KanColl: The Kansas Historical Quarterlies



An Army Hospital:
From Dragoons to Rough Riders
-- Fort Riley, 1853-1903

by George E. Omer, Jr.

Winter, 1957 (Vol. XXIII, No. 4), pages 337 to 367
Transcription & HTML composition by Larry E. & Carolyn L. Mix;
digitized with permission of The Kansas State Historical Society.
NOTE: The numbers in brackets are links to footnotes for this text.

Editor's Introductory Note

     Although this article deals with the medical history of Fort Riley, Kansas, it is a vivid picture of army life on the frontier. Cholera, surgery without anesthesia, alcoholics on a whisky ration of three quarts a day -- these were some of the problems faced by the army physician. Of the medical officers who served at Riley, seven became surgeons general of the army. The first Congressional Medal of Honor went to a doctor who served there. The first president of the association of military surgeons of the United States was a Fort Riley post surgeon, who later became president of the American Medical Association. Of special interest -- and value -- are the biographical sketches, many of men who became famous in the annals of army medicine.
I. The Temporary Hospital

THE Westward expansion of the youthful United States burst into the territory of Missouri following the War of 1812. The early explorers into the Indian country (which included present Kansas) followed the prehistoric river routes both southwest and northwest to establish trade. The first successful commercial trip to Santa Fe was made along the Arkansas river in 1821 by Capt. William Becknell from Franklin, Mo. In 1822 the Rocky Mountain Fur Company was organized at St. Louis and extended its business into the valleys of the Missouri and Platte rivers. John C. Fremont's Oregon expedition camped at the junction of the Republican and Smoky Hill rivers in 1843. He reported great numbers of elk, antelope, buffalo, and Indians in the vicinity where Fort Riley would be established in one short decade.

     The Indians resented the invasion of their lands. Their resistance was so successful that in the spring of 1829, Maj. Bennet Riley was ordered to take four companies of the Sixth infantry from Fort Leavenworth and accompany a trading caravan to Santa Fe. This was the first military escort of a wagon train. The traders were protected by the soldiers until the train crossed the Arkansas river, since the territory south of the river was Mexico. The Mormon migration in 1847 and the gold rush of 1849 greatly increased the travel over all the trails. The first overland mail and stage route was established in 1849 as a monthly service across present Kansas from Independence, Mo., to Santa Fe, with Council Grove as the only town down the 775-mile trail. This westward migration was patrolled and protected by the army, which was so thin-spread that in 1859 there were only three regiments of cavalry, and these horse units were still being called dragoons or mounted riflemen.

     Col. Thomas T. Fauntleroy, commanding the First dragoons at Fort Leavenworth, urged the establishment of a military station at the junction of the Smoky Hill and Republican rivers as an outpost for more efficient defense of the Oregon and Santa Fe trails. A board of four officers, including Brev. Maj. Edmund A. Ogden, who was quartermaster at Fort Leavenworth, was appointed to locate the new post near the fork of the Pawnee (Kansas) river. The board and a detachment of First dragoons established a camp at the present site of Fort Riley. The new station was first called Camp Center because it was believed that its location was close to the geographical center of the United States.

     In May, 1853, Capt. Charles S. Lovell commanded a second expedition and established the first post of temporary buildings with Companies B, F, and H of the Sixth infantry, in accordance with Order No. 9, Headquarters Sixth Military District, Jefferson Barracks, Mo.

     The only muster and pay roll of the medical department issued from Camp Center listed Joseph K. Barnes as surgeon and Ann McCarrol as the hospital matron. This first surgeon in charge of the Fort Riley hospital became Surgeon General of the Army in 1864 and held the position until 1882. He was born in Philadelphia in 1817 and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in 1838. He joined the army as an assistant surgeon in 1840 and was a brilliant brigade medical officer in the Mexican war. After his tour at Fort Riley, he was assigned to duty in Washington and was promoted to medical inspector, with the rank of colonel in 1863.



Joseph K. Barnes
Joseph K. Barnes
(1817-1883)
The first post surgeon,
who also was the first senior medical officer
to become a major general.

Photo courtesy the
National Archives and the Armed Forces Medical Library.



     Barnes received the first major general rank (brevet) awarded to the senior medical officer of the army when he became surgeon general in 1864. While he was surgeon general he succeeded in removing hospital food from the jurisdiction of the commissary department; he placed the medical department in charge of ambulances instead of the quartermaster corps; and generally succeeded in bringing the military hospitals, as well as the transportation of the wounded, under the control of medical officers. Barnes' friendly relation with Secretary of War Stanton fostered the establishment of the army medical museum and library, better known today as the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and The National Library of Medicine. He had prepared and published the Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion an important contribution that is still used for reference work. Doctor Barnes dressed Secretary of State Seward's wounds on the night of April 14, 1865, and was in attendance at President Lincoln's deathbed. He also attended President Garfield after he had been shot by an assassin. He died in 1883, only one year after retirement from office.

     To return to the fort. War Department General Order No. 17, dated June 27, 1853, permanently changed the name of Camp Center to Fort Riley in honor of Maj. Gen. Bennet Riley. Riley, who commanded the first wagon train escort over the Santa Fe trail, was born in Alexandria, Va., in 1787. He entered the army as an ensign of rifles when he was 16 years of age. He succeeded Col. Henry Leavenworth in command of Fort Leavenworth, and became a colonel in the First infantry on January 31, 1850. He was promoted to major general for his gallant conduct in the Mexican war under Gen. Winfield Scott. In 1847 Bennet Riley acted as the last territorial governor of California. He died in Buffalo, N. Y., on June 9, 1853. Thus Fort Riley was named for an infantry officer who never saw the post.

     The army appropriated $65,000 for the erection of temporary buildings at the new post. Supplies were moved to the station by steamboat and overland freight wagons. The Excel, a small steamer, made several supply trips up the Kansas river from Weston, Mo. River navigation was extremely difficult and finally one steamboat was so firmly grounded that she was abandoned. Mule teams from Fort Leavenworth were substituted as the primary method of transportation. This military road had started as an Indian trail and extended west from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Riley. The firm of Russell, Majors, and Waddell established an extensive outfitting base at Leavenworth for this freighting trade and later inaugurated the Pony Express. Much of the food for the men and animals at Fort Riley was purchased from the nearest settlement, Saint Mary's mission, 42 miles east along the military road.

     When the temporary post was being built the construction crews selected a parade-size field on a flat ledge of rimrock north of the Kansas river and above the marshy flat of Whiskey Lake. One of the buildings was the hospital, located on the present-day lower parade ground between Patton Hall and the Administration building. The locks, hinges, and hasps on the one-story hospital were hand-forged at the building site from scrap metal, wheel rims, old sabers, and plow shares. Pine and oak were used for lumber and the building boasted the luxury of a veranda along its front or north wall.

     In December, 1853, Asst. Surg. Aquila Talbot Ridgely was the doctor in charge of the temporary hospital and T. W. Simson was the acting hospital steward. The hospital staff included three male soldier attendants, one soldier cook, and the hospital matron, Ann McCarrol. Surgeon Ridgely was born in Maryland and resigned June 23, 1861, to join the Confederate forces as a surgeon.

     In May, 1854, Kansas was organized as a territory. There were no white settlements in the new territory except at Forts Leavenworth, Scott, and Riley, in addition to the Indian missions and agencies. On October 4, Andrew H. Reeder, of Pennsylvania, arrived as territorial governor. He set up his office at Fort Leavenworth. On April 16, 1855, Reeder issued a proclamation requesting that the first territorial legislature meet at the new town of Pawnee, which was located at the present site of Camp Whitside and the cantonment hospital on the Fort Riley reservation.

     The Pawnee Town Site Association had been organized September 27, 1854. The association consisted of Major Montgomery, Second infantry, commanding officer of Fort Riley, 13 other army officers, five civil territorial officers, and five civilians. The army officers included Surg. Madison Mills, Asst. Surg. William A. Hammond, and Asst. Surg. James Simons. In July, 1855, after Reeder's proclamation, a resurvey of the boundaries of the Fort Riley military reservation was ordered by Jefferson Davis, the Secretary of War. The new survey found that the reservation included the new town of Pawnee and the settlement was removed from the reservation. Major Montgomery, for granting the land to the Pawnee Town Association, was court-martialed and dismissed from the army on December 8, 1855. The trial was held at Fort Leavenworth with Robert E. Lee among the members of the court-martial board.

II. Cholera Epidemic

     In the summer of 1855 all troops at Fort Riley had left for campaigns against the Indians, so that of the military there was left only Asst. Surg. James Simons, John A. Charters, a private of Sixth infantry acting as hospital steward, and Chaplain Clarkson. The hospital steward combined the duties of druggist, medical clerk, and storekeeper as well as assistant to the surgeon. Asst. Surg. James Simons had been the physician in charge of the hospital since April, 1854. The hospital stewards had been Cpl. Jacob Hommes and Private Charters of the Sixth infantry. Margaret O. D. Donnall was the hospital matron.



Original Hospital, about 1854
Original temporary hospital, about 1854.



     Maj. Edmund A. Ogden returned from Fort Leavenworth to command the station and supervise the permanent construction of Fort Riley. The actual construction crews were civilians under the supervision of a Mr. Sawyer, the architect and general superintendent. Ogden was appointed to the United States Military Academy in 1827 and served in many posts throughout his brief career. He participated in the Seminole war, the occupation of Texas from 1845 to 1846 and in the Mexican war from 1846 to 1847. He began construction at Riley during the first week of July, 1855.

     Tragedy struck during the night of August 1 when cholera rapidly developed into an epidemic. Without the healing aid of 20th century intravenous therapy, the bacillus of cholera produces a usually fatal diarrhea. Patients soon filled the temporary hospital and created a mountainous problem of nursing, washing bedding, and cleaning the patients. The camp was filled with panic when it was discovered that Major Ogden was ill. A rider was sent to Fort Leavenworth with a letter requesting medical help. Sawyer appointed men to act as nurses and promised extra pay, but only a few wanted to work at the hospital where the dead were being coffined and carried out by burial parties while new patients took their places. The heroic effort required to attend the men in the agonies of the fatal disease proved too much for Asst. Surg. James Simons, and his mental breakdown was complete after Major Ogden died on the third. In desperation he deserted the hospital and his patients, collected his family and fled east to Saint Mary's mission during the night.



Asst. Surg. James Simons
James Simons
The physician who deserted his medical post during
the desastrous cholera epidemic of August 1855.

Photo courtesy the
National Archives and the Armed Forces Medical Library.



     On August 4, hope came on horseback from Dyer's bridge, 19 miles east on the military road near present-day Manhattan. Dr. Samuel Whitehorn, recently from Michigan, had heard of the epidemic while at Dyer's bridge and came to offer his services to the hospital steward. He was youthful in appearance and manner, and for fear of doubts of his being really a doctor, he showed the steward his diploma and other testimonials from his patients at Dyer's bridge. Doctor Whitehorn's presence renewed confidence, and a spoonful of brandy or port wine by the physician's order gave relief from anxiety if not death. In addition, Whitehorn ordered barrels of pine tar to be burned at the open windows of the hospital. If this served no other purpose, it counteracted the offensive odors.

     Relief came on August 6, 1855, when a four-mule government ambulance arrived from Fort Leavenworth with Lt. Eugene Carr and Dr. Samuel Phillips, a contract physician. While Carr received an account of the situation from Sawyer, Phillips proceeded at once to the hospital for consultation with Doctor Whitehorn. With good nursing and encouragement, each day brought fewer cases and the epidemic was broken. Dr. Samuel Phillips volunteered for his relief duty to Gen. E. V. Sumner, then commanding Fort Leavenworth. General Sumner had asked each of the many physicians practicing in the city of Leavenworth but all had declined the service except Phillips. Doctor Phillips was paid less than $40 for his hazardous tour of duty.

     Maj. John Sedgwick, artillery, came to Fort Riley in October, 1855, to investigate the cholera epidemic and especially Asst. Surg. James Simon's conduct. The doctor was court-martialed and dismissed from army service on January 15, 1856, for his failure. However, he was reinstated on October 24 of the same year and was breveted a colonel on March 13, 1865, for faithful and meritorious service during the Civil War.

     Somewhere between 75 and 100 persons died in the cholera epidemic of 1855 and were buried in the present cemetery. Lead linings from tea caddies were procured from the commissary to make an airtight coffin for Major Ogden. However, wooden headboards were used to mark the graves and the headboards were subsequently destroyed in a prairie fire set by Indians. Today, a grassy area is set aside in the post cemetery with a few stones set at random to indicate the resting place of the victims.

III. The First Permanent Hospital

     Asst. Surg. William A. Hammond was recalled from the troops in the field and took charge of the hospital on August 31, 1855. His staff included Mary Miller, who was paid $6.00 a month as the hospital matron. Hammond was born in Annapolis, Md., in 1828 and received his degree in medicine from New York University in 1848. He had been on active army duty for five years when he first came to Fort Riley in 1854. His controversial personality often brought him personal problems. He owned slaves at Fort Riley but quickly joined the Union forces when war came. He witnessed the marriage ceremony of one of his subordinates, Cpl. Robert Allender, after the post commander, Major Montgomery, had refused permission for the wedding. For this escapade Surgeon Hammond was promptly placed in arrest but was afterward released. In spite of these idiosyncrasies, Hammond brought to his frontier medical duties the unbounded energy and practical foresight that characterized his future achievements. In the summer of 1855 he served as medical director of a large force operating against the Sioux Indians and was medical officer with an expedition which located a road to Bridger's pass in the Rocky Mountains.



Asst. Surg. William A. Hammond
William A. Hammond
(1828-1900)
A controversial figure who make sweeping improvements
in the army medical service while serving as U. S. surgeon general.

Photo courtesy the
National Archives and the Armed Forces Medical Library.



     After this field trip he remained the chief surgeon at the Fort Riley hospital until December, 1856. Perhaps his experiences in Kansas were the basis for his future sweeping improvement of the army medical service when he achieved high position. After completing his Fort Riley tour and ten years at frontier stations, he resigned from the army to teach anatomy and physiology at the University of Maryland, but re-entered the service within two years because of the outbreak of war. When the United States Sanitary Commission was formed in 1861 as an advisory body to the army medical bureau, the members sponsored a new surgeon general. Hammond was chosen, and he received the first general officer rank ever awarded to the senior medical officer in the army. He worked to produce great improvements in battlefield evacuation of the wounded, hospital administration, and medical supplies. One little known contribution was his action in removing calomel and tartar emetic from the medical supply table, thus removing items having as long and as worthless a medical history as venesection. Other practical improvements included such minor items as the provision of hospital clothing for patients.

     As a result of quarrels with Secretary of War Stanton, Hammond was suspended as surgeon general in 1863 and charged with irregularities in contracts. He appealed to President Lincoln to be restored to his position or be tried by court-martial. After a session prolonged for many months, a military court found him guilty and sentenced him to dismissal. Hammond soon established himself as a leading physician in New York City, and was a pioneer in the practice and teaching of neurology, holding the professorship of nervous and mental diseases at Bellevue Hospital Medical College and subsequently at New York University. He wrote numerous medical articles, and co-operated in the founding and editing of the New York Medical Journal and the Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases. In 1878 his military dismissal case was reviewed and the verdict of the court-martial was reversed, with Hammond being honorably retired from the army. He died in 1900.

     As stated, Hammond left Riley in December, 1856. The first permanent post hospital had been finished in the fall of 1855. Slightly southeast of the new building was the old temporary hospital which had been used during the cholera epidemic. The old temporary hospital was converted into quarters for the hospital steward. The new permanent hospital was constructed of native limestone with a wooden veranda on two sides and surrounded by a wooden picket fence. The north hospital section contained the surgeon's offices and was two stories high, with a long one-story wing extending to the south. The first permanent hospital in 1855 was later remodeled and is now the Administration building (30) on the lower parade ground.

     In October, 1855, six companies of the Second dragoons arrived at Fort Riley from Texas under the command of Lt. Col. Philip St. George Cooke. The Second dragoons later were called the Second cavalry and the history of the regiment is closely connected with the post of Fort Riley and the cavalry school. Asst. Surg. Robert Southgate arrived with the Second dragoons and assisted Surgeon Hammond at the post hospital. Pvt. Charles Harling, Second dragoons, was also added to the hospital staff as an acting hospital steward.

     In December, 1856, Asst. Surg. Richard H. Coolidge became the post surgeon at Fort Riley. His sanitary report in June, 1857, included a discussion of the topography of the post, a record of the weather, and the chief causes of sickness:

     Intemperance has been the fruitful cause of both diseases and injuries. The extent to which this vice prevailed may in part be inferred from the number of cases of delirium tremens reported. During the year previous to my joining this station, say from October 1, 1855, to September 30, 1856, six cases of delirium tremens are reported, the average strength of the command being 392. From October 1, 1856, to June 30, 1857, nine months, there occurred sixteen cases in a command averaging 335. From the statements of convalescents and from other sources, I am satisfied that three quarts of whisky was the customary daily allowance of quite a number of men; one quart, as they expressed it, being required "to set them up before breakfast." It appeared to me that larger quantities of opium were necessary in the treatment of these excessive drinkers than in ordinary cases of delirium tremens.

     Four cases of scorbutus are reported in March, and others occurred among the hired men of the quartermaster's department. Scarlatina and variola, which have prevailed to a very considerable extent in some of the eastern cities, have also appeared here. The vaccine virus for which I applied on the 18th of February did not arrive until the 8th of May. I had fortunately obtained from Surgeon Abadie, at St. Louis, through Surgeon Cuyler, at Fort Leavenworth, part of a crust of vaccine virus, with which and its proceeds all the command who required protection were vaccinated. The first case of scarlatina occurred on the 23rd of May in the person of a Dragoon. So far as I could learn, no case had previously occurred in this vicinity. The disease was severe from the beginning, attended with much cerebral disturbance, and an extremely sore mouth and throat. He had passed the febrile stage, and the period of desquamation was nearly complete, when he escaped from his ward one cool morning soon after daylight, and ran unclothed to the company gardens. Dropsy of the abdomen and anasarca supervened -- the left thigh being the first to swell -- which finally terminated in death. Hospital Steward Drennan, who had been exposed to the first case, was the next person attacked, and though for a time dangerously ill, he now has recovered. Several children at the post have sickened with this disease, and it is still occurring among them.

     The surgical cases occurring up to the date of my special report of February 16, 1857, are sufficiently noted therein, and I have only to add in regard to one of those cases, that of gangrene of the feet requiring amputation of both legs, that it terminated favorable. A small party of emigrants were attacked on the 7th of June, about eighty miles from this post, by a band of Cheyennes. Four men were killed, two wounded, and one young woman severely wounded in the back and side. They made their way on foot to the nearest settlements, having been six days without food. The wounded were conveyed from their first place of refuge to this post, and have since been attended by myself.

     Surgeon Coolidge also reported on the long--continued drought, the condition of the crops, the mean difference between the thermometer and hygrometer, and rainfall compared with previous years. Coolidge was born in New York state. He was appointed as assistant surgeon on August 16, 1841, and became a major surgeon June 26, 1860. He was breveted a lieutenant colonel on March 13, 1865, and died January 23, 1866.

     Maj. Surg. Thomas C. Madison became post surgeon of Fort Riley in April, 1858. He was assisted by Hospital Steward Henry Lamp, who was the first actual hospital steward assigned to Fort Riley, since all previous stewards were enlisted men from line units acting in the capacity of steward. The hospital staff was completed by two male enlisted cooks, four male enlisted nurses, and two matrons -- Mary Nash and Hannah Frame. Madison was born in Virginia and was appointed an assistant surgeon February 27, 1840. He was promoted to major surgeon August 29, 1856. He resigned from federal service August 17, 1861, and was a surgeon for the Confederacy from 1861 to 1865. He died November 7, 1866.

     In August, 1860, Maj. Surg. Madison Mills was in charge of the fort hospital. He had previously been associated with Fort Riley as a member of the Pawnee Town Site Association. He joined the army as an assistant surgeon April 1, 1834, and was promoted to major surgeon February 16, 1847. He was breveted lieutenant colonel and colonel on November 29, 1864, for meritorious service at the siege of Vicksburg. He was promoted to brigadier general on March 13, 1865. Mills died April 28, 1873.

     Surgeon Mills made the periodic weather summaries, considered so important at that time as an influencing factor on disease. A system of observations and reports of weather was made by the surgeons at all military stations, and was the only weather service of the United States for more than half a century. This medical service resulted finally in the creation of a signal corps in the army in 1863, with Surg. Albert J. Meyer as the first chief of corps. Meteorological work was given to the weather bureau in 1890.

IV. The Civil War

     Fort Riley was a child of the frontier and the post was neglected by Washington from the time the permanent buildings were constructed until the end of the Civil War. To protect the communication-transportation routes and the Western settlements from Indian attack, the garrison was composed of varied volunteer cavalry units that included the 11th and 15th Kansas, the 7th Iowa, and the 2d Colorado.

     Asst. Surg. Fred P. Drew was the post surgeon from August, 1861, until his death at Fort Riley on March 20, 1864. He was born in Waterbury, Vt., 1829, and retained an interest in collecting fauna all his life. The Smithsonian Institution in Washington probably owes its collection of early Kansas fauna to Doctor Drew. Among his papers was a bill for three lizards, one frog, one tortoise, one beaver, and two nests of eggs which he collected, boxed, and shipped to the Smithsonian Institution in December, 1862. His hospital staff included Essex Camp as hospital steward, Elford E. Lee as wardmaster, and Mary Lee as hospital matron.

     The military physicians had a rural practice which extended beyond Fort Riley for a radius of 50 miles. The doctor used fitted saddle bags to carry his drugs or a medical chest was placed in his mule-drawn ambulance wagon. Some items indicative of the pharmacopedia of the mid-19th century would include: alum, as a gargle for sore throat; balsam copaiva, used for gonorrhea; blister plaster, for application to stop pains about the lungs; spirit of camphor, used in typhus fever; flax seed, made into a tea useful in lung fever; quinine, for intermittent fevers; opium, for pain; tartaric acid, used as a beverage in scurvy. Among the instruments and utensils were included lancets, penis syringes, cylster syringes (enema), gum elastic catheter, bougies, tooth pliers, curved needles and waxed thread. Some physicians had a cylinder stethoscope. Leeches were still carried and blood letting was often practiced. To practice medicine with this medical armament the Fort Riley surgeon was paid $80.00 a month.

     In June, 1864, Jeremiah Sabin signed the report of sick and wounded as "Citizen (Contract) Surgeon." Doctor Sabin had been recruited from the Fort Riley region and continued as a contract physician for a year. He was a note of continuity during that time along with Hospital Stewards Essex Camp and E. Norris Stearns. Military physicians came and left, including: Acting Asst. Surg. Irving J. Pollock in October, 1864, Asst. Surg. George S. Akin in December, 1864, Asst. Surg. Thomas B. Harbison in February, 1865, and Acting Asst. Surg. W. C. Finlaw in August, 1865.



First permanent hospital about 1865
First permanent hospital, about 1865.
Now the Fort Riley museum.



     In the midst and in spite of this confusion, the hospital continued to function, as announced in a newspaper story of February 4, 1865:

     E. Norris Stearns, Hospital Steward, arrived on the 20th from Leavenworth, with a bountiful supply of Sanitary stores, consisting of Canned-fruits, Dried-apples; Pickles; Codfish; Cordials; Clothing; and other good things for our sick -- Received through the hands of Mr. Brown, Agent for the Western Sanitary Commission.
V. The Indian-Fighting Medics

     During the days of Indian uprisings on the frontier, Fort Riley grew in stature from a supply base for summer campaigns to the formal status of the cavalry and light artillery school.

     The Second cavalry was the first regular army unit to return to Fort Riley from the Civil War. The army was again thinly spread and overworked, as indicated by the stations occupied by the Second cavalry: regimental headquarters, band, and Company E at Fort Riley; Companies A and B at Fort Kearny, Neb.; Company C at Fort Hays; Company D at Fort Lyon, Colo.; Company F at Fort Ellsworth (Harker); Companies G and I at Fort Leavenworth; Company H at Pond Creek (Fort Wallace); Company K at Fort Dodge; Company L at Fort Larned; and Company M at Fort Aubrey.

     The Seventh cavalry was organized at Fort Riley in September, 1866, under an act of congress of July 28, 1866. Andrew J. Smith, a veteran of the Mexican and Civil wars, was colonel, and George A. Custer was its lieutenant-colonel. (It was this year that the Union Pacific railroad reached the fort.)

     The post surgeon and probably the first regimental surgeon for the Seventh cavalry was Brev. Lt. Col. and Surg. Bernard John Dowling Irwin. Irwin had been post surgeon since April, 1866, and for the fighting "Garry Owens" a more distinguished fighting medical officer could not have been selected than the first winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

     Irwin was born in Ireland June 24, 1830. He was educated by private tutors, at the University of New York, the Castleton Vermont Medical College, and received his doctor of medicine in 1852 from the New York Medical College. His military interest led him to be a private in the Seventh regiment of the New York National Guard from 1848 to 1851 and he was commissioned as first lieutenant assistant surgeon on August 28, 1856. He was promptly ordered to frontier service in New Mexico and Arizona. At this point the following account written by Irwin will give a vivid description of this individual, his skill, endurance, and bravery:

     On the 16th of September, 1858, I was requested to visit one of the stations of the Southern Overland Mail Company, where a number of men were reported to have been dangerously wounded. I set out at once, and arrived at the place early the next morning, after a smart ride of one hundred and fifteen miles, but found that three of the four wounded men had already died. The history of the survivor, Silas St. John, a strong robust, healthy young man of twenty-four, a native of New York City, was as follows: He, with three Americans and three Mexican boys, was engaged in keeping the mail station.

     On the evening of the eighth, one of the latter was placed on guard, and the remainder of the party retired to rest for the night; about midnight the Mexicans arose, and with axes and a large hammer attempted to murder their sleeping companions. St. John awoke, and hearing blows given, was in the act of springing from his bed when he received a terrible blow from an axe, which almost severed his left arm from his body, followed quickly by another that cut the fleshy part of the same arm in a shocking manner; this was succeeded by another stroke that cut through the anterior external portion of the right thigh, a short distance below the joint. By this time he succeeded in grasping his pistol, and having fired at the desperate assassins, they fled and were seen no more.

     One of the unfortunate victims who slept outside, of the door of the rude shed never awoke; another, with his face and head frightfully chopped and mangled, lived in great agony until the evening of the next day; while a third, whose head was almost cloven in two, the brain continually oozing from the shattered skull, lingered until the sixth day, during which time his frenzied craving for water to quench his burning thirst was of the most heart-rending character. On the evening of the next day the mail stage came by and found St. John, the only survivor of his party, alone in a rude hovel in the wilderness, without food or water, unable to move; his wounds undressed, stiffened, and full of loathsome magots; his companions had died one by one a horrible death, and lastly, to add to the horrors of his suffering, the hungry wolves and ravens came and banquetted upon the putrefying corpse of one of his dead companions which lay but a few feet from his desolate bed. The mental and physical sufferings which he endured are marvelous to think of. Yet he never complained nor flinched for a moment. Calm and resigned, he bore his torments with the fortitude of a martyr.

     After administering to his immediate wants, one of the mail party was left with him, and remained until my arrival on the seventeenth, at which time his condition was as follows; he was weak and pallid from loss of blood, [lack of] sleep and constant mental and physical suffering; his disposition was cheerful, and he evinced much pleasure at the prospect of having his wounds attended to, A deep, incised wound, about eight inches in length, extending from the point of the acromion process, passing inwards, downwards, and backwards, laid open the shoulder-joint, passed through the external portion of the head of the humerous, and thence downward, splintering the bone through about four inches of its course. The wound in the thigh proved to be only a severe lesion of the soft parts, about eight inches long and three deep.

     After a careful examination, I saw it would be impossible to make any effort to save the arm; I therefore determined to remove it at once. The patient was informed of the necessity for the operation, and his permission was accorded almost cheerfully. The only assistance that I could command was from three of the men forming my escort. Having made a kind of bed of some bags of corn, the patient was placed on it. One of the men having been instructed how to compress the axillary artery, and the other assistants properly disposed of, I removed the limb as follows: the patient lying on his back, with the shoulder elevated, I placed myself on the outside, and grasping the arm, I passed the catling through the original wound, thence inwards behind the fractured point of the humerus, and downwards, forming a large flap from the anterior and inner aspect of the arm, which made up for the deficiency caused by the character of the wound, which left the superior-posterior aspect of the joint entirely devoid of muscular tissue. With the aid of a scalpel, the remaining portion of the head and neck of the humerus was removed from the glenoid cavity, the granulated surface of the old wound revivified, and the arteries tied as quickly as possible, after which the edges of the wound were brought together and retained by interrupted sutures and some bands of adhesive plaster. Cold-water dressing was applied, with a light bandage suitable to the part.

     The wound in the lower limb was dressed by inverting the large fleshy flap, and retaining it in its normal position by several interrupted sutures. Coldwater dressing and the maintenance of the thigh in a semi-flexed position were the only requisites here. Forty drops of tincture of opium were administered, and the patient placed in as comfortable a bed as the meagre circumstances of the place would permit. Chloroform was not at hand to be given, and the only stimulus obtainable was a few drachms of essence of ginger. The celerity with which the operation was performed, and the fortitude and excellent disposition of the patient, saved him from everything like protracted suffering. In the evening, the tincture of opium was repeated, and proper directions having been given for the dressing of his wounds, I left him, having previously sent for some wine, brandy, and other nourishment. Of the former, 8 ounces, and the latter, 6 ounces, were allowed him daily.

     During the night of the twenty-third he arrived at the fort, having travelled in a common wagon sixty miles over a rough road during the two preceding days; and, as he was weak and fatigued, half a grain of sulphate of morphia was given him, and he was placed in a comfortable bed. Next morning I examined his wounds, and found that the lesion at the shoulder had united by first intention, save at a point where the ligatures protruded. The wound in the thigh had partly opened. Proper dressings were applied, generous diet given, and the patient continued to convalesce without an untoward symptom. Most of the ligatures came away between the ninth and twelfth days, and on the fifteenth the last, that from the axillary artery. Occasionally he suffered from frightful dreams, and imaginary pain in the lost arm. Whilst recovering, he had two attacks of quotidian intermittent fever, which readily yielded to quinine. On the twenty-fourth day after the operation he was walking about, and in less than six weeks he started for the Eastern States, restored to perfect health.

     On February 13 and 14, 1861, Irwin commanded detachments from Companies C and H, Seventh infantry, in engagement with the Chiricahua Indians near Apache Pass, Ariz., and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for "Distinguished gallantry in action." He was promoted to captain and assistant surgeon on August 28, 1861, and was advanced to major and surgeon on September 16, 1862. During the Civil War he served as medical inspector of the Army of the Ohio and the Army of the Cumberland and was medical director of the Army of the Southwest. In addition, he was superintendent of the Army General Hospital at Memphis, Tenn. After his extended tour in Kansas, Surgeon Irwin was chief medical officer of the U. S. Military Academy from 1873 to 1878 and medical director of the Department of Arizona from 1882 to 1886. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel and assistant medical purveyor on September 16, 1885, and to colonel on August 28, 1890. He was vice-president of the founding group of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States in 1891. In 1894 he was a delegate to represent the Medical Department, U. S. army, at the 11th International Medical Congress, Rome, Italy, March-April, 1894. On June 28, 1894, he was retired and advanced to the rank of brigadier general. He died December 15, 1917. The new 250-bed permanent army hospital at Fort Riley is to be dedicated in honor of this "Fighting Doctor."

     Hospital Steward Louis O. Faringhy began a long tour at Fort Riley that extended from 1866 to 1873. His son, George Faringhy, is quoted in Pride's book on hospital episodes:

     Quinine was given for colds and was always prescribed. A shot of good whiskey was always given to follow the dose, as capsules were unknown. Whiskey was cheap. You could buy it in the Commissary and an enlisted man could get it if he had the wherewithal. But he could easily get a cold and the steward would give him a dose of quinine and a good chaser for nothing, so who would want to suffer? J[unction] C[ityl was a tough burg and Abilene worse, with horsethieves were all over the land. [Mr. Faringhy] once took up a man in J[unction] C[ity] who had received a bullet in his hip. He extracted the bullet, kept the man in the hospital until he was entirely recovered, then one night this man repaid the kindness . . . by stealing his mare and colt and also two black horses from Chaplain Reynolds.

     George Faringhy is also authority for the fact that the ground just north of the hospital (Administration building 30) was the burial ground for arms and legs amputated in surgery. "The limb was simply wrapped in a towel or sheet, a spade made a hole and without ceremony the interment was made."

     In addition to Hospital Steward Faringhy, the hospital staff included Ellen Faringhy as matron. This pattern of husband and wife was often repeated at frontier hospitals as a means of maintaining a higher caliber of medical attendants. In 1866 the hospital steward was paid $33 a month, while the matron drew $14 each pay day.

     During the summer of 1867 cholera again broke out in Kansas and visited many of the frontier posts. George Faringhy states:

     This epidemic caused a stampede and everyone left the buildings and went into tents beyond the limits of the Post. My father [Hospital Steward Louis O. Faringhy] took care of the soldiers who were brought to the hospital. There were many cases out of which 79 died and are buried in rows near the north Wall of the cemetery. A detail of prisoners under a sentry dug the graves. In those days prisoners wore shackles and some carried a ball and chain. Father put the dead in their coffins, which were made at the Quartermaster's carpenter shop, mostly of black walnut, and drove the mules, hooked to an ambulance, to the cemetery where prisoners lowered the coffin and covered it up. Chaplain Reynolds, who came to Fort Riley in 1865, . . . conducted the services.

     The news of the epidemic caused General Custer to desert his command at Fort Wallace and hurry to his wife who was still in quarters at Fort Riley.

     Another medical officer at the hospital in 1866 was Brev. Maj. and Asst. Surg. William Henry Forwood, who signed the report of sick and wounded for the Seventh cavalry in November, 1866, and reported 12 cases of cholera during, the past sixty days. W. H. Forwood was a brilliant surgeon and was the third surgeon general of the army that served at Fort Riley. He was born at Brandywine Hundred, Del., on September 5, 1838. He was educated at Crozier Academy, Chester, Pa., and received his M. D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1861. Forwood was appointed an assistant surgeon on August 5, 1861. He was severely wounded in battle in October, 1863, and removed from field duty.

     During 1864 and 1865 Forwood commanded Whitehall General Hospital of two thousand beds. He was breveted captain and major on March 13, 1865, for faithful and meritorious services during the Civil War. He then had several years of frontier duty and was the surgeon and naturalist for Sheridan's exploring expeditions from 1880 to 1882. He became lieutenant colonel and deputy surgeon general on June 15, 1891, and colonel and assistant surgeon general on May 3, 1897. Meanwhile, he had served on various army boards and in teaching positions. Forwood built Montauk Hospital in 1898. He was the second president of the army medical school from 1901 to 1902. He was promoted to brigadier general and the position of surgeon general on June 8, 1902. He retired September 7, 1902, and became professor of surgical pathology at Georgetown Medical College. He died May 11, 1915.

     The medical staff in 1866 included Acting Asst. Surg. B. E. Dodson in addition to Brev. Lt. Col. and Surg. B. J. D. Irwin and Brev. Maj. and Asst. Surg. W. H. Forwood. In spite of the fact that physicians had been awarded military rank since 1847, they retained their older method of medical rating as well, and were usually addressed by their professional title. The medical rating was given only after examination and demonstrated efficiency and included: assistant surgeon (first lieutenant and captain) surgeon (major and lieutenant colonel), and then more specific titles such as assistant surgeon general, medical inspector or medical purveyor (colonel and brigadier general). The military rank did not always correspond with the medical rating; as demonstrated by Major, but Assistant Surgeon, Forwood and Lieutenant Dodson who was only "acting" as an assistant surgeon. Of course, the military title determined the pay grade and a brevet military rank was more desirable than an acting medical rating. Other titles, such as post surgeon and surgeon general, were due to the military position held by the physician and still survive in present day army vocabulary.



Surg. Bernard J. D. Irwin
Bernard J. D. Irwin
(1830-1917)
The first recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor,
for whom the New Hospital at Fort Riley has been named.

Photo courtesy the
National Archives and the Armed Forces Medical Library.



 

     Brev. Maj. and Asst. Surg. George Miller Sternberg, a brilliant bacteriologist, epidemiologist, and surgeon general of the army, was post surgeon at Fort Riley from August, 1867, until October, 1870. Doctor Sternberg was born on June 8, 1838, at Hartwick Seminary, Otsego county, N. Y., the son of a Lutheran clergyman. He was educated at Hartwick Seminary, Buffalo University and the College of Physicians and Surgeons (Columbia University) where he received his M. D. in 1860. With the outbreak of the Civil War, he was appointed assistant surgeon. Joining his command, he was captured at the battle of Bull Run, but escaped to participate in the battles of Gaines's Mill, Malvern Hill, and Harrison's Landing. He contracted typhoid fever at Harrison's Landing and the remainder of his war-time duty was spent in military hospitals at Portsmouth Grove, R. I., and Cleveland, Ohio. He received brevet commissions of captain and major during the war and commanded the hospital in Cleveland at the end of hostilities.

     Just before his appointment as post surgeon at Fort Riley, Sternberg's first wife, Louisa Russell, died from cholera at Fort Harker (Ellsworth). On August 28, 1869, a Junction City newspaper account suggested that the bachelor would begin married life again:

     Surgeon George M. Sternberg and Assistant Surgeon Leonard Y. Loring have charge of the Sanitary Department and no better commendation can be extended these gentlemen than the simple statement that they have nothing to do. By the way, we are informed that Doctor Sternberg is shortly to receive a leave of 30 days for the purpose of taking a trip east. We hope soon to see him back at Riley in possession of the prize he so richly deserves.

     The result was marriage to Martha L. Pattison, who wrote a delightful biography of Sternberg that included a masterful description of frontier life in Kansas. The varied and unhurried life of an army physician as described by Martha Sternberg is beyond the experience of the modern, scientific, efficient, and overworked military surgeon.

     Doctor Sternberg indulged himself in developing inventions while at Fort Riley. Impressed with the desirability of maintaining an even temperature in hospital wards, he patented an automatic heat regulator based on a thermometer that made and broke an electric circuit. The regulator won a prize at the American Institute and had wide use. He also perfected an anemometer and a fruit drier while serving as post surgeon. In April, 1870, Doctor Sternberg prepared a report on the climate at Fort Riley, which was published in the local paper. However, all was not luxury, since in 1868 and 1869, Surgeon Sternberg took part in several expeditions against hostile Cheyennes along the upper Arkansas river in Indian territory and western Kansas.

     After leaving Fort Riley and during service at Fort Barrancas, Fla., Sternberg was stricken with yellow fever. Later he published two medical articles that gave him a definite status as an authority on yellow fever. In 1879 he was ordered to Washington and detailed for duty with the Havana Yellow Fever Commission. In 1881 simultaneously with Louis Pasteur, he announced his discovery of the pneumococcus. In the United States he was the first to demonstrate the plasmodium of malaria (1885), and the bacilli of tuberculosis and typhoid fever (1886). His interest in bacteriology naturally led to an interest in disinfection, and with Sternberg and Koch scientific disinfection had its beginning. His essay: "Disinfection and Individual Prophylaxis Against Infectious Diseases" (1886), received the Lomb prize and was translated into several foreign languages. Major Sternberg was breveted a lieutenant colonel on February 27, 1890, for gallant service in performance of professional duty under fire in action against Indians at Clearwater, Idaho, on July 12, 1877. On May 30, 1893, he was made surgeon general of the army with the rank of brigadier general. He was surgeon general nine years and during that time the army nurse corps and the army dental corps were organized.

     The army medical school was founded in 1893 by Sternberg for indoctrinating newly appointed medical officers in military medical practice. He created the Tuberculosis Hospital at Fort Bayard, N. Mex. Sternberg supervised the expansion of the army and the establishment of several general hospitals during the Spanish-American war. His own early difficulties in acquiring knowledge led to a liberal-minded policy in the establishment of laboratories in the larger military hospitals where medical officers could engage in scientific research. In 1898 he established the Typhoid Fever Board and in 1900, the Yellow Fever Commission headed by Maj. and Surg. Walter Reed. Doctor Sternberg published several books including: Malaria and Malarial Diseases (1889), Manual of Bacteriology (1892), Immunity and Serum Therapy (1895), and Infection and Immunity (1904). He died in Washington on November 3, 1915.



Part of the medical detachment at the hospital about 1870
Part of the medical detachment at the Fort Riley Hospital about 1870.



     From October, 1870, until August, 1871, Capt. and Asst. Surg. Leonard Young Loring served at Fort Riley as post surgeon. Loring was born in St. Louis, Mo., on February 1, 1844. He was appointed first lieutenant and assistant surgeon on May 14, 1867, and promoted to captain and assistant surgeon on May 14, 1870. His first assignment was Downer's Station (in present Trego county), where he was post surgeon from June, 1867, until June, 1868. He became assistant to Sternberg until 1870 and then served as post surgeon. After duty at Fort Riley, Loring was in the field in western Kansas with the Sixth cavalry until February, 1872. He returned to serve at Fort Hays, Camp Supply, Indian territory, and Fort Dodge, from 1878 until 1882. Doctor Loring was promoted to major and surgeon October 9, 1888, and was retired in 1908.

     From August, 1871, until October, 1873, Brev. Col. and Surg. Bernard J. D. Irwin returned as Post Surgeon. He was assisted by First Lt. and Acting Asst. Surg. W. O. Taylor, who came to Fort Riley when the Third infantry replaced the Sixth cavalry in 1873.

     In 1872 the hospital was remodeled to some extent by making a single dormitory, or hospital ward, of the main part of the building. The dining room and kitchen were in the south wing. Water for the hospital was obtained from a cistern which was just east of the center of the main building, in the center of the rectangle between the two wings. This cistern and pump remained there until the drive was paved after the turn of the century. The hospital staff included Hospital Steward Louis O. Faringhy and hospital matrons Ellen Faringhy and Kathryn Burns. There were two enlisted men who were rated as nurses and one enlisted cook.

     From October, 1873, until April, 1877, Brev. Maj. and Asst. Surg. William Elkanah Waters was post surgeon. He was assisted by Acting Asst. Surgs. M. M. Shearer, L. Hall, A. L. Fitch, and W. S. Tremaine. Surg. B. J. D. Irwin had left for duty at West Point and had taken Hospital Steward L. O. Faringhy with him. Hospital Steward John M. McKenzie came to Fort Riley from West Point and Clara McKenzie became hospital matron. In December, 1877, the muster and pay roll of the medical department had a new and first entry of "Hospital Steward per Warrant" when Thomas Hills reported for duty. Surgeon Waters retired in November, 1897.

     In April, 1877, Lt. Col. and Surg. Charles Carroll Gray became post surgeon as the 19th infantry was relieved at Fort Riley by the 23d infantry. Doctor Gray was born in New York and retired in January, 1879, at the completion of his tour of duty at Fort Riley. Asst. Surg. H. S. Kilbourne was also at the hospital and signed the report of sick and wounded in June, 1878.

     From February, 1879, until March, 1883, Maj. and Surg. Henry Remsen Tilton was post surgeon. Doctor Tilton had just returned from frontier duty and had demonstrated fearless gallantry in action against Indians at Bear Paw Mountain on September 30, 1877. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on March 22, 1895, for this action. Tilton was born in New Jersey and was appointed as assistant surgeon on August 26, 1861, and promoted to major and surgeon in June, 1876. After his tour of duty at Fort Riley, he went to Detroit and was promoted to lieutenant colonel and deputy surgeon general in August, 1893.

     Hospital Steward Louis O. Faringhy transferred from West Point to Fort Riley on April 23, 1879, to replace Hospital Steward Joseph Meredith. Faringhy was discharged from the army on September 8, 1881. In 1883 Charles Hoffmeier was the hospital steward, with his wife, Mary Hoffmeier, serving as hospital matron.

     Fort Riley was linked by telephone with the outside world for the first time in the spring of 1883.

     From March, 1883, until June, 1885, Maj. and Surg. Albert Hartsuff was the post surgeon. Doctor Hartsuff was born in New York on February 4, 1837, and received his M. D. from the Castleton Medical College of Vermont. He was appointed an assistant surgeon on August 5, 1861, and was breveted captain and major for services during the war and for services during the cholera epidemic in New Orleans in 1866. Hartsuff became a lieutenant colonel and deputy surgeon general on December 4, 1892, and was promoted to colonel and assistant surgeon general on April 28, 1900. He retired in 1901, but was advanced to the rank of brigadier general on April 23, 1904. He died in 1908.

     First Lt. and Asst. Surg. C. C. Goddard was assistant to Surgeon Hartsuff. In addition, First Lt. and Asst. Surg. A. C. Van Doryn was assigned to Fort Riley in June, 1884.

     An effort was made by Congress in 1884 to sell the reservation of Fort Riley, since the post was garrisoned by very few troops and the frontier had moved on. However, Gen. Philip H. Sheridan stated in his annual report that it was his intention to enlarge the post and make it the headquarters of the cavalry.

     From June, 1885, until March, 1887, Maj. and Surg. Samuel Miller Horton was hospital commander and post surgeon. Doctor Horton was born in Pennsylvania and was appointed an assistant surgeon on August 26, 1861. He received a brevet major rank in 1865 and was promoted to lieutenant colonel and deputy surgeon general in December, 1893. He retired in June, 1894.

     In addition to First Lt. and Asst. Surg. C. C. Goddard, the medical staff included First Lt. and Asst. Surg. R. R. Ball, who was assigned in 1886.

     Through the efforts of General Sheridan and others, congress passed a law in 1887 providing the sum of $200,000 for construction at Fort Riley, to provide facilities for a school of instruction for cavalry and light artillery. The school was established by Gen. Order No. 9, Headquarters of the Army, February 9, 1887.

VI. The Second Permanent Hospital

     In March, 1887, a board of officers headed by Lt. Col. and Surg. A. A. Woodhull was appointed to investigate and report upon the sanitary conditions of the post, upon the water supply and sewerage, and to make such recommendations as might be deemed necessary for a considerable increase of the garrison.

     Surgeon Woodhull had been detailed for the board from his position of instructor in military hygiene at the infantry and cavalry school at Fort Leavenworth. He was born at Princeton, N. J., on April 13, 1837, the son of a physician, and prepared at Lawrenceville School for the College of New Jersey, where he received the degree of A. B. in 1856 and that of M. A. in 1859. In 1859 he was also graduated from the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania. During the two years following his graduation, he practiced medicine, first in Leavenworth, and later at Eudora. With the outbreak of the Civil War, he was active in recruiting a troop of mounted rifles for the Kansas militia, in which he was commissioned a lieutenant. Before the unit was mustered into the federal service, Woodhull received an appointment to the medical corps of the regular army, on September 19, 1861. At the close of the war, he was breveted a lieutenant colonel. He had duty tours in the Army Medical Museum, the office of the surgeon general, command of the Army and Navy Hospital at Hot Springs, Ark., and in 1899 he was chief surgeon of the Department of the Pacific at Manila. He was retired in 1901 but in 1904 was advanced to the grade of brigadier general on the retired list. After his retirement he was a lecturer at Princeton University. He died October 18, 1921.



Second permanent hospital 1889
Second permanent hospital, 1889.
Now part of post headquarters.



     From March, 1887, until July, 1889, Maj. and Surg. Dallas Bache was the post surgeon. Doctor Bache was born in Pennsylvania and was appointed an assistant surgeon on May 28, 1861. He was breveted captain and major in 1865, rated surgeon in 1867, promoted to lieutenant colonel and surgeon in 1890, and became colonel and assistant surgeon general in 1895. He died in 1902.

     Early in February, 1888, a board of officers consisting of Col. James W. Forsyth, Maj. and Surg. Dallas Bache, two cavalry officers and one quartermaster officer met to determine a site for a new hospital. The location selected was north of the main post, on a level shelf with rimrock behind and the Kaw valley spread in front. In April, 1888, the contract was let after Gen. Philip Sheridan recommended an appropriation of $300,000. The north wing of the hospital was completed in 1888. The building was built of native limestone, as were the rest of the post buildings.



Main post dispensary 1889, left side and hospital ambulance 1900, right side



     The new hospital was far from the center of the post, so a dispensary was built north of the old hospital in 1889 and continued to function as a medical building until 1924, when it was occupied as officers' quarters. In 1890 a dead house was built behind the new hospital. A laundry for the hospital was constructed beside the dead house in 1891, and quarters for the hospital steward were built on the west side of the new hospital in 1891.

     The old hospital had been in use since 1855. The structure was extensively modified and a clock tower added in 1890, whereupon the building became the cavalry administration building and post headquarters.

     Serving on the same board with the post commander was fruitful for Surgeon Bache, for in 1891 he was married to Bessie Forsyth, daughter of Col. James W. Forsyth.

     First Lt. and Asst. Surg. R. R. Ball and Capt. and Asst. Surg. Richardo Barnett completed the medical staff of the hospital. Barnett left for duty at Fort Lewis, Colorado, in August, 1888.

     From July, 1889, until October, 1892, John Van Rennselaer Hoff was post surgeon. Hoff was born at Mt. Morris, N. Y., on April 11, 1848, the son of Col. Alexander H. Hoff. He received his A. B. degree in 1871 and the M. A. degree in 1874 from Union University, and his M. D. from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1874. From 1874 until 1879 he served at posts on the Western frontier in Nebraska and Wyoming. In 1882 he was post surgeon at Alcatraz Island, and then relieved Surg. George M. Sternberg at Fort Mason in 1884. In 1886 Hoff took a year's leave abroad and studied at the University of Vienna. On return to the United States, he organized the first detachment of the newly-authorized hospital corps at Fort Reno, Indian territory, and then became post surgeon at Fort Riley. He organized the first company of instruction for the hospital corps and wrote the first drill regulations for those units while at Fort Riley.

     In November, 1890, Hoff took the field with eight troops of the Seventh cavalry and participated in the last battle of the Indian wars. His gallantry was noted in Gen. Order No. 100: "Major John Van R. Hoff, Surgeon, U. S. Army, for conspicuous bravery and coolness under fire in caring for the wounded in action against hostile Sioux Indians, at Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota." As evidence that service on the frontier at that time was not a sinecure, it should be noted that immediately on his return to Fort Riley from this battle he was ordered to proceed to Florence, Kan., to care for troopers of the Seventh cavalry who had been injured in a railroad accident at that point. On June 15, 1891, Hoff was promoted to major and surgeon. In 1892 the cavalry and light artillery school was officially established by War Department Gen. Order No. 17, although academic work did not begin until 1893. In that year Hoff was transferred, and subsequent tours included the position of chief surgeon in Third Army Corps, Department of Puerto Rico, U. S. Forces in China, Department of The Lakes, Department of the Missouri, Department of the Philippines, and Department of the East. In addition, Hoff found opportunity to be an instructor in ophthalmology at the University of California, a professor at the Army Medical School, Instructor at the General Staff College, and professor of military sanitation at the University of Nebraska.

     Hoff was an observer in the Russo-Japanese war. For several years he was editor of The Military Surgeon and was the third president of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States. He was commissioned a lieutenant colonel of volunteers in May, 1898, and promoted to colonel and assistant surgeon general in 1905. He retired April 11, 1912, but was assigned to active duty in the office of the surgeon general in 1916. Hoff was a recognized pioneer in the military science of army field medicine. While at Fort Riley, Hoffs medical and teaching staff included First Lts. and Asst. Surgs. Benjamin Brooke, Joseph Taylor Clarke, Henry C. Fisher, James Denver Glennan, Merritte Weber Ireland, Frank Royer Keefer, and Francis Anderson Winter. Doctor Hoff died in 1920.

     Merritte W. Ireland was born in Columbia City, Ind., May 31, 1867, the son of a country doctor. He graduated from the Detroit College of Medicine in 1890 and entered the army in 1891. After his tour of duty at Fort Riley, other early assignments included tours in Cuba and the Philippines during the Spanish-American war. In 1911 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and was in command of the hospital at Fort Sam Houston when Gen. Frederick Funston suffered his fatal heart attack in San Antonio. General Pershing requested Ireland as a member of his staff and he was promoted to colonel on the eve of his departure for France. He was promoted to major general in August, 1918, and served as surgeon general of the army until May, 1931. Doctor Ireland was a strong supporter of the ancillary corps within the Medical Department, and recommended the establishment of the Medical Service Corps 27 years before it was accomplished. He died in 1952. The recently completed 500-bed army hospital at Fort Knox, Ky., is named in his honor.

     There is a historical footnote in the fact that when John Van R. Hoff was given a free chance to develop the hospital corps while at Fort Riley, his superior medical officer and the chief surgeon of the Department of the Misouri was the old, Seventh cavalry surgeon, Bernard John Dowling Irwin. Some three decades later, Army Surgeon General Ireland's top staff included Brig. Gens. James D. Glennan, Henry C. Fisher, and Francis A. Winter. It might have been a coincidence that this group of general medical officers served together at Fort Riley, and the influence of Col. John Van R. Hoff may not be evident in their careers; but why was the retired Doctor Hoff called to active duty in the office of the surgeon general while this group headed the army medical corps?

     From October, 1892, until December, 1896, Henry Stuart Turrill was the post surgeon. While at Riley Doctor Turrill was promoted to major in 1893 and then became a lieutenant colonel and chief surgeon in 1898. He became interested in medical supply, and the Reports of the Surgeon General for 1904 and 1905 list him as the commander of the New York Medical Supply Depot, the precursor of the Armed Services Medical Procurement Agency.

     On January 9, 1893, the cavalry and light artillery school was formally opened with a lecture on hippology by Dr. Daniel LeMay, veterinary surgeon, Seventh cavalry. The school commandant was Col. James W. Forsyth, the school surgeon was Maj. Henry S. Turrill, assisted by First Lts. and Asst. Surgs. Madison M. Brewer, James M. Kennedy, and Paul F. Straub.

     Six years later, on December 21, 1899, Paul F. Straub was surgeon on Alos, Zambales, Luzon, Philippine Islands. On that date his bravery resulted in the last Congressional Medal of Honor that has been awarded to an army physician. "Surgeon Straub voluntarily exposed himself to a hot fire from the enemy in repelling with pistol fire an insurgent attack and at great risk of his own life went under fire to the rescue of a wounded officer and carried him to a place of safety."

     By 1896 the company of instruction of the hospital corps was graduating two classes of enlisted men each year. School instructors and Assistant Surgeons Brewer, Kennedy, and Straub had been replaced by Capt. and Asst. Surg. Jefferson Poindexter and First Lts. and Asst. Surgs. William W. Quinton and Thomas U. Raymond.

VII. The Spanish Wars

     From December, 1896, through 1898, the post surgeon was Capt. and Asst. Surg. Junius L. Powell. Captain Powell was promoted to major in 1897. The hospital steward was Oscar F. Temple while Sarah Steward was the hospital matron.

     Capt. and Asst. Surg. Ashton Bryant Heyl arrived in 1896. In 1897 the canteen had become the post exchange and was located in Waters Hall. Capt. A. B. Heyl of the medical department was the first officer in charge. Doctor Heyl left Fort Riley in April, 1898, and was assigned to the First cavalry at Tampa, Fla. He participated in the Cuban battles, then resigned from the army in February, 1900.

     Following Surgeon Heyl, a series of medical officers came to Fort Riley for a few months, only to leave for Cuba. The hospital corps school of instruction was an activity only on paper, since the medical faculty were on detached service at Mobile, Tampa, or Cuba. Acting Asst. Surg. Jose M. Delgado joined the First cavalry and Henry A. Webber left for Fort Tampa, Fla. Capt. and Asst. Surg. Benjamin L. Ten Eyck departed for Fort Tampa, Fla. Even Maj. and Surg. J. L. Powell, the post surgeon, left Fort Riley in June, 1898, for detached service at Mobile, Ala. W. F. Pride stated in his history that in April, 1898, all the officers had left the post except Chaplain Barry, who was in command, and a contract surgeon named Powell. In August, 1898, Acting Asst. Surgs. R. M. Geddings, Charles D. Camp, and F. A. E. Disney were at Fort Riley, but all were in Cuba by October.



Medical detachment in 1900
The Fort Riley Medical detachment in 1900.



     The hospital returned to normal when from September, 1899, until September, 1901, Capt. and Asst. Surg. Charles Edward Woodruff was post surgeon. Woodruff was born in Philadelphia on October 2, 1860. He was graduated from the U. S. Naval Academy in 1883 and received his M. D. from Jefferson Medical College in 1886. He was an assistant surgeon in the navy from 1886 to 1887, then became an army surgeon. He was promoted to major when he finished his tour of duty at Fort Riley, and became chief surgeon of the Philippine Department. He was the author of the book: The Effects of Tropical Light on White Men. He retired in 1913 and died in 1915.

     In September, 1901, Maj. and Surg. Paul Shillock became post surgeon. The hospital staff consisted of Assistant Surgeons Poey and Winn, Hospital Steward August Nickel, and Caroline Neilson as matron.

     In 1902 the uniform of the hospital corps was changed. The emerald green color prescribed for stripes and chevrons was changed to maroon and white. The caduceus was substituted for the maltese cross for cap and collar ornaments.

     Also in 1902, the first maneuvers of any magnitude in the United States were held from September 20 to October 8, at Fort Riley. The troops were encamped on the site now occupied by the present cantonment hospital. The area was named Camp Root for Elihu Root, Secretary of War. The chief surgeon of the maneuver division was Lt. Col. and Dep. Surg. Gen. John Van R. Hoff. General Order No. 11 from Camp Root also list Maj. and Surg. Henry P. Birmingham, Lt. and Asst. Surg. P. C. Field, and Contract Surg. Joseph Pinquard. The equipment for a field hospital and ambulance company was evaluated in great detail in 1902, and the third field hospital and ambulance company No. 3 were the first modern units so organized and utilized.

     In 1903 Hoff again served as chief surgeon for similar maneuvers at Camp Sanger at Fort Riley. He discussed supply, packing units, and transportation problems in detail in his paper quoted in the Annual Report of the Surgeon General in 1903. Doctor Hoff was very critical of the existing policy of allowing the quartermaster department to maintain transportation items such as ambulances and mules. Army physicians mentioned in Hoff's report include: H. L. Gilchrist, E. F. Gardner, E. B. Frick, F. P. Reynolds, and F. A. Winter.

     A medical board was called at Fort Riley in the fall of 1903 because of an outbreak of typhoid fever. The members were Lt. Cols. J. V. R. Hoff and E. F. Gardner, with Majs. E. B. Frick and Paul Shillock, the post surgeon. The findings were that typhoid fever had been endemic in the Kaw valley since the June floods and did not originate in the maneuver camp.

     The year 1903 marked the end of the first 50 years of medical service at Fort Riley. Three post hospitals had been occupied and the reservation had been utilized for the first maneuver trial of a modern field hospital and ambulance company. The first company of instruction for the hospital corps had been organized and developed into an example for future army medical schools. But the surgeons who served in the days of individual medicine provide the most history-full accounts. Of the 22 post surgeons, seven became general officers and three became army surgeon general. In addition, two other medical officers who served at Fort Riley also became surgeon general. Among these five surgeons general was the first medical officer to receive the rank of brigadier general and the first to obtain the present rank of major general.

     Three physicians were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, including the first one won in the entire army and the last one that has been awarded to an army physician. Six general hospitals in World War II were named in honor of doctors who had served at Fort Riley. A graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy was a post surgeon and one doctor deserted his hospital post during a cholera epidemic with resulting courts-martial and dismissal from the service. The first president of the association of military surgeons of the United States was a Fort Riley post surgeon, who also became president of the American Medical Association. Two surgeons resigned to join the Confederacy. Only one doctor died during his tour of duty at Fort Riley. But most important, in that varied group was a sprinkling of men with vision -- who developed efficient techniques for field medicine and maintained superlative curiosity for scientific investigation in the midst of mediocre stimulation fostered by isolation, routine, and military apathy.

(Part Two, the Final Installment of This Hospital History,
"From Horses to Helicopters -- Fort Riley, 1904-1957,"
Will Appear in the Spring, 1958, Issue.)

Bibliography

Maj. George E. Omer, Jr., MC, is chief of surgery, U. S. Army Hospital, Fort Riley.

 

I. The Temporary Hospital

The Military Surgeon, v. 43 (1918), p. 247.

Margaret Whittemore, Historic Kansas (Lawrence, University of Kansas Press, 1954), pp. 51, 56, 155.

W. F. Pride, History of Fort Riley (Topeka, Capper Publications, 1926), pp. 45, 50, 100, 108.

Highway marker, Kansas State Historical Society, Fort Riley Reservation.

J. K. Herr, The Story of the U. S. Cavalry, (1775-1942) (Boston, Little, Brown, and Company, 1953), p. 116.

R. E. Schmilski, "Fort Riley, 1852 to 1855" (A term paper, Kansas State College, Manhattan).

Fort Riley, Its Historic Past, 1853-1953 (The Army General School), p. 12.

The Muster and Pay Roll of the Medical Department, Including Stewards, Wardmasters, Cooks, Nurses, and Matrons (printed by C. Alexander), in archives division of the Kansas State Historical Society.

"The National Library of Medicine," U. S. Armed Forces Medical Journal, Washington, v. 7, No. 11 (November, 1956), p. 1692.

C. C. Howes, This Place Called Kansas (Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 1952), p. 189.

Margaret Leech, Reveille in Washington, 1860-1865 (New York, Harper and Brothers, 1941), pp. 431, 442.

M. W. Ireland, "The Medical Corps of the Army and Scientific Medicine," U. S. Armed Forces Medical Journal, v. 5, No. 12 (December, 1954), pp. 1785-1801.

II. Cholera Epidemic

Percival G. Lowe, Five Years a Dragoon, 1849-1854 (Kansas City, Mo., Franklin Hudson Publishing Co., 1906), pp. 192, 212.

Pride, op. cit., pp. 66, 74, 75, 77, 78, 81, 83, 93, 103.

Fort Riley, Its Historic Past . . ., p. 13.

Schmilski, op. cit.

III. The First Permanent Hospital

F, B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1903).

The Muster and Pay Roll of the Medical Department . . ., loc. cit.

Asst. Surg. R. H. Coolidge, Reports on the Sickness and Mortality Among the Troops in the Middle Division, June, 1857 (Army Medical Bulletin, Washington, v. unknown, pp. 96-98).

J. I. Lambert, One Hundred Years With the Second Cavalry (Topeka, Capper Printing Co., 1939), p. 45.

J. P. Cooney, "Some Notes on the Historical Development of the Medical Service Corps," U. S. Armed Forces Medical Journal, v. 8, No. 2 (February, 1957), pp. 254-263.

Ireland, op. cit.

The Army Almanac (Washington, U. S. Government Printing Office, 1950), p. 94.

C. E. Corey, "Slavery in Kansas," Kansas Historical Collections, Topeka, v. 7 (1901-1902), p. 241.

Pride, op. cit., pp. 89, 169.

Schmilski, op. cit.

W. A. Ganoe, The History of the United States Army (New York, D. Appleton and Co., 1924), p. 496.

"Army Surgeon Generals," The Army Medical Bulletin, Washington, v. unknown, pp. 42-46.

Leech, op. cit., p. 442.

IV. The Civil War

The Junction City Republic, June 25, 1953 (centennial edition).

The Junction City Daily Union, June 24, 1953 (centennial edition).

The Muster and Pay Roll of the Medical Department . . ., loc. cit.

"Report of Sick and Wounded," February, 1864, Fred P. Drew.

Clifford Merrill Drury, "Marcus Whitman, M. D., Pioneer and Martyr," selections from personal correspondence from Walt Disney Productions, January 30, 1957.

"Report of Sick and Wounded," September, November, 1864, Jeremiah Sabin.

Ibid., January, 1866, W. C. Finlaw.

V. The Indian-Fighting Medics

Lambert, op. cit., p. 94, and chapter on Fort Riley.

Fort Riley, Its Historic Past, 1853-1953, p. 4.

Fairfax Downey, Indian-Fighting Army (New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1941, p. 70.

Edward M. Coffman, "Army Life on the Frontier, 1865-1898," Military Affairs, Washington, v. 20 (1956), pp. 193-202.

Herr, op. cit., pp. 89, 161.

The Medal of Honor (Washington, U. S. Government Printing Office, 1948), pp, 206, 375.

Martha L. Sternberg, George Miller Sternberg, a Biography (Chicago, American Medical Association, 1920), pp. 16-19.

Obituary of George M. Sternberg, Washington (D. C.) Evening Star, November 3, 1915.

Heitman, op. cit., v. 1, pp. 543, 642, 921, 962.

Thomas H. S. Hamersly, Complete Army and Navy Register of the United States (New York, Thomas H. S. Hamersly, 1880), p. 639.

Who Was Who in America (Chicago, A. N. Marquis Co., 1943), v. 1 (1897-1942), p. 1179.

William H. Powell, Records of Living Officers of the United States Army (Philadelphia, L. R. Hamersly and Co., 1890).

"Report of Sick and Wounded," Army Medical Department: G. M. Sternberg, November, 1867; W. C. Finlaw, 1866; W. H. Forwood, 1866; W. E. Waters, 1876; L. Hall, 1876; A. L. Fitch, 1876.

Wheeler Preston, American Biographies (New York, Harper's, 1940), p. 968.

Dictionary of American Biography, v. 17, p. 492.

Pride, op. cit., pp. 134, 146, 153, 156, 157, 164, 167, 168, 171-174, 177, 180, 185.

The Muster and Pay Roll of the Medical Department . . ., loc. cit.

The Army Almanac, p. 90.

Ganoe, op. cit., p. 496.

Junction City Republic, June 25, 1953.

Maj. Mark M. Boatner, III, Military Customs and Traditions (New York, David McKay Company, Inc., 1956), pp. 94, 95.

George Worthington Adams, Doctors in Blue (New York, Henry Schuman, 1952), pp. 34, 37, 42, 76, 82, 85, 105, 150, 152, 180.

VI. The Second Permanent Hospital

James Robb Church, editorial, The Military Surgeon, Washington, v. 46 (1920), pp. 204-207.

The Muster and Pay Roll of the Medical Department . . ., loc. cit.

Cooney, loc. cit., pp. 254-263.

Who Was Who in America, v. 1, pp. 400, 574, 1367.

National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, v. A, p. 220.

The Medal of Honor, pp. 107, 111, 116, 127, 145, 157, 191, 184, 206, 220, 223, 235, 246.

Heitman, op. cit., v. 1, pp. 534, 587.

Report of the Surgeon General, 1904, p. 29

Ibid., 1905, p. 148

Pride, op. cit., pp. 194, 196, 203, 205, 210, 211, 217, 218, 220, 223.

Dictionary of American Biography, v. 20, p. 492.

VII. The Spanish Wars

The Muster and Pay Roll of the Medical Department . . ., loc. cit.

Pride, op. cit., p. 233.

Report of the Surgeon General, 1904, pp. 42-48, 77.

Ibid., 1902, p. 40.

Who Was Who in America, v. 1, p. 1377.

C. D. Rhodes, ed., The Santiago Campaign (Richmond, Va., Williams Printing Co., 1927), pp. 207-221; 226-245.

General Order 11, Headquarters Maneuver Division, October 4, 1902, Maj. Gen. John C. Bates, commanding.


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