The Disgraced Asst. Surg. William T. Babb of the 2nd Delaware

by Brett Schulte on September 2, 2011 · 0 comments

Editor’s Note: 2nd Delaware researcher and reenactor Sean Protas has generously agreed to do a series of guest posts focusing on the colorfully nicknamed ‘Crazy Delawares’.  Look for Sean’s posts to appear periodically here at TOCWOC – A Civil War Blog.  For more information on the modern day 2nd Delaware Volunteer Infantry reenactment group, check out their web page:

The Disgraced Asst. Surg. William T. Babb

by Sean Protas

Dr. William T. Babb mustered in as the Assistant Surgeon of the 2nd Delaware on August 31st, 1861 while the regiment was stationed at Camp Brandywine in Wilmington, DE. The doctor was the first Asst Surgeon to be assigned to the Regiment by Gov. Burton and accepted by the U.S. Army for active service. His career began  as he accompanied the regiment when it left Camp Brandywine for the Eastern Shore of Maryland on September 17th, 1861. The 2nd Delaware then proceeded to Camp Wharton at Cambridge, MD, where they joined the rest of Gen. Henry H. Lockwood’s brigade.

The regiment was stationed at Camp Wharton from September 1861 to October 31st, 1861. During this time, Dr. Babb served as the medical officer on an expedition in October 1861 that made its way through the Eastern Shore of MD and into Sussex County, Delaware; disarming militias that were believed to be “Secessionist.” These included Capt. Morton’s Seaford Cavalry, Capt. C. B. Paynter’s Georgetown Militia, and a Secessionist company that was led by a man named Whiteley Meredith in Salisbury, MD. [1]

In November 1861, Asst. Surgeon Babb and the 2nd Delaware took part in the invasion of Accomac and Northampton counties on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The 2nd Delaware Volunteers were stationed in occupation duty in the town of Drummondtown (present day Accomac), the regiment established a camp on the grounds of an estate known as “Rural Felicity” and named it Camp Wilkes. Dr. Babb was placed in charge of the Regimental hospital located at the camp. He remained in charge of the hospital without incident until March of 1862.

Dr. Babb’s clean record of service with the 2nd Delaware ended on March 2nd, 1862 during Morning sick call. A report of the incident from Col. Henry W. Wharton is included in Dr. Babb’s wartime record. Col. Wharton described the incident as follows:

“In this that Asst. Surg. Babb, 2d Regt. Del. Vols. was so drunk at sick call as to be incapable of performing any duty, and did maltreat the sick men in hospital by using profane and abusive language to them and he the aforesaid Wm. Babb, while in an intoxicated condition did stagger about the avenue in front of the quarters, and in the presence of the soldiers did fall down on the ground, and remain there until picked up by the men, and supported by them to the quarters of the chaplain of the Regiment.  This at Camp Wilkes near Drummondtown, VA on or about the 2d day of March 1862.” [2]

The Regiment was then moved to Ft. Marshall in Baltimore, MD at the end of March 1862. After they arrived in Baltimore, Dr. Babb issued a letter of resignation to Col. Wharton, date April 4th, 1862. The letter read as follows:

“I hereby tender my resignation of Asst. Surgeon 2d Regt. Del. Vols. and hope the same may be accepted as early as practicable.”

The letter of resignation was accepted the same day by Col. Wharton and forwarded to Asst. Adj. General D. L. Van Buren, who accepted it on behalf of Maj. Gen. Dix. The resignation was made official with the issuance of Special Order 93 on April 5th, 1862 by Asst. Adj. Gen. Van Buren. [3]

The position of Asst. Surgeon was filled with the commissioning of Dr. Phillip M. Plunkett on April 13th, 1862.


[1] Delaware Statesman and Journal, October 29, 1861

[2] Dr. William T. Babb Carded Military Service Record National Archives RG 94 Entry 519A

[3] Dr. William T. Babb Carded Military Service Record National Archives RG 94 Entry 519A



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