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U.S. Army Veterinary Corps

Books and Documents







Medical Department

U. S. Army

This publication is issued by direction of the Surgeon General for the information of Officers of the Veterinary Corps. It has not the force of War Department Regulations but is suggestive only.

Office of Surgeon General 





1.  This guide Consists largely of extracts and summaries from official publications, orders and books bearing on the duties of veterinarians serving the United States Army. It should be read in conjunction with U. S. Army Regulations, Manual for Courts Martial, Field Service Regulations, and the Veterinary Regulations, U. S. Army (S. R. No. 70).

2. All officers of the Corps will bear in mind that their duty is to assist the Army. Their branch of the service is not a paramount but an auxiliary service. It is only by whole-hearted devotion to duty, irrespective of personal interests, that they can prove the value of the Corps in an army of today. The aim of the service is to develop a high rate of efficiency among the animals of the Army by helping to maintain a high standard of stable management and control; by eliminating and preventing communicable diseases, sickness and injuries; by treating all cases of disease and injury so that they may be returned to service fit for duty at the earliest possible moment. This aim can be accomplished most economically and efficiently by treatment of the animals in thoroughly organized


and properly equipped hospitals. By this method only will it be possible to prevent the retention in the Army of animals so diseased or injured that their cure would cost more than the placing of a fresh remount in service. Veterinarians should examine patients at the earliest possible moment and arrive at a decision as to whether the affected animals should be destroyed, sold or retained for treatment. In arriving at a decision, the circumstances of the moment and the military situation must be considered. It cannot be too strongly impressed upon all that the value of the veterinary service in the zone of the advance (as distinct from that with line of communication troops) depends entirely on its ability to keep the horses of field units efficient, and to relieve units at the earliest possible moment of the incubus of inefficient horses. These objects can only be attained if unit veterinarians perform their duties as advisors on stable management and other matters directly or indirectly affecting the health and condition of animals in their veterinary charge. They must systematically evacuate to veterinary hospitals, through the mobile veterinary section, all sick and injured animals, excepting the most trivial cases. Tact and energy, particularly energy, will be of great assistance.

3. Officers should show by their disciplined bearing, eagerness to do their duty, and cleanliness in


personal appearance and surroundings that they are fitted to do the work required of them.

4. Officers under all circumstances should hear in mind the supreme importance of discipline. They must render implicit obedience to all orders from superior authority, and insist on receiving similar obedience from those under them.

5. Those holding appointments are required to see that all orders issued are of a legitimate nature and are given in a clear and definite form.

6. The rules and customs of the service should be adhered to as closely as the altered circumstances of modern war will allow. Any officer disregarding rules and customs is held responsible that the circumstances of the moment necessitated such disregard.

7. Officers will bear in mind that in efficiently conducting the duties of the Corps no time will be left for criticising other branches of the service, except such as may affect the health of animals. Any criticism necessary must be made officially and through proper channels. Criticism of the type or class of horse purchased is not justifiable unless solicited. The duties of veterinary officers in connection with the purchase of animals is confined to an expression of their opinion as to the age, health and soundness of such animals.


8.  Correspondence will be conducted in accordance with the rules and customs of the service, vide, U. S. Army Regulations, paragraphs 775-803, 811-814, and 820-824.

9. All officers must make themselves acquainted with the Manual of Courts Martial, U. S. Army, 1917 edition, particularly the procedure to be adopted in maintaining discipline by summary courts martial. Their attention is directed to Chapter 5, Sections 1 and 2; Chapter 6, Sections 1 and 2; and Chapter 17, Sections 2, 4, 5 (428-429), and 6 (433-435-436-437-439-440-445-446), and Appendices 3 and 8.

10. Officers should acquaint themselves with all regulations and orders. Ignorance is not accepted as an excuse for their non-observance. The commanding officer should use every effort to prevent infractions of discipline and to suppress any tendency to screen their existence. An officer is responsible for the maintenance of good order and the rules and discipline of the service. He should give the utmost aid and support to his commanding officer. The practice of writing private letters to, or endeavoring to obtain personal interviews with, senior officers on subjects of a personal nature should not be encouraged. Attention is invited to U. S. Army Regulations, particularly the following


paragraphs: 1-5, 90-92, 116, 133, 162, 168, 322-330, 584-596, 682-701, 807-810, 903-914, 922-943, 1320-1326-1337, 1347, 1372-1374. A thorough acquaintance with the contents of the above paragraphs will go a long way towards helping any veterinarian in command of a veterinary unit to carry through his duties with credit to the service.

11. Veterinarians on active service should be in possession of the following:

(a) A large-scale map of the district in which they are working.

(b) Veterinary regulations U. S. Army (S. R. No. 70).

(c) Report blanks.

(d) Case book or note book for recording sick admitted and under treatment.

(e) Field Service Regulation.

(f) Veterinarian?s wallet.

12. When any veterinary necessity of the moment comes in conflict with a purely military necessity, the former must go to the wall. The decision, in such a case, lies with the military authority, who alone is in possession of all the facts of the situation and who alone can decide.


Administrative Staff Officers.

13. Under the general officer commanding, the senior veterinary officer has control of all officers and enlisted personnel of the Veterinary Corps in the area, command or formation, as well as control of all civilians employed by the Corps. He countersigns and is held responsible for the correctness of all documents passing through his office. He should see that the general officer commanding and the Director of the Veterinary Corps are kept in close touch with the condition and efficiency of all animals in his charge. On his ability as a tactful administrator and organizer depends the efficiency of the veterinary service within his organization.

14. The attention of every such staff officer is invited to the fact, that only by making constant inspection of the animals in his organization can he satisfy himself of the actual, as opposed to the paper, state of affairs.

15. Inspections should be thoroughly carried out. The following procedure is recommended: An order from headquarters of the organization to which he is attached should he obtained authorizing an inspection or series of inspections of units in the command or organization. The commanding officers of units to be inspected should be informed well in advance of the date and hour of inspection. The


authority for such inspection should be quoted in the letter of advice. It should contain a request that the senior veterinary officer be present during the period of inspection. Every horse of the unit concerned should be examined in such a manner that it will be possible to judge its condition, freedom from disease, and state of shoeing. He should also inspect the stables, corrals, water troughs, forage buildings, sick lines, pharmacy, etc., and judge whether they are adequate to the needs of the unit.

16. At the termination of his inspection, he should inform the commanding officer verbally of the opinion he has formed. A copy of any written report should be forwarded to the commanding officer by the officer to whom it is rendered. Care should be taken not to neglect the courtesies and customs of the service in reporting his arrival and departure. At the termination of his inspection he will render a report as required by Veterinary Regulations U. S. Army (S. R. No. 70).

17. Division veterinarians should see every horse in their division at least once each month. Normally, all units of a division will be within reasonable reach. An order from division headquarters authorizing an inspection should therefore not be necessary.


Unit Veterinarians.

18.  Unit veterinarians are attached to the headquarters of the unit. Each unit veterinarian has three enlisted men of the Veterinary Corps assigned to him for duty, the whole being known as ?a veterinary unit.? The unit is under the commanding officer of the organization for discipline. It will conform to all regulations regarding billeting, dress, etc., in force in the unit. It is under the orders of the division veterinarian in regard to purely professional matters.

19. On arrival in or departure from the division whether on assignment or on leave, veterinarians should report to the division veterinarian. Applications for leave are submitted to unit headquarters, and by them to division headquarters. On taking or handing over charge of a unit, a unit veterinarian should obtain from, or give to the veterinary officer he relieves or is relieved by, copies of the last weekly report rendered. He should hand over all veterinary equipment in his charge. He will take or hand over in person all animals on the sick list at the time of transfer. On assignment to a unit he should get in touch with the commanding officer and transport officer as soon as possible.

20. Unit veterinarians should arrange to visit each detachment daily. All cases of sick and in-


jured animals should be reported by the officer or 1st Sergeant in charge of each detachment of a unit to the Veterinary Corps representative. This should be done as soon as possible. The veterinarian should then decide whether the case should be treated in the sick lines or evacuated to hospital. The veterinarian should keep a case book, in which to record all cases under treatment, showing the date diagnosis, and how and when disposed of. From this information he will compile the weekly report called for by the Veterinary Regulation (S. R. No. 70).

21. Veterinarians should be prompt in rendering attention to emergency cases in their own or in any other unit or formation when asked to do so. If at any time they consider they have been called unnecessarily, they can report the matter to the division veterinarian, but will meanwhile give the necessary attention to the case.

22. Veterinarians are attached to units not so much for treating sick and lame animals as for the purpose of retaining them in an efficient and serviceable condition. They should be on the lookout for the first symptoms of communicable disease, loss of condition, faulty stable management, or indifferent shoeing.


23. They should keep unit commanders informed of the condition of their horses. A short weekly report to commanding officers may be advisable. 

24. Loss of condition or indifferent stable management, bad watering arrangements, want of exercise, insanitary lines, etc., should be brought to the notice of the troop or battery commander. If not remedied promptly the fault should be brought to the notice of the regimental commander and, if necessary, to the division veterinarian. Unit veterinarians should carry out their duties tactfully but must not allow themselves to be persuaded from doing their duty.

25.  Unit veterinarians should arrange with the headquarters of the unit to be informed promptly of the expected arrival or departure of all animals. They should inspect all such animals prior to departure or immediately on arrival, and render a report to the division veterinarian stating if such are free from disease and of their general condition at the time of inspection. In no case should they consent to animals suffering from communicable disease accompanying a unit leaving the division or being transferred from the division to any place except a veterinary hospital.

26. They should organize in each unit a simple but effective system of control of minor sick and


injured animals. With the permission of the commanding officer, they will obtain the necessary number of stalls at the end of some stable. They should arrange that all sick and injured animals are sent to these stalls, in which they must remain while on the sick list. They should bear in mind that once an animal is placed on the sick list it comes under their charge and remains there until cured, evacuated, dies or is destroyed. They are responsible for any animal destroyed on their recommendation and it should be destroyed in their presence. No horse should be destroyed except by order of the proper authority, unless it is incurably injured and is suffering great pain.

27.  The veterinarian is responsible for the sick lines and the condition and stable management of the animals therein. He must see that all drugs and dressings are economically expended. The condition of

the sick lines should be a model in sanitation, grooming, stable management and discipline.

28. Veterinarians will be called upon to perform so many duties in keeping the horses in their charge efficient and fit that they will often not have time to operate, dress injuries and wounds, or give much attention to individual cases. They must therefore send practically all cases to the nearest hos?


pital. They should retain with the unit only minor cases. Sick or injured animals are more economically treated and more quickly returned to duty from a hospital than would be possible in the best circumstances attainable with a unit.

29. They should guard against evacuating animals so seriously injured that their value when cured is problematic. Such animals only choke up hospitals and prevent the efficient treatment of suitable cases and should be condemned or destroyed forthwith.

30.  During active operations collecting stations are opened by the division mobile section in the vicinity of the bulk of horses of the division in action. Wounded or injured animals in the vicinity of these stations should be sent direct to the nearest station.

31. During an action veterinarians should endeavor to render first aid to all animals prior to evacuating them to a collecting station. Unit veterinarians should bear in mind that in action the military situation is paramount and that the chief aim of the veterinary service is to remove from the fighting line and the congested area immediately behind it all animals that are not able to perform their duties and are a hinderance to the military operations.


32. No obstruction should be caused on roads utilized by troops or supplies by parties of sick and wounded animals moving to the rear.

Duties of Officers Commanding Mobile Veterinary Sections.

33. The mobile veterinary sections are field units and form part of the military strength of each division.

34.  The commanding officer of a mobile veterinary section is responsible, through the division veterinarian, to the general officer commanding the division, for the maintenance of discipline, efficiency and proper system in the unit under his command.

35. The duties of the section are to remove from combatant units at the earliest possible moment, all such sick and wounded animals as are a hinderance to the efficiency of the unit. In the performance of this duty the utmost rapidity compatible with the welfare of the sick and injured animals should be employed.

36. All animals collected by mobile veterinary sections should be examined, their diseases diagnosed, and the animals tagged in accordance with the instructions contained in the Veterinary Regu?


lations U. S. Army (S. R. No. 70). Any treatment possible should be given prior to the animal being evacuated to the hospital.

37. All animals suffering from injuries or wounds should receive careful attention.

38. During an action the officer in accordance with the instructions of his division veterinarian should form one or more collecting posts in the vicinity of the bulk of the horses in action. To these posts he will send all wounded animals. He should see that all animals collected during the day are evacuated to rail head and thence to the nearest veterinary hospital during the night. He must exercise the greatest care during the evacuation of sick and wounded horses to avoid causing any obstruction or block on roads. The collections of animals made by mobile veterinary sections must be moved to the rear in disciplined parties on roads allotted for rear moving traffic or, if necessary, across country. Immediately on arrival at a new collecting post the mobile section commander should therefore acquaint himself with the surrounding neighborhood and note any ditches that may have to be bridged, or hedges to be cut.

39. The officer should forward, with all animals evacuated to veterinary hospitals, a complete list of such animals in accordance with the instructions


contained in the Veterinary Regulations U. S. Army (S. R. No. 70).

40. Military discipline and organization is as necessary to a veterinary field unit as it is to any combatant unit, if it is to work efficiently and prove its value in a field army. To acquire this discipline it is desirable that the commanding officer of the mobile section should utilize every possible opportunity to train his men in elementary drill, and handling groups of horses on the road. The ?mobile section rope harness? has been used for this purpose to good advantage. (See figure 1.)

41. All field units are required to protect themselves and be independent of an armed escort. It is recommended that the mobile section commander endeavor to teach his men to handle their arms in such a manner that they can feel reasonably confident of holding off enemy scouting parties.

Veterinary Hospital.

42. Veterinary hospitals are units of the lines of communication in the theater of operations and divisional units in the interior. In the former case the commanding officer of the hospital is responsible to the General Officer commanding lines of communication, through the assistant chief veterinarian


Method of Exercising Under Control, and of "Evacuating" sick and wounded Horses from fighting line


on his staff. In the latter case he is responsible to the General Officer commanding the division.

43. The duties of the commanding officer of a hospital are, to receive sick and wounded animals sent to him by any unit. To restore such animals to a state of usefulness and return them to duty in the earliest possible time. In no case should this period exceed thirty-five days. The average time should not be over thirty days.

44. The commanding officer of a hospital is responsible that all recruits and drafts assigned to the unit are immediately put in training, so that they may be of the greatest use in the shortest space of time.

45.  He should supervise and control all duties performed by those under his command. He is accountable for all equipment and stores of his establishment.

46.  He is responsible for the safe custody, care and treatment of all animals sent to the hospital for treatment. Such animals should be placed on the strength of his unit immediately and similarly struck off when discharged, destroyed, or sold.

47. He is responsible for the correct receipt of all supplies and that the daily issues are inspected and weighed in the presence of an officer.


48. He should cause every order issued for general information to be republished in Hospital Orders, or circulated to all whom it may concern in the unit. He should afford his officers facilities for becoming acquainted with changes in the regulations and orders. He is responsible for the proper application of all hospital or company funds, and that the next senior officer under him is given the necessary instruction to enable him to assume command of a similar unit when required.

49.  It is his duty to bring to the notice of the General Officer commanding any officers distinguished for proficiency, also those who are inefficient or do not afford him the necessary support, and any who are considered injurious to the efficiency of the corps.

50. He is responsible that all reports required by the Army Regulations and the Veterinary Regulations U. S. Army (S. R. No. 70) are made as they become due, and that any special reports called for by competent authority are rendered without delay.

51. As the veterinary service is still in a formative stage, the officers commanding veterinary hospitals are encouraged to ascertain the most suitable hospital organization and to forward through the proper channels, to the office of the Director of the Veterinary Corps, details of the method of organization they find most suitable.


Senior Veterinarians at Remount Depots.

52.  An officer assigned as senior veterinarian at a remount depot is responsible to the commanding officer of the depot for the efficient administration of the veterinary service.

53.  Under the commanding officer he has command and supervision of the veterinary personnel attached to the depot and assigns his subordinates to appropriate duties.

54. All remounts arriving at the depot should be examined immediately and prior to their distribution to the various stables or corrals. Any suffering from contagious or infectious disease or serious injury should be dispatched to the nearest hospital. Animals suffering from minor injuries and sickness should be treated within the depot in sick lines set apart by the commanding officer for that purpose.

55. The senior veterinarian should arrange to make frequent inspections of all animals while they remain in the depot. The animals must be inspected for communicable disease prior to issue, and none suffering from disease or injury of any description should be so issued.

56. The temperature of every remount should be taken once daily during the first month. While this is impracticable under the corral system of


stabling, there is no more valuable method for detecting communicable disease in the early stages than by the judicious use of the thermometer.

57. No animal should be issued, unless the military circumstances of the moment necessitate it, until it has been for a period of one month free from any symptoms of communicable disease.

58. Under the orders of the senior veterinarian, veterinarians at remount depots will do all in their power to assist the commanding officer in issuing to units healthy, fit and well-conditioned animals. All veterinarians should he willing to render any assistance in the way of advice or professional attention. They should be constantly on the lookout for the first symptoms of communicable disease, and take immediate steps to notify the senior veterinarian of its existence.

Duties of Veterinarians on Duty at Ports of Embarkation.

59. The senior veterinarian on duty at a port of embarkation is assigned to the headquarters of the Embarkation Staff.

60. He is responsible under the direction of the commanding officer of the port that no horse is embarked until he has been thoroughly examined and is known to be free from communicable disease


and that all such animals are in such condition that they will be fit for normal duty within a reasonable period after arrival at destination. He should see that the veterinary officer assigned to each transport is acquainted with all rules and regulations governing the care of horses at sea.

61. When a mounted unit is proceeding over seas, accompanied by its horses, the veterinarian attached to the unit is in charge of such animals. The veterinarian appointed by the commanding officer, port of embarkation, is in charge of all other animals on board.

62. The following procedure is advisable in embarking horses: On arriving abreast the ship, horses should be unsaddled or unharnessed. A horseshoer should inspect the shoes and turn down all loose clenches. When animals are walked on board, one man should be assigned to each horse. Mats of straw should be laid along the gangways and decks. Horses should be led in close sections and in such an order that those which have stood together ashore may be neighbors on the ship. Kickers should be put in stalls.

63. As troop horses may be required for service soon after landing, they should embark in good, hard, working condition. Attention should be paid to their digestion. The day previous to embarka?


tion they should be given bran mashes. Hay should be placed in the stalls before the animals arrive. If the animals are walked on board, they should be watered and fed with grain previous to embarking. If they are to be slung on board, they should not be watered or fed within two hours previous to loading.

64. Five per cent of the stalls should be left vacant so that they may be utilized for sick horses.

65. Great care is necessary to prevent ?ship pneumonia.? This is a serious type of gangrenous pneumonia that results from a foetid atmosphere.

67. All animals suffering from lung troubles, should l)e immediately removed to a well-ventilated upper deck, and if possible, segregated. Stalls so vacated, and those in their vicinity, should be thoroughly disinfected.

68. The transport veterinarian should see that he is provided with all apparatus and drugs that may be required during the voyage, and that there is a sufficient supply of bran. linsed or similar feeding stuffs for the use of sick horses.

69. Daily inspections should be made by the veterinarian and a system of daily ?stables? should be instituted. During ?stables,? and when the weather permits, all horses should be shifted at least one


stall along and groomed, feet washed, legs rubbed, eyes, nostrils and dock sponged. Fine cinders should then be sprinkled under each horse to give him a firm standing. Manure should be removed daily from the stalls and thrown overboard if circumstances permit.

70. Ventilation is of such importance that the greatest attention must be paid to see that all possible air inlets and outlets are working to their greatest power. If possible, and in good weather, an attempt should be made to exercise horses traveling with units, on deck.

71. Horses should be watered at least three times a day. An allowance of about eight gallons daily should be provided for each animal.

Duties of Meat Inspectors.

72. A veterinary officer detailed as meat inspector with troops inspects all meat and dairy products delivered by contractors or others for consumption by the organization to which he is attached. The duty of inspecting such articles after they have been delivered by the Quartermaster to company kitchens may be performed by the division sanitary inspector or the meat inspector, as the division commander may decide. In addition to his other duties the meat inspector may be assigned the duty of in-

specting forage and as assistant to the division veterinarian in making sanitary inspections of the horse lines, stables, corrals, etc., of the division. In matters pertaining to inspection of food products his reports should go to the division commander through the division surgeon.