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Report on medical care

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...The ambulance wagons, from the time of their arrival in the Crimea early in October until about the middle of November, appear to have been of much service, both in carrying the sick and wounded from the camp to Balaklava, and also in removing the wounded from the front to the rear at the battle of Inkermann. When the wet weather set in, however, and the roads, or rather tracks, between the camp and Balaklava, became wet and broken up, the wagons found less and less available, and the use of them was finally abandoned early in January. They are considered by Dr. Hall and many other officers as too heavy; and this opinion appears to us to be well founded.

Their number also, two to each division, was insufficient for the removal of the large number of sick brought down from the camp to Balaklava since the end of November.

Artillery wagons were called in aid for the same purpose, and artillery horses were harnessed as leaders to the ambulance wagons, when the state of the roads or of the ambulance horses rendered the latter unable to draw their load. The valuable assistance of the mules belonging to the French ambulance was also obtained, and as many as 500 of these animals, equipped each with a pair of seats, or a pair of litters hanging on either side of the pack-saddle, have been employed on a single day in carrying our sick from the heights before Sevastopol to Balaklava. Our own cavalry horses have been lately employed in bringing down such of the patients as could ride; but this means of transport is unsuitable for the sick, and is wholly unavailable, except for the least severe cases of illness or injury.

The ambulance corps does not appear to have answered the expectations which were originally entertained respecting it. "From their habits and age," says Dr. Hall, speaking of these men, "they are quite unfitted for their situation; they could not drive; there were no smiths, no farriers, or wheelwrights with them, so that the most trifling damage rendered the carriages useless." We found that this opinion was shared by many other persons.

The animals belonging to them have for the most part died; and at the present we think that the corps is of no service whatever.


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