Thomas M. Woodward to Cary T. Grayson


Thomas M. Woodward to Cary T. Grayson


Woodward, Thomas M.




1918 April 2


Thomas Woodward writes to Cary Grayson about a Marine second lieutenant who was injured on a train platform. He is concerned for his medical care and insulted by how he was treated when trying to give aid.


Cary T. Grayson Papers, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, Staunton, Virginia




My dear Admiral Grayson

Last Sunday night with my wife I was on a Pennsylvania train coming from Philadelphia to Washington. As the train stopped at Wilmington an enlisted marine got his foot crushed while on the platform. A Second Lieutenant in the Army assumed charge of the situation and under his direction the injured man continued on the train, in spite of the protests of the Conductor, the station-master at Wilmington, and myself that he be immediately sent to the hospital in Wilmington. The injured man appeared to be in pain, and fainted. No particular examination was made as to the extent of his injuries until some time after the train left Wilmington and the next stop was Baltimore, where the Second Lieutenant got off. Subsequent to leaving Wilmington a Navy Surgeon, Dr. CD Sinkinson, USNRF, Columbia Hospital, was found on the train. He examined the man and when the train reached Washington had him taken to the Columbia Hospital.

The Second Lieutenant behaved in an insulting manner toward me when I ventured to protest not sending the man to a hospital in Washington. To me and some other passengers the action on the part of the officer who assumed control of the situation appeared to be gross negligence and disregard for the welfare of the injured marine. The Lieutenant’s bearing toward me as a civilian who ventured to protest was worthy of the traditions of the Prussian Army. It seemed to me that both the Navy and War Departments should be apprised of the incident so that they might investigate if they saw fit. However, I am submitting that matter to you to do with it as you think best.

I could not get the Lieutenant’s name as he refused my card, but his insignia showed him to be a Second Lieutenant US Infantry 311. The Conductor’s name was WH Hopkins and the train Pennsylvania RR No. 129. First Lieutenant TD Cope (S, S & R) stationed at Washington also witnessed the incident.


Enclosure: A more detailed statement.

On Sunday night, , I was with my wife on Pennsylvania Railroad train No. 129, Conductor WH Hopkins, which was scheduled to leave West Philadelphia at 7.39 p.M. and to arrive in Washington at p.M. The train was crowded, largely with soldiers and marines, and many were standing in the aisles. My wife was seated on the fifth seat from the front of the car, next to the aisle, on the right hand side of the train and I was standing in the aisle by her side. Some soldiers or marines were standing on the front platform of the car.

As the train stopped at Wilmington, I heard a long cry of anguish from the front platform of our car, a prolonged Oh—. The train came immediately to a standstill. There was confusion, and remarks to the effect that a man’s foot was caught in the coupler. I attempted to conceal the commotion from my wife, as she apparently had not heard the cry, by standing in front of her and talking. In a minute it appeared from the comment of passengers and from the gathering of a small crowd on the Wilmington platform at the entrance of the car, which I observed through the window, that there was difficulty in extricating the man. In a few more minutes I saw through the car window a man in uniform on the platform supported by other men. To my surprise, the injured was then assisted into our car and seated on the extreme front seat on the left hand side of the car, facing the passengers. From the expression on his face he appeared in pain, though he attempted to smile and talk. He subsequently fainted. I walked toward the front of the car. A Second Lieutenant, who as his insignia showed belonged to the US 311th Infantry, appeard to assume charge of the situation, though the injured man was a marine. When I saw that there was no evident intention of again taking the man off the train and sending him to a hospital in Wilmington—the train was standing at the station in Wilmington all the while—I protested to the Second Lieutenant that the man should be sent at once to a hospital in Wilmington. He acted in a surly manner and said: “You’d make a pretty soldier”. In an aside he commented on a civilian “butting in”. An Army officer in Captain’s uniform then rose from the first or second seat on the right hand side of the car and said: “The Lieutenant is absolutely right.”

The Lieutenant over my protest directed or appeared to direct, or at least acquiesced, in the marine’s decision in an authoritative manner, that the injured man remain on the train. I then took a seat just made vacant, on the left hand side of the car next to the aisle, diagonally across from my wife. As the Lieutenant came down the aisle I addressed him again protesting against not sending the man to the hospital, and tendering him my card and seeking his name. He pushed aside my card and said to my amazement: “Sit down before I knock you down”, and started to push by me to go again to the front of the car, touching me as he went. I remarked: “Don’t touch me Sir, that is an assault.”

The man’s shoe was not removed or his foot examined carefully to ascertain the extent of the injury until the train had left Wilmington and the next scheduled stop was Baltimore. After the train started someone—I think it was the Conductor,—produced first aid materials. The man’s shoe was then removed and these dressings applied. A woman tried to make the hurt man comfortable.

I remarked to the Lieutenant that if necessary I should carry the incident to the Secretary of War. He took a seat immediately behind me, and subsequently got off at Baltimore.

The conductor came through the train and asked who had seen the accident. I gave him my name and told him what I had seen and heard. He also gave me his name, W. H. Hopkins, and train number. He told me that both he and the station-master at Wilmington had pleaded with the injured man to go to the hospital while he stood on the platform at Wilmington, but that he had refused.

Before we reached Baltimore I overheard the Lieutenant remark that Dr. Grayson’s Secretary was at the front of the car near the man. I went and spoke to the man indicated, as I have some acquaintance with Dr. Grayson. He told me he was in the Surgeon General’s Office. There was a man in Naval uniform standing by him, apparently a doctor, who said he had examined the injured foot and that no bones seemed to be broken but that the great toe was crushed. This examination was made after leaving Baltimore, as the naval doctor did not appear on the scene until after the train started.

The train arrived at Washington about 12.30 p.M., so late that the soldiers on board from their remarks were convinced that they had missed their train leaving Washington for their Camp, and that they would be penalized on return to Camp. As the passengers were passing down the aisle, I heard someone ask the injured marine, who was still sitting with foot extended, how he felt. He replied: “It is a pretty bad smash.” As I got off the train I spoke to the young navy doctor and he assured me that he would take care of the injured man.

Names of witnesses:
Dr. CD Sinkinson, USNRF,
Columbia Hospital, Washington, DC
First Lieut. TD Cope
, S, S, & R.
Washington, DC

Very truly yours,

Thomas M. Woodward
Examiner to Commissioner Daniels, Inter State Commerce Commission
Washington DC.

Original Format



Grayson, Cary T. (Cary Travers), 1878-1938




Woodward, Thomas M., “Thomas M. Woodward to Cary T. Grayson,” 1918 April 2, WWP22312, Cary T. Grayson Papers, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.