of December 2, 1864, from the Bureau of Conscription, generals of reserves are directed (on the authority of the War Department) to organize for certain local service "all men found for light duty and not otherwise assigned and actually employed," which deprives the Medical Department of the opportunity to replace with conscripts found for light duty the detailed men relieved in the manner above stated, or to fill the requirements arising from time to time for hospital attendants. The hospitals cannot be properly conducted without a liberal allowance of white male attendants, and it is recommended that Circular No. 35, of 1864, from the Bureau of Conscription, be modified so as to permit either conscripts found for light duty, or reserves over forty-five years of age, to be assigned as hospital attendants.
Under the authority of law (embodied in General Orders No. 69, of 1863, and No. 25, of 1864), soldiers sick or wounded, and likely to remain unfit for military duty for sixty days, are furloughed. It is undoubtedly humane to furlough these men, but the practice is wholly inconsistent with preserving and maintaining an army. Many of the men are lost sight of, and never return. It is recommended that the law be repealed. Furloughs should only be authorized by orders to be granted as circumstances may demand.
Foreseeing the many and great difficulties to be encountered in procuring medical supplies from foreign countries through the blockade, attention was given at an early day to the establishment of medical laboratories, and the manufacture of medicines at Lincolnton, North Carolina, Charlotte, North Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, Macon and Atlanta, Georgia, and Mobile and Montgomery, Alabama. While these laboratories have been engaged more especially in the manufacture of medicines, heretofore universally procured from abroad, great attention has been given to the manufacture of indigenous remedies, which are now administered by medical officers, in lieu of medicines of foreign origin, with favorable results.
In the beginning of the war, the Department was compelled to depend entirely upon purchasing agents, and contracts awarded to individuals for a supply of hospital furniture, bedding, &c., and which contracts in a majority of cases were never filled. It was then determined to assume "direct control of the manufacture of these articles, and artisans were detailed from the ranks of the army, and, when practicable, disabled soldiers were employed.These employees of the laboratories, purveying depots and distilleries, are in a great measure expert chemists, druggists and distillers and men of professional skill, whose services are absolutely indispensable for the manufacture of medicines, hospital furniture and alcoholic stimulants. It is therefore hoped that the Honorable Secretary will see the necessity of these men being permanently attached to the Medical Department, as the practice of constantly changing these employees is productive of delay and embarrassment to the Department. It is also important that they should be