Month: March 2015
One of the things that made the Invalid Corps stand out (beyond the fact that these men had disabilities) was their uniform. Rather than the “standard” (as much as uniforms could be considered standardized at that time), dark blue coat and light blue trousers, the Invalid Corps had a light blue jacket and trousers with a stripe. General Orders No. 124 May 15, 1863 states:
The following uniform has been adopted for the Invalid Corps:
Jacket – Of sky-blue kersey, with dark-blue trimmings, cut like the jacket of the U.S. Cavalry, to come well down on the loins and abdomen.
Trousers – Present regulation, sky-blue.
Forage Cap – present regulation
However, the light blue uniform was not looked upon favorably. From the compilation of Official records of the Union and Confederate Armies, final report to Brigadier General James Fry, the War Department Provost Marshal General’s Office regarding the Veteran Reserve Corps (November 1865) from Captain J.W. De Forest, Veteran Reserve Corps and Acting Assistant Adjutant General:
The uniform was becoming but has never been popular. The men did not like to be distinguished from their comrades of the active service by a peculiar costume; they wanted to keep the dark blue blouse and dress coat in which they had learned their profession and received their honorable disabilities. This feeling was aggravated by the inevitable jealousy between field and garrison regiments which ripened into something like bitterness between the soldiers of the Invalid Corps and the ranks in which they had so lately marched and fought. In the case of the officers the light blue was so far from agreeable to the eye and soiled so easily that they were eventually allowed and then directed to resume the dark blue frock coat although retaining the other insignia of their branch of the service.
When talking about the Invalid Corps one of the first questions that usually arises is who were these men? What kind of disabilities did they have? The question is answered (in detail) in General Orders, No. 212 from the War Department, Adjutant-General’s Office (July 9, 1863):
In executing the provisions of General Orders, No. 105, from this Department, in regard to the selection of men for the Invalid Corps, Medical Inspectors, Surgeons in charge of Hospitals, Camps, Regiments, or of Boards of Enrollment, Military Commanders, and all others required to make the physical examination of men for the Invalid Corps, will be governed in their decisions by the following list of qualification and disqualifications for admission into this Corps:
Physical infirmities that incapacitate Enlisted Men for Field Service, but do not disqualify them for service in the Invalid Corps.
1. Epilepsy, if the seizures do not occur more frequently than once a month, and have not impaired the mental faculties.
2. Paralysis, if confined to one upper extremity.
3. Hypertrophy of the heart, unaccompanied with valvular lesion. Confirmed nervous debility or excitability of the heart, with palpitation, great frequency of the pulse, and loss of strength.
4. Impeded respiration following injuries of the chest, pneumonia, or pleurisy. Incipient consumption.
5. Chronic dyspepsia or chronic diarrhoea, which has long resisted treatment. Simple enlargement of the liver or spleen, with tender or tumid abdomen
6. Chronic disorders of the kidneys or bladder, without manifest organic disease, and which have not yielded to treatment. Incontinence of urine; mere frequency of micturition does not exempt.
7. Decided feebleness of constitution, whether natural or acquired. Soldiers over fifty, and under eighteen years of age, are proper subjects for the Invalid Corps.
8. Chronic rheumatism, if manifested by positive cl???ge of structure, wasting or contraction of the muscles of the affected limb, or puffness or distortion of the joints.
9. Pain, if accompanied with manifest derangement of the general health, wasting of a limb, or other positive sign of disease.
10. Loss of sight of right eye ??? partial loss of sight of both eyes, or permanent diseases of either eye, affecting the integrity or use of the other eye, vision being impaired to such a degree clearly to incapacitate for field service. Loss of sight of left eye, or incurable diseases or imperfections of that eye, not affecting the use of the right eye, nor requiring medical treatment, do not disqualify for field service.
11. Myopia, if very decided or depending upon structural change of the eye. Hemeralopia, if confirmed.
12. Purulent otorrhoea; partial deafness, if in a degree sufficient to prevent hearing words of command as usually given.
13. Stammering, unless excessive and confirmed.
14. Chronic aphonia, which has long resisted treatment, the voice remaining too feeble to give an order or an alarm, but yet sufficiently distinct for intelligible conversation.
15. Incurable deformities of either jaw, sufficient to impede but not to prevent mastication or deglutition. Loss of a sufficient number of teeth to prevent proper mastication of food.
16. Torticollis, if of long standing and well marked.
17. Hernia; abdomen grossly protuberant; excessive obesity.
18. Internal hemorrhoids. Fistula in ???no, if extensive or complicated, with visceral disease. Prolapsus ani.
19. Stricture of the uretha.
20. Loss or complete atrophy of both testicles from any cause: permanent retraction of one or both testicle with in the inguinal canal.
21. Varicocele and cirsocele, if excessive, or painful; simple sarcocele, if not excessive nor painful.
22. Loss of arm, forearm, hand, thigh, leg or foot.
23. Wounds or injuries of the head, neck, chest, abdomen or back, that have impaired the health, strength or efficiency of the soldier.
24. Wounds, fractures, injuries, tumors, atrophy of a limb or chronic diseases of the joints or bones, that would impede marching, or prevent continuous muscular exertion.
25. Anchylosis of the shoulder, elbow, wrist, knee or ankle joint.
26. Irreducible dislocation of the shoulder, elbow, wrist or ankle joint, in which the bones have accommodated themselves to their new relations.
27. Muscular or cutaneous contractions from wounds or burns, in a degree sufficient to prevent useful motion of a limb.
28. Total loss of a thumb, loss of ungual phalanx of right thumb; permanent contraction or extension of either thumb.
29. Total loss of any two fingers of the same hand.
30. Total loss of index finger of right hand; loss of second and third phalanges of index finger of right hand, if the stump is tender or the motion of the first phalanx is impaired. Loss of the third phalanx does not incapacitate for field-service.
31. Loss of the second and third phalanges of all the fingers of either hand.
32. Permanent extension or permanent contraction of any finger, except the little finger: all the fingers adherent or united.
33. Total loss of either great toe; loss of any three toes on the same foot; all the toes joined together.
34. Deformities of the toes, if sufficient to prevent marching.
35. Large, flat, ill-shaped feet, that do not come within the designation of talipes valgus, but are sufficiently malformed to prevent marching.
36. Varicose veins of interior extremities, if large and numerous, having clusters of knots, and accompanied with chronic swellings.
37. Extensive, deep and adherent cicatrices of lower extremities.