1863: Enoch Pearce to Daniel Henry Rucker

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A postwar photograph of Dr. Enoch Pearce

This letter was written by Surgeon Enoch Pearce of the 61st Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI). It is undated and was most likely a first draft that he prepared to send to the Quarter Master Department in Washington D. C. in an attempt to close out property accounts he was responsible for during the war.

A biographical sketch of Enoch Pearce was published in the Steubenville Daily Gazette on 14 January 1916 that reads:

Dr. Pearce was born November 18, 1832 at Westminster, near Baltimore, Md., and was the son of Enoch and Rachel McKenzie Pearce.  Both of his parents were Marylanders.  His father followed mechanical pursuits and the family moved to Pittsburgh, coming to Ohio and settling in Steubenville in 1840.  Dr. Pearce was educated in the public school and Grove Academy in this city.  In 1848 he began the study of mdicine under the preceptorship of Dr. Benjamin Tappan.  He attended the Medical Department of the University of New York City in 1851-52, and also the Jefferson Medical School at Philadelphia , in 1853-54.  He began the practice of medicine in Steubenville in 1854, and continued the practice until he entered the United States Army in 1861.

He was married to Miss Cecelia Jane Savary, daughter of Richard and Betsy Savary on December 25, 1860, in Pittsburgh.  To the union the following children were born: George Grant, Jessie B, Frank Savary, Oliver Branch, Beulah Viola, and E. Stanton.

Dr. Pearce had an enviable record in the Civil War.  He was appointed assistant surgeon of the 24th OVI on July 2, 1861 by Governor Dennison but the appointment was not accepted.  Governor Todd appointed him surgeon of the 61st OVI on October 15, 1861 and it was accepted.  He was made surgeon in chief of the First Brigade, Third Division, 11th Corps, Army of the Potomac, January 3, 1863.  He was appointed by President Lincoln as assistant surgeon of United States Volunteers on September 2, 1863.  He was promoted by President Lincoln to surgeon of United States Volunteers September 9, 1863.  He was appointed by the President, Brevet-Lieutenant-Colonel United States Volunteers for gallant and meritorious service, to date from March 13, 1865.  Dr. Pearce was on the front in at least 20 battles and did great service in relieving the wounded.

At the close of the war Dr. Pearce was appointed by President Grant, United States Examining Surgeon for the Steubenville District in 1869, and served in that capacity for over 20 years.  He was a member of the Loyal Legion, Department of Ohio, Cincinnati; of Stanton Post GAR; President of the Soldiers and Sailors Association of Jefferson County; a member of the Jefferson County Medical Association; an honorary member of the F. Savary Pearce Society, Pittsburgh; the Jefferson University Alumni Association, Philadelphia; and the D. Hayes Agnew Society, Philadelphia.

Dr. Pearce wrote the letter to Daniel Henry Rucker (1812-1910). “At the start of the Civil War, he was 49 and had been in the Army for 24 years. He declined an appointment as Major in the 6th Cavalry, preferring to remain in the Quartermaster’s Department where he was promoted to Major on August 3, 1861, and placed in charge of the Washington Depot. On September 28, 1861, he was promoted to colonel and appointed as an additional aide-de-camp to General George B. McClellan. During the war years he remained in charge of the great depot that developed at Washington, through which passed a major portion of the supplies for the armies before Richmond and the Atlantic Coast. At the end of the war General Rucker initiated auction sale of surplus animals and equipment, selecting the best of the Quartermaster supplies for storage at various points. He oversaw the post Civil War downsizing of depot operations and personnel.” [Source: U S. Army Quartermaster Museum]

TRANSCRIPTION

General D. H. Rucker
Acting Quarter Master General
Sirs,

In asking for a Certificate of non-indebtedness from the Quarter Masters Department, I would most respectfully inform you that I have not now any invoices or receipts for Quarter Masters stores issued by the Q. M. Department to me while I was an officer in the [61st Ohio Volunteer Infantry].

I did receive from said department some stores but am unable to state all the articles or the number of each with certainty, or the exact time or place of receiving or issuing them.

I have however in the Returns herewith submitted stated from memory the quantity and kind of property received and issued.

The six mules, their harness, one large wagon, two wagon tongues and one wagon cover were received sometime in the winter of ’62 & ’63. The four horses with their harness, one Dunton Medical Wagon ¹ and one wagon cover were received from Quarter Master train not known at Aquia Creek. All of the invoices of which were unavoidably lost by me during active service. All of the above named property was by order turned in to some officer (I believe a Quarter Master) at Alexandria, Va., when the command of General Hooker consisting of the 11th & 12th Corps passed through that city on its way from Catlett’s Station, Va.

Bridgeport, Alabama about September 1863. Whether receipts were given me at the time I am unable to say. When the 11th Corps arrived at Alexandria, I was ordered by General Howard to take charge of all the sick of said Corps and secure for them hospital accomodations—and immediately follow the command—which occupied my time so entirely that I cannot now say whether any receipts were given me. But if there was, they have been unavoidably lost.

The one wall tent with fly, poles, & pins was received of G. J. Wygum, Quartermaster 61st O V. I. at or near New Creek, Va., spring of 1862. Cannot say to whom it was issued by me.

Five of the hospital tents with their poles, pins & fly and hospital stove were issued to [paper creased] Brig., 3rd Div., 11th Corps [were distributed to?] 74th Pa. Infantry, Surg [George] Schloetzer 82nd Ill. Infantry, Surg. Hendricks 174th Penn. Infantry, the Surgeon (name not remembering) of the 68th New York Infantry. One other was retained in the 61st Regt. Regt. OVI of which I was the surgeon.

At the Battle of Gettysburg, the five tents with poles, pins & flies were put up for the accommodation of the wounded at the field hospital of the 11th Corps and by the order of Med. Director of the Corps, G[eorge] Suckly, Surgeon U. S. V., they were left at said hospital without any receipts received for them.

About the 10th of July 1862 [should be 1863], I drew by order while on the march 5 more hospital tents with poles, pins and flies. One tent complete with poles, pins and fly were issued to the same medical officers before named. We were then on the march every day. The property was received and issued at night and I cannot say whether I received receipts for the invoices or receipts for them or not. One other hospital tent complete was left at Corps Hospital Gettysburg under the same circumstances before mentioned, no receipt being given and  The remaining hospital tent was turned into a Quarter Master at Alexandria at the same time that I turned in the horses, mules, wagons, &c. at Alexandria as before mentioned.  All the Q. M. stores received by me were faithfully disposed of by me in accordance with the wants of the troops under my charge as medical officer. Their distribution was under circumstances of active service in the field, on the march, before, during and after battle and I have not been able to maintain invoices and receipts as required by regulations. So far I am technically at a loss but under all the circumstances, I respectfully represent that the technicality should not be set up against me in the settlement of my accounts. It is now utterly impossible for me to have recourse to the medical officers who drew stores from me and equally impossible for them to account for the same. I had none of this property on hand when I left the army.

I respectfully submit this statement to which appended my oath as a deposition which I respectfully request may be submitted to the Secretary of War for action therein for such relief as he may be able to grant me under the law which enables him to relieve officers for lost property or property not on hand, which cannot be regularly accounted for.

I am sir, very respectfully, — E. Pearce, late Surgeon, U. S. V.


¹ The Dunton Medical Wagon looked like a Conestoga wagon with doors that opened on the sides to dispense medicines. It was not a favorite of the doctors because of its limited capacity.

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