Dr. William H. White Letter to the Sercetary of War

William D. White’s paternal grandfather, Dr. William Henry White, was the victim of politics during the Civil War. Evidently he was replaced without notice as Brigade Surgeon of the 2 Delaware by a Dr. David Houston. White continued to serve and was even taken prisoner. In this letter, White petitions for five month’s pay due him.

To the Hon the Secretary of War

The Petition of the Subscriber Respectfully represents

That in the early part of last August at the earnest Solicitation of the line and field officers of the Second Del Regiment I consented to serve as Surgeon for that Regt. and accordingly presented myself before the State Medical Board who passed me but on application to the Governor of Delaware he refused to Commission me and as I was advised for no other reason but that I was very active in my support of the Lamented Douglass for President. The officers of the Regt. then applied to the Hon Simon Cameron then Secretary of War for my appointment as their Surgeon, and the Secretary of War replied “If a vacancy exists Doctor White will be mustered into Service.”

Colonel Wharton immediately notified me that I was the unanimous choice of the regiment, of which he cordially approved and directed me to report myself immediately which I did leaving Wilmington and arriving at Camp Wharton Cambridge on the 2d October having been mustered in on the 30th September. I was cordially received by the Regt from and recognized by Genl Lockwood and other officers – and remained on duty for six weeks, when an order came from the War department to recognize Dr. David Houston as Surgeon of the Regiment much to the dissatisfaction of all which has in no degree abated – I immediately repaired to Washington to learn the cause of this strange procedure, and was advised by the Surgeon General to return to the Regt for my claim was a just one but upon my return I immediately found an order for me to present myself before the Army Medical Board in Washington for examination for position of Brigade Surgeon. I did so and the examination was satisfactory and this appointment recommended.

And therefore as I have never been Mustered out and have always held myself in readiness to obey orders – I think it no evidence of a lack of patriotism to ask that I be paid for five months service. I left a good and lucrative practice in Wilmington to serve my country in the Capacity I considered myself the best qualified and at the same time transferred my practice (to) another which I cannot for some time yet assume it without considerable trouble and a reasonable appearance of unfairness and I therefore ask that I may receive pay for five months Service to which I think I am fairly entitled.

William H. White