Publisher Information: New York: 1865.
Hamilton, Frank Hastings (1813-86). Autograph Letter signed, dated Jan. 1, 65, signed by Hamilton in his capacity as the "Surg. in charge Officers of Vol. New York"; no addressee or recipient indicated. 1 sheet, 205 x 258 mm., folded to make 4 pages of which 2 contain Hamilton's letter and 2 are blank. Creased where folded, minor soiling. 64 Madison Ave., New York [N.Y.].
A very fine letter from the Medical Inspector of the Union Army, describing the condition of Brigadier General William H. Morris (1827-1900), who had suffered a gunshot wound in the leg during the past year.
"Brig. Genl. Wm. H. Morris U.S.A. has been under my care in consequence of a gunshot wound of the leg, during the last four or five months. One of the wounds has not yet healed, and the limb remains swollen & painful. I attribute this delay in his recovery to an injury of a nerve. The General is not at present in a condition to resume the saddle, but he might perhaps without harm perform a moderate mount of labor on foot. There is a gradual but slow improvement in the condition of his limb, which furnishes a guarantee of his complete recovery at a period not very remote."
Morris, a native of New York, began his service in the United States Army as a second lieutenant in the 2nd Infantry, but during the Civil War he advanced quickly to the rank of Brigadier-General, to which he was appointed on Nov. 29, 1862. He was present at a number of important battles, including Gettysburg and the Battle of the Wilderness, and was wounded at Spotsylvania Court House on May 9, 1864. It is undoubtedly this wound that forms the subject of Hamilton's letter, since Morris spent the next four months after the Spotsylvania Court House battle on sick leave in Washington, away from active fighting, before being mustered out of the army on August 24.
Although the purpose of Hamilton's letter is not explicitly stated, it was very probably written either in connection with Morris's discharge from the army, or to establish Morris's eligibility for an army pension. Intriguing in itself, the letter takes on added significance in that it refers to an officer rather than an enlisted man. According to Paul E. Steiner's Medical History of a Civil War Regiment (pp. 50-54), the government did not regulate and oversee officers' health care as it did the care of enlisted men, so that the diseases and disabilities suffered by Union officers often went unreported, and what records there were tended to be scattered and incomplete. Hamilton's letter may therefore be the most detailed description extant of the wound suffered by Morris during one of the bloodiest engagements of the Civil War.
Hamilton, one of the foremost American surgeons of his day, was appointed Medical Inspector of the Union Army by President Lincoln and the United States Senate in February 1863, and served in this post with distinction until June 1865. He was the author of the first complete book on fractures and dislocations in English (A Practical Treatise on Fractures and Dislocations, 1860; Garrison-Morton 4420) and numerous other surgical works, as well as editor of the massive Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion (1870-71). Kelly & Burrage. DAB re Morris & Hamilton.Book Id: 29220