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June 26, 2012

Report on condition of soldiers in Tennessee and Mississippi – June 26, 1862

Filed under: Civil War Daybook — Lori Williamson @ 9:00 am

A report from J. P. Owens to Governor Ramsey on the condition of Minnesota soldiers in Tennessee and Mississippi.

“St. Paul, June 26th, 1862.
To his Excellency, Alex. Ramsey, Governor of the State of Minnesota:
Sir, IN accordance with your request made in a letter dated at the Executive Department of the State, on the 6th day of May ult., I have, since that time, visited all the military organizations of Minnesota now on duty in the States of Tennessee and Mississippi.
I left St. Paul on the 7th ult.; and after attending to necessary private business on the way, arrived at Cincinnati on the 13th.  I immediately put myself in communication with the Cincinnati branch of the United States Sanitary Commission, in order to ascertain whether there was any of our sick soldiers in the hospitals located in that city and vicinity.  Every facility was afforded me in the most kind and courteous manner. I visited all the hospitals in the city, five in number, and found that what few of our sick had been sent there after the irregularity and confusion necessarily incident to the battle of Shiloh, had become well, and had been discharged and sent home.  I also ascertained from enquiry at official quarters, that none of our sick were at the neighbouring hospitals of Covington, Kentucky, and Camp Dennison.
Through the kindness of Quartermaster General Wright and Surgeon General Webber, of Ohio, I was tendered a pass from Cincinnati to Pillsbury Landing on the Steamer Tycoon, a boat chartered by the State to carry home sick and wounded soldiers of the Ohio army.  On board of her I left Cincinnati; on Friday, May 16th, at eleven o’clock P.M., and without any incident worthy of especial note in this place, arrived at Pillsbury Landing on Monday, the 19th at eight P.M.
Here I was very happy to learn that our old friend, Dr. Chas. McDougall, long stationed in years past as post Surgeon at Fort Snelling, had a short time previous been assigned as Chief Medical Director to the Department of the West, with head quarters at Pillsbury Landing. The next morning after my arrival I visited him at his headquarters, where I found him not only willing to give me all the information in his possession in regard to the health of the Army, but also to furnish me facilities of the first class for passing anywhere I wished within the lines.  Although Dr. Mc Dougall had been but two weeks in the administration of affairs at Pillsbury Landing when I arrived, I was assured by those who ought to and undoubtedly did know, that there was a very marked change for the better in the sanitary condition of the Army.  His long experience with troops at the various posts on the Western frontier, and his thorough knowledge of Western diseases, rendered him probably the most befitting Surgeon in the service for the post he now holds.
In mentioning that it was your desire that our soldiers, disabled from whatever cause, should be conveyed to the hospitals at St. Louis, or others as near home as possible, Dr. McDougall assured me that your wishes had been already anticipated so far as any of our sick had gone forward. They had been since the commencement of his administration, and will continue to be, sent to St. Louis, Quincy, Keokuk, and other places on the Mississippi and in no case would any be sent to Cairo or any of the hospitals on the Ohio river.
On Wednesday, the 21st, through the kindness of Major A. B. Brackett of our cavalry, who had heard of my arrival at the Landing, a horse was sent in for me, and on that evening I arrived among the camps of the Grand Army of the West.  Major Brackett and his battalion I found immediately attached to General Halleck’s headquarters, having been specially detailed by the General as a telegraph guard for the whole army – a just compliment to the efficiency of a Minnesota officer and the officers and men of his command. As here were greater facilities for getting about and for procuring information of all kinds than as any other place within my reach, I freely accepted Major Brackett’s invitation to make his camp my headquarters during my stay.
Only one company of the Minnesota Cavalry was at the time serving in Major B’s battalion, that of Capt. West.  The other Minnesota Company of the battalion, Captain Shelley’s, was on the same duty between Fort Henry and Smithland, Kentucky.  I regretted to find Captain West himself absent in Wisconsin on sick leave, but the health of his company was most excellent.  [...]“

Citation:  June 26, 1862 Letter from J. P. Owens, Letters Received–Sick and Wounded. Minnesota: Governor: Ramsey. Records. Minnesota Historical Society. State Archives. Minnesota Historical Society.

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