Question. Have you made many post-mortem examinations here?
Answer. We have made quite a number of them.
We make them whenever we have an opportunity; whenever bodies are not called for or are not likely to be taken away.
Question. Are you enabled, from these postmortem examinations, to determine whether or not these prisoners have had sufficient quantities of proper food?
Answer. Not from that.
Those examinations merely indicate the condition in which the prisoners are returned to us.
Question. From all the indications given by the appearance of these men, are you satisfied that their statements, that they have not had sufficient food, both in quantity and quality, are true?
Answer. These statements have been repeated to me very often, and from their condition I believe their statement to be true.
Question. How many paroled prisoners were brought here by the last boat?
Answer. Three hundred and sixty-five, I think.
Question. In your opinion, how many of these men will recover?
Answer. Judging from their present condition, I think that at least one hundred of them will die.
Question. What, in your opinion, will be the primary cause of the death of these men?
Answer. Exposure and want of proper food while prisoners.
Question. What is your position in the service?
Answer. Assistant Surgeon
of the United States volunteers and executive officer of hospital Division Number One
, or Naval Academy hospital.
Question. Please state the sanitary condition and appearance, etc., of the paroled prisoners received here, together with their declarations as to the cause of their sickness, and your opinion as to the truth of their statements?
Answer. I have been on duty in this hospital since October third, 1863.
Since that time I have been present on the arrival of the steamer New-York
on five or six different occasions, when bringing altogether some three or four thousand paroled prisoners.
I have assisted in unloading these prisoners from the boat, and assigning them to quarters in the hospital.
I have found them generally very much reduced physically, and depressed mentally, the direct result, as I think, of the ill-treatment which they have received from the hands of their enemies — whether intentional or not I cannot say. I have frequently seen on the boat bodies of those who have died while being brought here, and I have frequently known them to die while being conveyed from the boat to the hospital ward.
Their condition is such (their whole constitution being undermined) that the best of care and medical treatment, and all the sanitary and hygeian measures that we can introduce appear to be useless.
Their whole assimilative functions appear to be impaired.
Medicines and food appear, in many cases, to have no effect upon them.
We have made post-mortem examinations repeatedly of cases here, and on all occasions we find the system very much reduced, and in many cases the muscles almost entirely gone — reduced to nothing literally but skin and bone; the blood vitiated and depraved, and an anoemic condition of the entire system apparent.
The fact that in many cases of post-mortems we had discovered no organic disease, justifies us in the conclusion that the fatal result is owing principally, if not entirely, to a deprivation of food and other articles necessary to support life, and to improper exposure.
On all occasions when arriving here, these men have been found in the most filthy condition, it being almost impossible, in many cases, to clean them by repeated washings.
The functions of the skin are entirely impaired, and in many cases they are incrusted with dirt, owing, as they say, to being compelled to lie on the sand at Belle Island
; and the normal function of the skin has not been recovered until the cuticle has been entirely thrown off. Their bodies are covered with vermin, so that it has been found necessary to throw away all the clothing which they had on when they arrived here, and provide them entirely with new clothing.
Their hair has been filled with vermin, so that we have been obliged to cut their hair all off, and make applications to kill the vermin in their heads.
Many of them state that they have had no opportunity to wash their bodies for six or eight months, and have not done so.
Question. What have been their statements to you in their conversation with you?
Answer. Their reply almost invariably has been, that their condition is the result solely of ill-treatment and starvation; that their rations have consisted of corn-bread and cobs ground with corn, of a few beans at times, and now and then a little piece of poor meat.
Occasionally one is heard to say, that in his opinion the rebels are unable to treat them in any better manner; that they have been treated as well as possible; and I have found several who stated that their physicians were kind to them and did all they could, but complained of want of medicines.
Question. Is it your conclusion, as a physician, that the statements of these paroled prisoners, in regard to the treatment they have received, are correct, and that such treatment would produce such conditions of health as you witness among them upon their arrival here?
Answer. Yes, sir; and that in many cases their statements fall short of the truth, as evinced by the results shown in their physical appearance; and these men are in such a condition that even if they recover, we consider them almost entirely unfitted for further active field service — almost as much so, we frequently say, as if they had been shot on the field.