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Great Fires: 1906 Great Earthquake & Fire

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Appendix A.
Earthquake in California, April 18, 1906
Special Report of Maj. Gen. Adolphus W. Greely, U. S. A., Commanding the Pacific Division

Report of Lieut. Col. George H. Torney, Medical Department,
United States Army.

Presidio, San Francisco, Cal., May 14, 1906.

SIR: In compliance with telegraphic instructions from the Surgeon-General of the Army, Washington, D. C., I have respectfully to submit the following brief narrative statement of the work of the Medical Department, United States Army, which began shortly after the earthquake in San Francisco, Cal., at 5.13 a. m. on the 18th of April, 1906.

At this time, in addition to my duties as commanding officer of the Army General Hospital at the Presidio, I was serving as chief surgeon. Department of California, and because of this fact, among others, the work of the Army Medical Department in a great measure centered around the hospital. In this connection I desire to state that the Army General Hospital was badly wrecked by the earthquake. The power plant was disabled and the water shut off by a break in the pipes of the city water mains. The ward ventilators, heavy brick structures, were thrown upon the roofs of the wards, crushing through the roofs; sheets of plaster fell from the ceilings and walls of all buildings, and all telegraphic and telephonic communications were broken. This, of course, does not describe fully the extent of the damage, but is merely a statement made that the condition of the hospital may be understood.

April 18.—Early on the morning of the 18th of April all available officers of the Medical Department were instructed to hold themselves in readiness for active work. Company B, Hospital Corps, accompanied the troops from the Presidio into the city for active relief work in fighting fire. The actual work of relief for the refugees and sick began at the General Hospital at about 9 a. m., when a relief party in charge of Capt. H. H. Rutherford, assistant surgeon, U. S. A., was dispatched to the city with instructions to give relief where needed and to notify the city authorities that this hospital was open for the care of injured and sick. This was done because from the apparent magnitude of the calamity it was deemed necessary that refuge should at once be offered for the sick and injured. By 1 o'clock on that day 75 patients had been admitted to the hospital from the city, and by 11 o'clock p. m. the total had reached 127.

April 19.—On April 19 145 refugee patients were admitted to the General Hospital, mostly from the hospitals in the city which were either burning or threatened by fire; after that date the number lessened, but patients have been admitted even up to the present. During this day the bed capacity of the wards of the General Hospital having been exhausted, the four barracks of the men of the Hospital Corps were vacated and established as wards. The hospitals at the post of Presidio and Fort Mason were ordered open April 19, and received large numbers of refugee patients.

On the morning of April 19, owing to the great demand on the General Hospital for first-aid work, a tent emergency hospital was organized and established on the plain in front of the hospital reservation, Capt. H. H. Rutherford, assistant surgeon, U. S. A., in charge,

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with instructions to advise patients arriving from the city, to direct them to the proper hospitals, and to render assistance, treatment, and first-aid dressings to those on the ground.

April 20 to May 7.—On the morning of April 20 the president of the health commission of the city of San Francisco requested me to act as the head of the sanitary committee which it was proposed to establish in connection with sanitation of the city of San Francisco, this in order that there might be coordinate action between the army and civil authorities. Acting in the capacity of chief surgeon, I presented this request to the division commander, who, at my suggestion, issued the following order detailing me as chief sanitary officer of the city:

San Francisco, Cal., April 20, 1906.

2. Lieut. Col. George H. Torney, Medical Department, United States Army, is hereby placed in charge of the sanitary arrangements of the city of San Francisco. All his orders must be strictly obeyed by all parties whomsoever.
By command of Brigadier-General Funston:

Military Secretary.

I immediately relinquished my command of the General Hospital, transferring it to Capt. James M. Kennedy, assistant surgeon, U. S. A., and upon assuming the duties of chief sanitary officer, I divided the inhabited parts of the city into districts and placed a medical officer in charge of each. Within the first twenty-four hours organized relief and sanitary work began to assume definite shape and assisted many thousands of people who thronged the roads and streets seeking refuge on the Presidio and Fort Mason reservations and Golden Gate Park.

Presidio reservation.—The camps of refuge on the Presidio reservation were place in charge of Capt. H. H. Rutherford, assistant surgeon, U. S. A., who, by the end of the first three days, had perfected an organized relief and sanitary force which constructed concentrated camps, supplying tentage, tools, and necessary camp conveniences for cooking and carrying out sanitary measures after the manner of military camps. This arrangement continued until May 7, when these camps were turned over, by direction of the division commander, to the control of the officers of the line.
Golden Gate Park.—Practically this same arrangement obtained in Golden Gate Park under the charge of Capt. A. E. Truby, assistant surgeon, U. S. A., the camps in that part developing into permanent institutions under essentially the same methods of administration.
Fort Mason.—First Lieut. John A. Murtagh, assistant surgeon, U. S. A., was placed in charge of the district immediately surrounding Fort Mason, and was instrumental in procuring supplies and tentage for the refugees in that locality.
Small city parks.—First Lieut. R. U. Patterson, assistant surgeon, U. S. A., was detailed as sanitary officer of the small parks throughout the city and in this capacity rendered valuable assistance in relieving much distress amongst the refugees.
Post of Presidio.—In the post of Presidio the medical officers on post duty rendered valuable assistance, not only in professional services given, but in assisting the refugees in every possible manner.

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Company A, Hospital Corps.—Company A, Hospital Corps, on its arrival in San Francisco, was ordered to Golden Gate Park and a hospital established by Capt. H. L. Gilchrist, assistant surgeon, U. S. A., who, with exceptional industry and ability, soon placed this hospital in order and established a model institution and began almost immediately to receive patients from the surrounding camps and the hospitals in the city.

Permanent camps.—The health commission of the city has selected sites for permanent camps, ten of which have already been established. Four of these camps are located on the Presidio reservation and are on the same sites as those originally selected by Captain Rutherford when he organized the refugees. Between the Presidio and Fort Mason two large camps have been established, and the erection of a third one is contemplated on the Fort Mason reservation. It is proposed to establish a camp in Franklin Square, corner Sixteenth and Bryant streets. In Golden Gate Park one large barrack was constructed by the Citizens' Relief Committee, and at this barrack have been erected the sanitary troughs sent to this city by the War Department. At the suggestion of the sanitary officers it is now proposed to place these sanitary troughs at all permanent camps, and, carrying out the system for sanitary and economic measures originally recommended by the medical officers, these camps will contain only community kitchens, large kitchens corresponding to company kitchens in military camps. Under the proposed scheme these camps will be in charge of an officer of the line, and a commissioned medical officer of the Army will perform the duties of sanitary inspector and attending surgeon, with a civilian physician as assistant.

Contagious hospital.—On April 21, by authority of the Mayor of San Francisco, Harbor View Park, adjacent to the Presidio reservation, with tents, bedding, and hospital appliances, was established as a hospital for contagious diseases, under the control of Capt. H. H. Rutherford, assistant surgeon, U. S. A., Dr. K. A. J. Mackenzie, of Portland, Oreg., with an ample corps of assistants, nurses, and attendants, being placed in immediate charge. This plant was selected as a place for contagious diseases because of its admirable facilities in the possession of its own water supply, a large pavilion which could be used to accommodate 200 patients, and its own laundry. In this hospital cases of measles, scarlet fever, and diphtheria have been received and cared for. This is still under the control of the chief sanitary officer, but will be abandoned to-day and the patients transferred to the charge of the hospitals in the city.

Medical supply depot.—On April 19 requests for supplies were received from hospitals in the city and various camps, and these were furnished freely from the storeroom of the General Hospital, which was at that moment well equipped for all purposes. On April 21 a medical supply depot was improvised within the grounds of the General Hospital, Lieut. Col. L. Brechemin, deputy surgeon-general, U. S. A., medical supply officer, in charge, the entire stock of medical supplies in the city of San Francisco having been destroyed by fire. All medical supplies except those in the dispensary of the General Hospital were turned over to him for issue to authorized applicants, in addition to which he made purchases of relief stores in accordance with telegraphic instructions from the Surgeon-General of the Army. This small depot remained on the ground until April 28,

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when a larger establishment was organized east of the General Hospital reservation, which at this time has grown into an institution fully capable of meeting every demand made upon it. Vaccine virus is being received at this depot at the rate of 3,500 points per day and is being distributed on requisitions by the civil and army surgeons.

Free dispensaries.—At my suggestion to the health commission of the municipality, twenty-six free dispensaries have been established in the city and are receiving their supply of medicines from the medical supply depot of the Army.

Summary.—In conclusion, I desire to state that the magnitude of the disaster to the city of San Francisco, which occurred on April 18, 1906, was from the very moment of the calamity fully appreciated, and the necessary orders given by me to the officers of the Medical Department for measures of immediate relief not only to the sick and injured, but to the stricken multitude which called upon them for material assistance from the supplies under their control and those furnished to the General Hospital from the Quartermaster's Department, under charge of Maj. C. A. Devol, quartermaster, U. S. A., and from the Commissary Department, under charge of Maj. Charles R. Krauthoff, Subsistence Department, United States Army. This by order of Brig. Gen. Frederick Funston, U. S. A., commanding Pacific Division at that time.

After the pressing wants of the refugees had been met the problem of sanitation was paramount, as the large mains of the Spring Valley Water Company, which supplied the city with water, had been badly damaged, and the sewer system of the municipality seriously impaired—an extraordinary condition, which menaced the health of the whole population and required the enforcement of coercive measures to prevent a large class of people from proving, because of ignorance of sanitation, a danger to the whole community. In overcoming this danger the power granted me by General Funston, in the order quoted above, enabled the Medical Department of the Army, working in conjunction with the health commission of the city of San Francisco, to act promptly and effectively in solving at least the emergency problems of sanitation which presented. Paragraph 5, General Orders, No. 18, headquarters Pacific Division, April 29, 1906, modified the order mentioned continuing in force the arrangement whereby cooperation with the health authorities of the city was effected. This arrangement terminated this date by mutual agreement between the health commission and myself, as the Board of Health of the city is now in full control of its sanitation, except in the permanent refugee camps, within the limits of which military control is exercised by the commanding general, Pacific Division.

As chief sanitary officer, I will hereafter act under the provisions of General Orders, No. 29, headquarters Pacific Division, May 13, 1906, which was received this date.

The general health of the city may be considered good. The sanitation of the municipality proper is now little, if any, different from that existing under normal conditions, as the water in the city system is now being supplied freely and defects in the sewers corrected as rapidly as possible. In refugee camps on the Presidio the sanitation is as good as could be expected of a population of the character inhabiting the camps. The same may be said of the other camps. It is

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hoped that this may be improved from day to day, as facilities are furnished for that purpose.

The sanitary inspectors acting under my immediate orders were: Capt. W. T. Davidson, First Lieut. R. E. Noble, First Lieut. R. U. Patterson, and First Lieut. C. D. Buck, assistant surgeons, U. S. A.; First Lieut. John H. Allen, assistant surgeon, U.S.A., acting in capacity of adjutant. All of these officers rendering at all times most reliable service.

This report has been necessarily very brief and will be elaborated at a future date.

Very respectfully,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Deputy Surgeon-General, U. S. A.,
Chief Sanitary Officer.
Maj. Gen. A. W. GREELY, U. S. A.,
Commanding Pacific Division, San Francisco, Cal.

Report of First Lieut. John R. Devereux, Medical Department,
United States Army.

San Francisco, Cal., June 23, 1906.

SIR: In compliance with instructions of the division commander, I have the honor to make the following report on the subject of typhoid fever and smallpox:

We have an account of 99 cases of typhoid fever; of these 99 cases 4 cases occurred prior to April 18; of the 95 remaining cases 30 originated in April, 55 in May, and 10 in June. Of these 95 cases there are remaining 49 either in hospitals or in private houses, 17 have died, and 33 have been discharged as cured. Of the 49 remaining cases there are 4 in the United States General Hospital that are, to all intents and purposes, cured cases, so that practically we have but 45 cases of typhoid fever remaining in the city. Of the total number of cases reported there have only been 5 that were derived from the permanent camps whose residence was sufficiently long to have made their infection possible at these camps.

The monthly statistics here given will differ considerably from those of the health department of this city, inasmuch as they consider a case reported in any particular month as being "an admitted case for the month," whereas all of the 99 cases have been carefully analyzed, taking into consideration the day reported, the length of time sick previous, etc., and from this data was determined their proper "day of admission."

The United States General Hospital and the United States Field Hospital have had a total of 26 cases treated in their hospitals, with 3 deaths. One of these, which occurred at the United States Field Hospital, was admitted at 6 o'clock one evening and died next morning. The mortality for all cases is high.

Statistics from the State Board of Health show that the average number of admissions per month for the past two years have been 12. Comparing this with the figures given above it will be seen that the month of April showed 30 cases, not one of which was infected as

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a result of any of the conditions following the disaster, for the reason that the period between April 18 and May 1 was less than the shortest period of incubation.

Smallpox.—Of the smallpox cases there were admitted in the smallpox hospital in the month of April 74 cases, with 9 deaths; during the month of May 41 admissions, 2 deaths; during the month of June to date there have been 8 new cases admitted, no deaths, and 25 cases remaining in hospital. The total number of cases therefore is 123, with 11 deaths.

There have been approximately in permanent camps 15,000 people, and only one case has originated in a camp under our control. The health department gives me a report of 5 cases as having been taken from camps. An analysis of those cases will show them to have originated either before we took charge or them not to have been at what we now call "permanent camps."

Very respectfully,
Assistant Surgeon.
Pacific Division, San Francisco, Cal.

Report of Capt. Meriwether L. Walker, Corps of Engineers, United States Army.

FORT MASON, CAL., May 11, 1906.

GENERAL: I have the honor to make the following report concerning operations of engineer troops during the recent earthquake and fire:

1. At about 5.15 a. m., April 18, 1906, I was awakened by terrific shaking of the house and rushed out. Upon inspection the damage to my house appeared very slight, and I concluded that it was not a really severe shock and returned to my bed and fell asleep.

2. About 6.45 a. m., April 18, 1906, I was awakened by a call at my door, and found a civilian who said General Funston, department commander, ordered that I bring all available men to the Hall of Justice at once and report to the Mayor for duty, as the city was all in flames. Assuming that the message was all straight, I dressed hurriedly and sent orders for all officers and men to turn out in field equipment and 20 rounds of ball ammunition. The command, 5 officers and 150 men, moved out at 7.15 a. m., about, leaving 1 officer and necessary guard and working force to keep kitchens, quartermaster, commissary, and stables running.

3. At about 7.45 a. m., April 18, 1906, I reported to Mayor Schmitz at the Hall of Justice. He directed me to protect public and private property, and that I should go to the extent of taking life if necessary. The troops were disposed as follows: C Company, Captain Kelly, Lieutenants Barber and Emerson, and 75 enlisted men, protecting the banking district along Montgomery street and east for about three blocks. D Company, Captain Walker and Lieutenant Ehrnbeck and 75 enlisted men, covering Market street and one block north and south from Third street to the City Hall, where were some $7,000,000 of city funds.

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4. This disposition was preserved until 6 p. m., April 18, 1906, although many other troops came into the same localities, and every one joined in the work of guarding property and protecting citizens from their own rashness in going into and around burning and burned buildings, and preserving order. No effort at fighting the fire was practicable, as there was no water and no dynamite.

5. At 6 p. m., having in the meantime been directed to report to Colonel Morris, Artillery Corps, for orders, we were withdrawn, and the two companies patrolled Van Ness avenue and the five streets west thereof from the burned district about Golden Gate avenue to the sea.

6. At noon on April 19, 1906, we were hurriedly withdrawn by the department commander and returned to the post for sanitary work in connection with camps for refugees in the vicinity, and also to protect the post in case of fire. In the meantime the headquarters of both Pacific Division and Department of California had been established at Fort Mason.

7. The night of the 19th and all day of the 20th people poured in upon us so fast that we were swamped. My men and officers were exhausted, having been steadily on the go for forty hours, and all were turned in for rest, a company of the 22d Infantry taking guard of the post about 10 p. m. the 19th.

8. About 7 p. m. the 19th I sent an officer to Admiral Goodrich, commanding naval forces, on the Chicago, and requested the use of a fire boat if it could be obtained. He had one report to me early on the 20th, and she took station at our wharf and laid two lines of hose up the hill. A fire engine and more hose were obtained from the city, and as I had sufficient fresh water in my tanks to run the engine, the fire danger to the post was past. We, however, made arrangements to demolish all buildings near the post if necessary.

9. All day of the 20th the fire burned fiercely toward the post, and the fire department made use of my arrangements for water by relaying the salt water with their engines for about three-quarters of a mile up Van Ness avenue, their engines being supplied with fresh water and coal hauled from the post by post teams. I am of the opinion that this was largely instrumental in saving the west side of Van Ness avenue. By 9 p. m. the 20th the fire in this locality was under control and all danger past.

10. Saturday morning the condition confronted us of more than 20,000 people practically without food, water, or shelter, and all energies were bent toward remedying this, the medical officers having taken up the matter of sanitation. Conference with the navy developed that they could bring down from Vallejo ammunition barges carrying 50,000 gallons of water. This they promptly did, and they also installed a hand pump on the dock, and there was immediately ample fresh water for drinking and cooking. As soon as a barge was emptied, the navy would send in another.

11. A relief steamer from Stockton came in Saturday night and delivered quite a large supply of provisions and 1,500 blankets, and a little later a tug arrived with supplies of canned goods. A distribution station was opened at the flagstaff and these supplies issued to applicants, each person being given enough for a good substantial meal. The 20th and 21st, issues were made three times a day, and after that only twice per day.

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12. In addition each one of the companies doubled their kitchen forces, ran night and day, and fed the refugees hot meals as far as could be done. Every effort was made to secure tents and bedding, and issues were made as soon as any were secured. The D Company kitchen established a mess for officers and civilian employees of the headquarters, where about 250 people were fed daily.

13. In the meantime C Company had entirely vacated its quarters, wherein a hospital was established, and D Company had turned almost all of its quarters over to women, children, and old men.

14. The next week, from the 20th to the 29th, was spent in feeding and caring for the people, as outlined above, the usual guard duties being carried on and much police work being done. The enlisted men were assisted by about eight civilians employed in the D Company kitchen by the department quartermaster, and also by six men for police work.

15. During this period the dock here was used as a shipping point for getting the refugees out of the city, and thousands were taken away each day, there being several steamers plying regularly, including one of the large ferry boats.

16. By the 29th the number of people around here was tremendously reduced and nearly all had been concentrated in a camp established by the 22d Infantry in the large grass lot which forms part of the reservation. A regular water supply was arranged by the Government steamer Mifflin pumping our tanks full every day, and issues of rations to refugees were largely cut down and the number fed at the company mess much reduced.

17. Conditions remained the same until Thursday, May 2, when the Department of California moved headquarters to the Presidio, and the Pacific Division followed them on the 3d. At this same time a permanent relief station was established within a block of the post, all relief supplies were turned over, and all issues here ceased.

18. Since that date the command here has been engaged in making repairs around the post, going over property, and otherwise endeavoring to straighten out conditions. All storerooms had to be thrown open for occupancy by sick and injured people, nurses, and physicians, and endeavor is being made to recover property and cut down losses to a minimum.

19. On April 22 Captain Kelly and Lieutenant Emerson were by me put on duty with the division engineer, with a view of rehabilitating the city water supply. Afterwards the military authorities not having gotten charge of the water supply, these officers were assigned the construction of a permanent camp for refugees on Lobos Square, Captain Kelly being in charge. This work was brilliantly carried out, and the camp, which accommodates about 3,000 people, is practically completed, all tents being floored, and cook and mess houses constructed and ranges installed. Owing to the confusion, the difficulty of getting any material was very great, and too much credit can not be given for the manner in which material was rustled and this work done.

20. On May 6, 1906, I was ordered to turn out a detachment to demolish ruined buildings which were threatening transportation lines which it was desirable to open at once. Lieutenant Emerson and twelve enlisted men were detailed for this work. Upon arrival down town, Captain Harts, Engineer Corps, joined the party, he

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