American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

Surgical Set collection from 1860 to 1865 - Civilian and Military

Civil War:  Medicine, Surgeon Education & Medical Textbooks

 Dr. Michael Echols  &  Dr. Doug Arbittier

 

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Arthur White, M.D.,

Civil War Asst. Surgeon

From the Medical and Surgical History data base

HDQRS. TWENTY-FIFTH REGIMENT INDIANA VOLUNTEERS,
Fort Donelson, Tenn., February 18, 1862.

 

In compliance with your order I herewith respectfully submit a report of the part taken by the Twenty-fifth Regiment Indiana Volunteers in the actions which took place between our forces and the rebels' on the left wing of our army on the 13th and 15th days of February, 1862, at Fort Donelson.

 

The Twenty-fifth Indiana Regiment marched with the brigade from Fort Henry on the 12th of February, and bivouacked at night on the extreme left of our lines, within less than half a mile of the enemy. Everything remained quiet during the night. At 10 o'clock a.m. on the 13th we moved forward in line of battle to the top of the hill which was between us and the enemy's breastworks. Here I received your order to fix bayonets and charge the rebels, and, if possible, drive them from their works. The timber was so thick that we could only see here and there a part of the rebel works, but could form no idea of their range or extent. I sent forward, as directed, the flank companies--A and B, Captains Saltzman and Rheinlander--to deploy as skirmishers, which they did most admirably, and the regiment moved forward on the charge. Our flank companies as they advanced found the enemy's works extended far to our left., and they very properly moved to the left and took position on a hill, where they did valuable service by preventing a fire on our flank from the enemy's rifle pits, and in keeping silent a 6-pounder field piece that was brought to bear on us from that direction. At the foot of the hill the enemy poured on us a terrible fire of musketry, grape, and canister, with a few shells.

 

The rebel breastworks were now in plain view on the top of the hill. The heavy timber on the hill-side had been felled, forming a dense mass of brush and logs. Through and over these obstacles our men advanced against the enemy's fire with perfect coolness and steadiness, never halting for a moment until they received your order. After a halt of a few minutes they again advanced within a short distance of the enemy's breastworks, when their fire from a 6-pounder field piece and 12-pounder howitzer on our right was so destructive, that it became necessary to halt and direct the men to lie down to save us from very heavy loss. After remaining under a very heavy fire for two hours and fifteen minutes, with no opportunity to return the fire to advantage, the enemy being almost entirely hid, and seeing no movement indicating a further advance from any part of the line, I asked your permission to withdraw <ar7_228> my regiment, to save it from heavy loss where we could do no good. In retiring, owing to the nature of the ground and our exposed position, the men were thrown into slight confusion, but they rallied promptly at the foot of the hill and remained in that position until night, when we moved back, as directed by you, to the ground we occupied in the morning. We lost in this action 14 killed and 61 wounded.

 

On the 14th considerable firing was kept up between our skirmishers and the enemy's sharpshooters, but nothing of importance occurred.

 

On the 15th, at 2 o'clock p.m., we formed a line of battle, and I sent forward Company B, Captain Rheinlander, to deploy as skirmishers and advance in front of the regiment. This order he executed promptly, and moved his company forward at double-quick. A few moments after, the order came to me to move my regiment by the left flank and follow to support the Fifty-second Indiana and Second Iowa Regiments. This movement left Captain Rheinlander without support, but he advanced boldly to the enemy's rifle pits to the right of the point where they were being attacked by the Second Iowa and drove back the enemy, and was among the first, if not the very first, of our forces that mounted the breastworks.

 

We moved by the left flank to the creek bottom on our left and beyond some old houses, where the left halted and the right was brought forward, and we advanced in line of battle up the hill on the run, and entered the enemy's works at the point where they had been taken by the Second Iowa. We pushed forward across the field in the direction of the heaviest firing until we reached the bottom of a deep hollow. Here we halted to form our line, which was somewhat broken in advancing, and prepared to move forward, but seeing the forces in front of us slowly retiring, we remained in line to cover them, and when they had all passed by us we marched back in good order to the breastworks, which we held during the night. Our loss in this action was 40 wounded, many of them severely.

 

I cannot bestow too high praise on the conduct of the officers in both of these actions. To Lieutenant-Colonel Morgan and Major Foster I am much indebted for the fearless and energetic manner in which they discharged their duties. Their conduct is worthy of the highest commendation. Adjutant Walker and Sergeant-Major Jones were brave, prompt, and faithful, and were ever ready to carry orders in the thickest of the fight. Captain Laird, of Company K, was severely wounded in the leg on the 13th while leading his company to the charge. He refused to leave the field, and when at last he was compelled to leave he cheered his men when he retired. Captains Saltzman and Rheinlander, commanding the flank companies, rendered very valuable service, and were often placed in exposed positions. The other captains and lieutenants, almost without exception, displayed great courage and energy, and are worthy of the highest praise. I could not mention one without naming all. The regimental band and chaplain were actively engaged in removing the wounded from the field and providing for their wants at the hospital The conduct of the surgeon and assistant surgeon is esteemed worthy of especial mention. Asst. Surg. Arthur White devoted himself to relieving the wants of the wounded and suffering at the hospital, while the principal surgeon, l)r. John T. Walker, followed the regiment to the field, and received the wounded as they fell in the fight. It was the first time that our men had ever been exposed to the fire, and they stood it with the firmness of veterans. Many instances of personal courage and good conduct of non-commissioned officers and men occurred, but so numerous were they, that it would be difficult to point out particular cases. The conduct of the various companies was uniformly good and worthy of the highest praise. The loss on the second day was not so great as the first, although the fire was more severe, but we were not so much exposed to the fire of grape, which was very destructive on the first day. Inclosed I send a list of the killed and wounded.(*)

 

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,

 JAMES C. VEATCH,

 Colonel Twenty-fifth Regiment Indiana Volunteers.

(The personal edited research notes of Michael Echols, the source of which may or may not be completely documented)

 

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Civil War Medical Collections 

 

Direct links to all medical & Civil War collections on this site                         

American Surgical Sets:

Pre-Civil War:  1 | 2  -   Post-Civil War:  3  -  Civil War 1861-1865:  4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8   INDEX

Medical Text-Books:

1 | 1a | 2 | 2a | 3 | 3a | 4 | 4a | 5 | 5a | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 9a | 10 | 11 | 12    INDEX

Surgeon General's Office Library printed catalogues: 1840 | 1864 | 1865
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INDEX

Navy Surgeon Exams:

1863 Navy Surgeon Applicant Exams with Biographies   INDEX ONE | INDEX TWO

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American Civil War Medicine & Surgical Antiques

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Last update: Monday, December 12, 2016