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The Soldiers' journal. (Rendezvous of Distribution, Va.) 1864-1865, February 17, 1864, Image 2

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Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89038091/1864-02-17/ed-1/seq-2/

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was lost in transmitting the information by
mail, the detailing of officers by br/gude com
manders, and the arrival of said officers in the
camp, for the purpose of receiving said men.—
About November, '62, the Provost Marshal Gen
eral sent one of his Assistants to locate himself
in Alexandria, for tho purpose of receiving and
forwarding men to their regiments by army
3rd Section—Recruit Camp—was under charge
of Lieut. Col. Prescott. It was for the reception
of recruits, who were forwarded to their regi
ments in the manner indicated above.
Towards the latter part of November, '62, Ma
jor General McCleilan (then commanding the
Army of the Potomac,) sent General Patrick,
Provost Marshal General of the army, to inspect
the camp, with a view to have men forwarded
to their regiments more promptly. Some few
days after said inspection, General McCleilan
issued a general order regulating the details of
camp, and empowering the Major General com
manding the Defenses of Washington, to present
suitable details of officers and men, unfit for du
ty, for the proper conduct and discipline of the
men at Convalescent Camp. Said order limited
the number of officers to not more than one from
a brigade ; also instructing the Major General
commanding the Defenses of Washington, not to
press unequally on details with regiments in the
field. The order also contained instructions that
a list/)f such details be forwarded by the Major
General commanding the Defenses of Washing
ton, to the Headquarters of the army, in order
that such details be published in general orders,
for the guidance of regimental commanders.—
Said list was made out and forwarded to the Ma
jor General, but was never published in general
Captain C. C. Moses was temporarily detailed
as Quartermaster of camp. Not having any ex
perience in that department, (the department was
poorly managed,) he had only nine wagons to
some fifteen to eighteen thousand men. Some
time in December, '62, from the large amount of
complaints forwarded to Washington, the Secre
tary of War ordered Convalescent Camp to be
broken up. Those who were unfit for duty were
to be sent to hospitals ; those fit for duty to their
respective regiments. Some few days afterward
the order was countermanded, and the removal
of camp ordered to its present location, near the
Louden & Hampshire railroad, near Fort Ber
nard, Va.
On December 12, '62, details were made for the
policing of the new camp, and the erection of
barracks. Said details reported to Captain Josh
ua Norton, A. Q. M., of Major General Heintzle
man's staff, who was entrusted with the laying
out and erection of barracks of New Convales
cent Camp.
Before finishing with my remarks on Old Con
valescent Camp, I would state, on the 26th of
December, '62, all men of Old Convalescent Camp
were quartered in tents near the barracks of this
camp, until such time as they were ready for oc
cupation. The Stragglers' and Recruits' Camp
were detached from Convalescent Camp, and re
moved some five hundred rods from its old site.
Colonel J. S. Belknap, commandant of the
camp, used his best endeavors for the best inter
ests of the service while in command of said
camp ; always in his company, I am positive his
intentions were good, although he was not pos
sessed of that executive ability sufficient to meet
the demands of the service.
On tho 3d day of January, 1863, in compliance
With orders from Major General Heintzleman,
Samuel McKelvy, IJeuteriant Chief
Commissary Department of" Washington, as
sumed command of Convalescent Camp, Virgi
nia. At that time the barracks of the camp were
in course of erection, and the men quartered in
tents near by.
On tho morning of January 3d, '63, the morn
ing report showed eighty-three hundred and fifty
eight men; (Convalescent Camp alone,) over
the majority needed speedy examinations by
Surgeons, to decide relative to their final dispo
sition. One Medical Examining Board was in
session at that time examining men sent before
them by the acting Assistant Surgeons in camp.
Surgeon Josiah Curtis, was at thistiihe in charge
of the Medical Department of the camp, but was
soon after relieved and assigned to the charge of
tho Germantown Hospital, He was succeeded by
Surgeon Charles Page, January, '63. Surgeon
Page finding one Board of Examiners not suffi
cient for the number of men requiring examina
tions, made requisition, when two more Boards
in addition to the one in session were ordered to
this camp. Through the exertions of Col. Mc-
Kelvy, the Medical Director of Washington and
Col. Conrad returned promptly to camp such
certificates of disability, forwarded to them, as
in their opinion the candidates were fit and prop
er subjects for discharge the service. Through
the experience and ability of Surgeon Charles
Page, in charge, the Medical Department of the
camp was placed in good working order. San
ford B. Hunt, Surgeon U. S. Vol., relieved Sur
geon Charles Page, U. S. A., in charge of tho
Medical Department of camp.
Dr. Hunt, as President of otM of the Medical
Examining Boards of camp, in January '63, dis
played the qualifications of a thorough medical
officer. His services as such, relieved many who
were in a suffering condition, by discharge the
service, transfered to General Hospital and fur
lough, to experience a change of climate. Sur
geon Hunt still continues as Surgeon In charge
of camp.
Surgeon Hunt having reported to headquarters
of camp, that from one-third to one-fourth of
the men discharged at that time, (January and
February,) although totally unfit for active ser
vice in the field, would prove of great value to
the Government, by having them placed in bat
talions, known as garrison battalions, to perform
light duties in and around the different depart
ments, where they could secure good shelter,
&c, Col. McKelvy at once made out a report
based upon said suggestions, and forwarded it to
Headquarters Department of Washington, for
consideration and action. I have no doubt, had
the suggestions contained in said report received
favorable consideration and action, the garrison
or invalid corps would have relieved all the gar
rison troops in and around the different depart
ments, including provost guards, fortifica
tions, <&c.
In Febuary, 1862, fifty barracks, capable of
accommodating five thousand men, with dining
rooms and cook houses, together with hospitals
for five hundred men, were turned over to Col.
McKelvy by Capt. Joshua Norton, A. Q. M., of
Major General Heintzleman's staff, who had the
erecting of said buildings. In tho erection of
tho buildings ('apt. Norton earned for himself,
in the discharge of his duties, the reputation of
an experienced quartermaster and a thorough
architect. The labor on the buildings was per
formed by soldiers temporarily detailed.
March 15th, 1863, Camp of Distribution, for
merly known as Stragglers Camp and Recruit
Camp, were removed within the lines of Conva
lescent Camp. Both of tho above mentioned
camps of this command were under Ihe charge
of Captain J. J. Upham, 6th U. S. Inf. While in
charge, Capt. Upham discharged the duties of
his position in a manner highly creditable to
himself and the service, and loft with tho regrets
of the officers.
Convalescent Camp is situated between Fair
fax Seminary and Long Bridge. It contains
fifty barracks, capable of accommodating five
thousand men. The Medical Department has
buildings for five hundred patients. The follow
ing are the officers of camp headquarters :
SAMUEL McKELVY, Lieut. Col. and C, 8.,
R. P. Crawford, Capt. and A. A. Gen'h
Sanford B. Hunt, Surgeon in Charge
F. T. Stewart, Lieut, commanding Camp
The camps are divided off as follows :
Ist Division —Commanded by Capt. H. B. Pax
ton, sth P. R. V. C, comprising mon of regi
ments fromPenn'a. State and U. S. regulars.
2d Division —Commanded by Capt. H. B. Pax
ton, sth P. R. V. C, comprising men of regi
ments from Now York State.
3d Division —Commanded by Capt. J.N. P.
Bird, 7th Wisconsin Vol., comprising men of
regiments from the Eastern States.
4th Division —Commanded by , compris
ing men of regiments from Western and South
ern States and N. J.
The workings of Divisions are as follows:
The men aro divided off into barracks of one
hundred men each ; a non-commissioned officer
is in charge of a barrack. These non-commis
sioned officers aro designated as ward masters.
They are held responsible for the proper conduct
and dicipline of the men—to have roll-call, note
the arrivals and departures of the men, and re
port the fact to division commanders daily or
Attached to each division is an acting Assistant
Surgeon, whose duties are to examine the men
of their division daily. Those whom they think
fit subjects for the Invalid Corps, for discharge
the service, or fit for duty, are sent to Camp Dis
tribution, to be forwarded to their regiments in
the manner indicated hereafter. Those for the
Invalid Corps or discharge the service, are sent
before the Examining Board, and from these to
the Surgeon in Charge, whose decision is final
in their cases.
Commanders of divisions have on every occa
sion proved themselves to be fully competent to
take charge of from five hundred to fifteen
dred men. The cleanliness of the barracks,
neatness of the men, and the good order aud __■•
(upline of the camp is due to the exertions of
those officers in rigidly enforcing the orders of *
The Medical Department of the camp, under
charge of Surgeon Sanford B. Hunt, can com
pare safely with any institution of its nature
alia 'hod to the service. The amount of respon
sibility on Dr. Hunt, is large, always strict and
attentive to his duties. His natural executive
qualifications has won him many warm friends.
Characteristic to the Doctor, he has a word of
comfort always for the sick and disabled sol
The Quartermasters Department, under charge
of Captain John A. Elison, A. Q. M., has suita-
Viltt I iii i I,) i ncra fir»r t.ha rxmtant.i ran nf nnhlln ni._,ru»«-L

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