, and have been here since the first of June, 1863.
Question. State what you know in regard to the condition of our exchanged or paroled prisoners who have been brought here, and also your opportunities to know that condition?
Answer. Since I have been here I think that from five to six thousand paroled prisoners have been treated in this hospital as patients.
They have generally come here in a very destitute and feeble condition; many of them so low that they die the very day they arrive here.
Question. What is the character of their complaints generally, and what does that character indicate as to the cause?
Answer. Generally they are suffering from debility and chronic diarrhoea, the result, I have no doubt, of exposure, privations, hardship, and ill-treatment.
Question. In what respect would hardship and ill-treatment superinduce the complaints most prevalent among these paroled prisoners?
Answer. These men, having been very much exposed, and not having had nourishment enough to sustain their strength, are consequently predisposed to be attacked by such diseases as diarrhoea, fever, scurvy, and all catarrhal affections, which, perhaps, in the beginning are very slight, but, on account of want of necessary care, produce, after a while, a very serious disease.
For instance, a man exposed to the cold may have a little bronchitis, or perhaps a little inflammation of the lungs, which, under good treatment, would be easily cured — would be considered of no importance whatever; but being continually exposed, and not having the necessary food, the complaint is transformed, after a time, into a very severe disease.
Question. Is it your opinion, as a physician, that the complaints of our returned prisoners are superinduced by want of proper food, or food of sufficient quantity, and from exposure?
Answer. Yes, sir.
Question. What is the general character of the statements our prisoners have made to you in regard to their treatment?
Answer. They complained of want of food, of bad food, and a want of clothing.
Very often, though not always, they are robbed, when taken prisoners, of all the good clothes they have on. There is no doubt about that, for men have often arrived here with nothing but their pants and shirts on; no coat, overcoat, no cap, no shoes or stockings, and some of them without having had any opportunities to wash themselves for weeks and months, so that when they arrive here, the scurf on their skin is one eighth of an inch thick; and we have had several cases of men who have been shot for the slightest offence.
There is a man now here who at one time put his hand out of the privy, which was nothing but a window in the wall, to steady himself and keep himself from falling, and he was shot, and we have been obliged to amputate his arm since he arrived here.
These men complain that they have had no shelter.
We have men here now who say that for five or six months they have been compelled to lie on the sand.
I have no doubt about the correctness of their statements, for the condition of their skins shows the statements to be true.
Their joints are calloused, and they have callouses on their backs, and some have even had the bones break through the skin.
There is one instance in particular that I would mention.
One man died in the hospital there one hour before the transfer of prisoners was made, and, as an act of humanity, the surgeon in charge of the hospital allowed the friends of this man to take him on board the vessel in order to have him buried among his friends.
This man was brought here right from the Richmond hospital
He was so much covered with vermin and so dirty that we were not afraid to make the statement that the man had not been washed for six months. Now, as a material circumstance to prove that these men have been badly fed, I will state that we must be very careful in feeding them when they arrive here, for a very light diet is too much for them at first.
Question. You have accompanied us as we have examined some of the patients in the hospital to-day.
Do their statements to us, under oath, correspond with the statements which they made when they first arrived here?
Answer. They are quite they same; there is no difference.
Every man makes the same statement, and we therefore believe it to be true.
All say the same in regard to rations, treatment, exposure, and privations.
Once in a while I have found a man who pretended to have been treated very well, but by examining closely I find that such men are not very good Union men.
Question. You say that about six thousand paroled prisoners have come under your supervision and treatment?
Answer. Yes, sir.
Question State generally what their condition has been.
Answer. Very bad, indeed.
I cannot find terms sufficient to express what their condition was. I cannot state it properly.
Question. You have already stated that, as a general thing, they have been destitute of clothing?
Answer. Yes, sir; dirty, filthy, covered with vermin, dying.
At one time we received three hundred and sixty patients in one day, and fourteen died within twelve hours; and there were six bodies of those who had died on board the transport that brought them up here.
Question. What appeared to be the complaint of which they died?
Answer. Very extreme debility, the result of starvation and exposure — the same as the very weak man you saw here, [L. H. Parham
Question. We have observed some very emaciated men here, perfect skeletons, nothing but skin and bone.
In your opinion, as a physician, what has reduced these men to that condition?
Answer. Nothing but starvation and exposure.