Today when we get hurt, we can call an ambulance and get whisked away to the hospital quickly. During the Civil War, they did not have the luxuries we do today. In the beginning of the war, there were not enough ambulances to carry all the wounded, so many soldiers died from lack of care. To counter this, the medical director of the Union Army, Dr. Johnathan Letterman, created the first ambulance corps in August of 1862. When this unit was first implemented at the Battle of Antietam, medical personnel were able to remove all of the wounded from the field in just 24 hours, saving hundreds of soldiers' lives.
In a letter home to his family, Alexander Hunter, of the 17th Virginia Infantry [CSA], said,
"...Many became ill from exposure and starvation, and were left on the road. The ambulances were full, and the whole route was marked with a sick, lame, limping lot..."
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The ambulance in front of you is a reproduction of a Tripler Model ambulance from the Civil War. The U.S. Ambulance Corps used this type of ambulance extensively throughout the Civil War, even though it was cumbersome and very heavy. The Tripler ambulance was built to hold ten men; four lying down and six seated. It also required four horses to pull it.
Ambulances at Fort Scott brought Union wounded from battlefields
in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and the Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Here they were treated by surgeons at the U.S. Army General Hospital complex in Fort Scott, which included the 1840s hospital building and surrounding structures.
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Staged image of Zouave soldiers (not at Fort Scott) loading wounded men onto the ambulances.