthy of an entire lecture unto itself so I'll just touch upon a few basic things with this one slide. in the Civil War the typical medical screen screenings of course included no mental health considerations and there was no system of treatment the medical and surgical history of the Civil War reports 15,350 cases in the Union Army, just in the Union Army 15,350 cases of what they lump together as "insanity, nostalgia, and sunstroke" together. so why were those lumped together? these were all considered diseases of the nervous system so any mental incapacitation was regarded in the Civil War as a physical ailment of course we know that malingerers and shirkers were regarded with contempt and that some were captured brought back to their regiments and shot to death by military authorities so any mental incapacitation is seen as punishable nostalgia is what they called homesickness. the commanders for what they termed nostalgia generally used a generous furlough system or constant hard work to combat and usually they had this nostalgia in the non campaigning seasons so over the winter when their in winter camp and and can just think about and long for home. the records attribute 67 deaths to nostalgia. boy I was closer to death my first year in college then I realized because I was homesick! now tell me what you think this sounds like - this is what they called "soldiers heart" - rapid and uncontrollable heartbeat palpitations, shortness of breath. it was also called "stress heart" or "irritable heart" physicians noted that the excitement of battle and double-quick marching caused this syndrome. what's that sound like to you? thank you! any of you who have had panic attacks, they were having anxiety attacks that was called "soldier's heart" so there was a connection between stress of the war and physical symptoms but generally it was determined that some derangement of Health preceded this phenomenon in other words that these conditions could have been screened out. disability claims for pensions based on psychological problems were denied in the Civil War and soldiers who develop persistent psychotic symptoms were hospitalized and many at the Government Hospital for the Insane in Washington D.C. so overall there were 2410 white and 193 black soldiers diagnosed as insane in World War I I want to talk about the guy on the upper left here his name is Dr. Thomas Salmon he's my new guy that i'm gonna start to learn all about. again America benefited from observations of other nations and what they were dealing with before we entered the war so this widespread nature of nervous diseases stimulated interest in this study and so we sent Dr. Salmon over - he was the medical director of the National Committee for Mental Hygiene sent him to England in 1916 to observe. so what are we typically call in World War I, what was the term that they used? shell shocked! right! they eventually begin terming it neuro-psychiatric casualties, or neuroses - neuroses ailments. but shell shock was a term that was initially thought to be a physical or neurological reaction to literally being close to an exploding shell and it was used a lot it was overused. Dr. Salmon goes over to England in 1916 and concludes that the strain of war leads to what he will now call "war neuroses" and he referred to that as a pre-existing condition or tendency that they came in with that is now agitated and brought to the surface by the stresses war, of such as depression ,anxiety, etc., etc., so they're still thinking they can screen this stuff out. they are still not totally putting the emphasis on the fact that perfectly mentally capable healthy people can come in and go through combat stress situations and come out a changed person. but he had some very important things in his report. first of all he reported that the British and French had learned that treatment at the front or as close to the front as possible and back to the unit in combat led to more rapid improvement. he determined that the following 4 things should be given: encouragement, rest, persuasion, and suggestions. so in other words you're gonna be ok I want you to rest and then we're gonna get you back up there I think it'd be good for you to get back up to the front don't you want to get back to the front with your men, etcetera etcetera. he stressed, and this is key, that neuroses malingering be distinguished and of ensuring that, "no case in which the possibility of neuroses or psychosis exists be finally dealt with until the subject is examined by a neurologist or psychiatrist." so he suggested that we follow the British model which is that a psychiatrist who was at the rank of a major and supporting staff be assigned to each division, that there be a psychiatric ward established in each General Hospital backed up by a special hospital just for war neuroses. so this ward specialization which began in the Civil War is now including mental health specialization. Circular Number 35 of June13, 1918 was the management of mental diseases and was neuroses in the American Expeditionary Forces. this was detailed instructions for the care, evacuation, and transportation of these patients. psychiatrists were tasked with: 1. safeguarding incapacitated from disciplinary action and 2. returning as many as possible to their units within 2 to 5 days on an average 65 percent return to their units within that time frame so the rise of military psychiatry in World War I was a good thing they weren't following fully although he was felt everywhere that guy up there in the upper right and everyone knows who that is right? Sigmund Freud. so they're not into psychoanalysis yet but they're starting to really focus on this but on the eve of American involvement in World War II they've made cuts ok so we're gonna have to relearn all these lessons that they learned in World War I with Dr. Salmon. They will have to relearn them in World War II because they're making cuts. On the eve of American involvement in World War II, only 4 of 37 Army psychiatrists will be board certified and they were not there to treat the patients but rather to evaluate the behaviors and facilitate discharges. the position of division psychiatrist was eliminated for economic reasons and the focus went back to pre- screening potential problems. the position was reauthorized in late 1943. so here's an example of how we had to relearn these lessons. during the initial battles in North Africa only 5% neuro-psychiatric casualties were returned to duty. 5 percent. by the summer of 1944 now you have the psychiatrist position back into place they now have a rate of 65% returning to duty for these types of casualties. to return to duty as quickly as possible is once again becomes the primary objective I'll just mention the two other things on the slide sodium pentothal was used to facilitate psychoanalysis eventually and then the earlier four words now become these four words. this is your basic what you're doing up front as a psychiatrist: proximity, immediacy, expediency, simplicity. it's all about treating them and not punishing them but getting them back to the front as quickly as possible. treating them as close to the front as quickly as possible. psychiatric triage is put into place in World War II so whereas Dr. Letterman establishes and really perfects the system of medical triage in the middle and late Civil War now there's psychiatric triage. it included Echelon 1 which was the battalion aid station where the patient either goes back to their unit or onto the regimental aid station for rest. if more rest is needed the patient is sent to the division clearing station for evaluation. there it is determined whether they need 3 to 5 days of treatment at the Rehabilitation Center or if they will be evacuated to the Army Neuro-psychiatric center. so a lot of things going on. a lot of cuts being made. when they get back to the states those cuts are played out there doing they're using sodium pentothal again they're doing experiments with group therapy they're not really utilizing the psychiatrist position and what they're learning about psychoanalysis fully but we do make progression so let's review a little bit really quickly. what have we done?how have we progressed from the end of the Civil War with Dr. Letterman through World War II. While under preparation for war the Army Medical Corps was not really prepared until the end of 1862 during the course of the Civil War. The World War II Army had a consistent level of medical personnel, training, supplies, and system, especially considering the mass scale and scope of War I think think you can say we did pretty well. how do we progress in the treatment path of a soldier? Letterman system expanded and specified various things. in this path the Echelon system of World War II build upon that system and was a success so we progress for multiple days to remove and treat wounded to just hours through this system. this time frame continues to be shortened and medical personnel in the Army today refers not to the golden period or the golden hour but they refer to the "Platinum minutes" - the crucial minutes after wounding to get to those soldiers. How did we progress in post- care and rehabilitation? we moved from attempting to hide disfigurement to rehabilitating soldiers for productive lives to the GI Bill and helping all soldiers to continue to educate themselves and become the most productive members of society. and mental health care? we moved from an era where very little was understood and nervous disorders considered cowardly and worthy of punishment to the advent of Freud and psychotherapy is close to the front as possible and the introduction of medical triage that included psychological triage in care. so we were doing ok. we did ok. this is a quote from Lieutenant Colonel McVeigh who's been with the US- Army Medical Department in Iraq and Afghanistan, "war requires agility and adaptability and so does the medical response to war." so they'll never be a final draft for Army Medical Care's technology of medicine and warfare and human civilization in general is always evolving but in my opinion the real legacy that is best taken from Letterman and all the others involved in the care of soldiers during the Civil War are the ones of organization and adaptability so common sense measures looking at the spirit of the laws and regulations and not the letters of the law and regulations getting past personality conflicts and power struggles to policies and procedures that will affect the care of the soldiers and the care of the field staff - the medical field staff - cutting through that red tape to do what is right by all casualties of our armed forces. our constant efforts are continued and constant efforts to improve in our abilities to treat casualties of war is how we can best preserve Dr. Letterman's legacy so I'll concluded a with asking this question? how we doing today in the care of those soldiers? so perhaps perhaps that will be the discussion next year at a follow-up lecture. I thank you all so much for your time and attention.

Corps history

The II Corps was prominent by reason of its longer and continuous service, larger organization, hardest fighting, and greatest number of casualties. Within its ranks was the regiment that sustained the largest percentage of loss in any one action; the regiment that sustained the greatest numerical loss in any one action; and the regiment that sustained the greatest numerical loss during its term of service. Of the one hundred regiments in the Union Army that lost the most men in battle, thirty-five of them belonged to the II Corps. The II Corps also fought in nearly every battle in the main Eastern Theater, from the 1862 Peninsula Campaign to the Confederate surrender at Appomattox Court House.

The corps was organized under General Orders No. 101, March 21, 1862, which assigned Brigadier General Edwin Vose Sumner to its command, and Brigadier Generals Israel B. Richardson, John Sedgwick, and Louis Blenker to the command of its divisions. Within three weeks of its organization the corps moved with George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac on the Peninsula Campaign, except for Blenker's division, which was withdrawn on March 31 from McClellan's command, and ordered to reinforce John C. Frémont's army in western Virginia. Blenker's division never rejoined the corps. The remaining two divisions numbered 21,500 men, of whom 18,000 were present for duty.

The first general engagement of the corps occurred at the Battle of Seven Pines, where Sumner's prompt and soldierly action brought the corps on the field in time to retrieve a serious disaster, and change a rout into a victory. In a fierce engagement with Confederate general Gustavus W. Smith's division, Brig. Gen Oliver Howard was shot in the arm and had to have it amputated, causing him to miss all of the summer campaigning of the army. The casualties of the two divisions in that battle amounted to 196 killed, 899 wounded, and 90 missing. In the Seven Days Battles, the II Corps was not engaged until Savage's Station when it held off Confederate general John B. Magruder's troops. The following day, the corps was engaged at Glendale, where John Sedgwick's division was in the thick of the fighting. Israel Richardson's division spent the battle to the north engaged in a standoff with "Stonewall" Jackson's troops on opposite sides of White Oak Swamp; fighting here was limited to artillery dueling. The corps was held in reserve at Malvern Hill. Total II Corps casualties in the Seven Days were 201 killed, 1,195 wounded, and 1,024 missing. Afterwards, Sumner, Sedgwick, and Richardson all received promotions to major general as part of a blanket promotion of each corps and division commander in the Army of the Potomac. The II Corps spent the Northern Virginia Campaign in Washington D.C. and did not participate in it except at the very end when it moved out to cover the retreat of Maj. Gen John Pope's army.

The corps then marched on the Maryland Campaign, during which time it received a new division of nine month troops headed by Brig. Gen William H. French. At the Battle of Antietam the corps was heavily engaged, its casualties amounting to more than twice that of any other corps on the field. Out of 15,000 effectives, it lost 883 killed, 3,859 wounded, and 396 missing; total, 5,138. Nearly one-half of these casualties occurred in Sedgwick's 2nd Division, in its bloody and ill-planned advance on the Dunker church, an affair that was under Sumner's personal direction; this included units like the 34th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment on the left flank of the division's 1st Brigade, as well as the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry of later Gettysburg fame. The Irish Brigade, of Richardson's 1st Division, also sustained a terrible loss in its fight at the "Bloody Lane", but, at the same time, inflicted a greater one on the enemy. This allowed Colonel Francis C. Barlow to lead the 61st and 64th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiments to break through the Confederate line. Sedgwick and Richardson were both wounded in the battle; the former eventually recovered and went on to corps command, the latter succumbed to an infection a month and a half after the battle. Oliver Howard succeeded to command of Sedgwick's division, Richardson's division was taken over by Brig. Gen Winfield Hancock, brought over from the VI Corps as the ranking brigadier general in the division, John C. Caldwell, was too inexperienced and junior for the position.

The next engagement was at the Battle of Fredericksburg. In the meantime Sumner had been promoted to the command of a Grand Division—II and IX Corps—and General Darius N. Couch, a division commander of the IV Corps, was appointed to his place. The loss of the corps at Fredericksburg exceeded that of any other in that battle, amounting to 412 killed, 3,214 wounded, and 488 missing, one-half of which fell on Hancock's Division in the unsuccessful assault on Marye's Heights. The percentage of loss in Hancock's division was high, Caldwell's brigade suffering 46% casualties.

After Fredericksburg, the Grand Divisions were discontinued and the aging Sumner decided to retire from command. Couch led the corps at the Battle of Chancellorsville, with Hancock, John Gibbon, and French as his division commanders. Sedgwick had been promoted to the command of the VI Corps, and Howard, who had commanded Sedgwick's Division at Fredericksburg, was promoted to the command of the XI Corps. At Chancellorsville, the principal part of the II Corps's fighting fell on Hancock's division, its skirmish line, under Colonel Nelson A. Miles, distinguishing itself by a successful resistance to a strong attack of the enemy, making one of the most interesting episodes in the history of that battle. During the fighting at Chancellorsville, Gibbon's 2nd Division remained at Fredericksburg, where it supported Sedgwick's operations, but with slight loss.

Not long after Chancellorsville, Couch, unhappy with Joe Hooker's performance as army commander, resigned. Hancock assumed command of the corps, and Brigadier General John C. Caldwell to his division. At the start of the Gettysburg Campaign, Brigadier General Alexander Hays' brigade joined, and was assigned to the 3rd Division, Hays taking command of the division. At the Battle of Gettysburg, the corps was hotly engaged in the battles of the second and third days, encountering there the hardest fighting in its experience, and winning there its grandest laurels; on the second day, in the fighting at the Wheatfield, and on the third, in the repulse of Pickett's Charge, which was mostly directed against Hancock's position. The fighting was deadly in the extreme, the percentage of loss in the 1st Minnesota of Gibbon's Division, being almost without an equal in the records of modern warfare. The loss in the corps was 796 killed, 3,186 wounded, and 368 missing; a total of 4,350 out of less than 10,500 engaged. Gibbon's Division suffered the most, the percentage of loss in Brigadier General William Harrow's 1st Brigade being unusually severe. Hancock and Gibbon were seriously wounded, while of the brigade commanders, Samuel K. Zook, Edward E. Cross, George L. Willard, and Eliakim Sherrill were killed. The monthly return of the corps, June 30, 1863, shows an aggregate of 22,336 borne on the rolls, but shows only 13,056 "present for duty." From the latter deduct the usual proportion of non-combatants—the musicians, teamsters, cooks, servants, and stragglers—and it becomes doubtful if the corps had over 10,000 muskets in line at Gettysburg.

Hancock's wounds necessitated an absence of several months. William Hays was placed in command of the corps immediately after the battle of Gettysburg, retaining the command until August 12, when he was relieved by Major General Gouverneur K. Warren. Warren had distinguished himself at Gettysburg by his quick comprehension of the critical situation at Little Round Top, and by the energetic promptness with which he remedied the difficulty. He had also made a brilliant reputation in the V Corps, and as the chief topographical officer of the Army of the Potomac. He was, subsequently, in command at the Battle of Bristoe Station, a II Corps affair, and one which was noticeable for the dash with which officers and men fought, together with the superior ability displayed by Warren himself. He also commanded at the Battle of Mine Run and Morton's Ford, the divisions at that time being under Generals Caldwell, Alexander S. Webb and Alexander Hays.

Upon the reorganization of the Army of the Potomac, March 23, 1864, the III Corps was discontinued, and two of its three divisions were ordered transferred to the II Corps. Under this arrangement the II Corps was increased to 81 regiments of infantry and 10 batteries of light artillery. The units of the old II Corps were consolidated into two divisions, under Barlow (now a general) and Gibbon; the two divisions of the III Corps were transferred intact, and were numbered as the 3rd and 4th, with Generals David B. Birney and Gershom Mott in command. By this accession, the II Corps attained in April 1864, an aggregate strength of 46,363, with 28,854 present for duty.

Hancock, having partially recovered from his wounds, resumed command, and led his battle-scarred divisions across the Rapidan River. In the Battle of the Wilderness, the corps lost 699 killed, 3,877 wounded, and 516 missing; total, 5,092, half of this loss falling on Birney's 3rd Division. Alexander Hays, commanding the 2nd Brigade of Birney's Division, was among the killed.

At the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House the II Corps again attained a glorious place in history by Hancock's brilliant and successful assault on the morning of May 12. During the fighting around Spotsylvania, Mott's 4th Division became so depleted by casualties, and by the loss of several regiments whose term of service had expired, that it was discontinued and merged into Birney's Division, Mott retaining the command of a brigade. The casualties of the corps in the various actions around Spotsylvania, from May 8 to May 19, aggregated 894 killed, 4,947 wounded, and 801 missing; total 6,642, or over one-third of the loss in the entire Army of the Potomac, including the IX Corps. The heaviest loss occurred in Barlow's 1st Division. Up to this time the II Corps had not lost a color nor a gun, although it had previously captured 44 stands of colors from the enemy.

After more of hard and continuous fighting at the Battle of North Anna, and along the Totopotomoy, the corps reached the memorable field where the Battle of Cold Harbor was fought. While at Spotsylvania it had been reinforced by a brigade of heavy artillery regiments, acting as infantry, and by the brigade known as the Corcoran Legion, so that at Cold Harbor it numbered 53,831, present and absent, with 26,900 "present for duty". Its loss at Cold Harbor including eleven days in the trenches, was 494 killed, 2,442 wounded, and 574 missing; total, 3,510. Birney's Division was but slightly engaged.

In the assaults on the Petersburg entrenchments, June 16 – June 18, the Corps is again credited with the largest casualty list. In one of these attacks, the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery sustained the greatest loss of any regimental organization in any one action during the war. At this time the corps contained 85 regiments; its effective strength, however, was less than at a previous date.

By late June 1864, the II Corps's effectiveness as a fighting force had been severely diminished by almost two months of continuous fighting. Of the approximately 30,000 men in the corps at the start of the Overland Campaign, 20,000 of them had been lost since then, for a 68% casualty rate. Over half the brigade commanders the corps had had in April had been killed or wounded since then, and over 100 regimental commanders. With most of the best officers and men gone, the II Corps went from being the Army of the Potomac's elite shock troops to the smallest and weakest corps in the army.

On June 21–23, the II Corps engaged in the Battle of Jerusalem Plank Road where it tried to extend the army's left flank. A.P. Hill's Confederate troops moved down to oppose them, and the II Corps was repulsed. Actual battlefield casualties were light, however 1,700 men were taken prisoner by the Confederates, including several whole regiments, some of them, such as 15th Massachusetts, once elite outfits.

The corps recrossed the James River, and fought at Deep Bottom, July 26, and again on August 14; then, having returned to the lines around Petersburg, Barlow's and Birney's Divisions were engaged at the Second Battle of Ream's Station, on August 25, in which it lost a large number of men captured.

At the Battle of Boydton Plank Road, October 27, 1864, the division commanders were Generals Thomas W. Egan and Mott, the 1st Division (Nelson A. Miles's), being retained in the trenches. In November, 1864, Hancock was assigned to other duty, and Major General Andrew A. Humphreys, chief of staff to the Army of the Potomac, succeeded to his position. Humphreys was in command during the final campaign, the divisions being under Generals Miles, William Hays, and Mott. The corps fought its last battle at Farmville on April 7, 1865, two days before Lee's surrender. In this final action Brigadier General Thomas A. Smyth of Hays' 2nd Division, was killed. Smyth was an officer with a brilliant reputation, and at one time commanded the famous Irish Brigade.

Recent scholarship notes the quality not just of II Corps' leadership but its individual soldiers, addressing both individual bravery and deep commitment to the Union as depicted in letters and diaries. In spite of homesickness and coming from Democratic homes and ethnic communities which did not favor expanding war aims to emancipation, soldiers of II Corps saw the fighting through, re-enlisting in 1863-4 and voting overwhelmingly for Abraham Lincoln in 1864. Pride in unit featured prominently in post-war reunions, and on the 50th anniversary of Gettysburg Speaker of the House Champ Clark from Missouri referred to soldiers of II Corps as "those unconquerable boys in blue". Unit cohesion ultimately overcame racial antipathies, frustrations and hatreds according to this analysis.

Command history

Edwin V. Sumner March 13, 1862 – October 7, 1862
Darius N. Couch October 7, 1862 – December 26, 1862
John Sedgwick December 26, 1862 – January 26, 1863
Oliver O. Howard January 26, 1863 – February 5, 1863
Darius N. Couch February 5, 1863 – May 22, 1863
Winfield S. Hancock May 22, 1863 – July 1, 1863
John Gibbon July 1, 1863 – July 2, 1863
Winfield S. Hancock July 2, 1863 – July 3, 1863
William Hays July 3, 1863 – August 16, 1863
Gouverneur K. Warren August 16, 1863 – August 26, 1863
John C. Caldwell August 26, 1863 – September 2, 1863
Gouverneur K. Warren       September 2, 1863 – October 10, 1863
John C. Caldwell October 10, 1863 – October 12, 1863
Gouverneur K. Warren October 12, 1863 – December 16, 1863
John C. Caldwell December 16, 1863 – December 29, 1863
Gouverneur K. Warren December 29, 1863 – January 9, 1864
John C. Caldwell January 9, 1864 – January 15, 1864
Gouverneur K. Warren January 15, 1864 – March 24, 1864
Winfield S. Hancock March 24, 1864 – June 18, 1864
David B. Birney June 18, 1864 – June 27, 1864
Winfield S. Hancock June 27, 1864 – November 26, 1864
Andrew A. Humphreys November 26, 1864 – February 15, 1865
Gershom Mott February 15, 1865 – February 17, 1865
Nelson A. Miles February 17, 1865 – February 25, 1865
Andrew A. Humphreys February 25, 1865 – April 22, 1865
Francis C. Barlow April 22, 1865 – May 5, 1865
Andrew A. Humphreys May 5, 1865 – June 9, 1865
Gershom Mott June 9, 1865 – June 20, 1865
Andrew A. Humphreys June 20, 1865 – June 28, 1865

References

  • Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Fox, William F., Regimental Losses in the American Civil War, reprinted by Morningside Bookshop, Dayton, Ohio, 1993, ISBN 0-685-72194-9.
  • Kreiser, Lawrence (April 3, 2012). "The Fighting Second". New York Times. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
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