many of them having, in connection with that, bronchial and similar affections. From the testimony given to me by these men I have no doubt their condition was the result of exposure and — I was about to say starvation; but it was, perhaps, hardly starvation, for they had something to eat; but I will say, a deficient supply of food and of a proper kind of food; and when I say “exposure,” perhaps that would not be sufficiently definite. All with whom I have conversed have stated that those who were on Belle Isle were kept there even as late as December with nothing to protect them but such little clothing as was left them by their captors; with no blankets, no overcoats, no tents, nothing to cover them, nothing to protect them; and that their sleeping-place was the ground — the sand. Question. What would you, as a physician of experience, aside from the statements of these returned prisoners, say was the cause of their condition? Answer. I should judge it was as they have stated. Diarrhea is a very common form of disease among them, and from all the circumstances, I have every reason to believe that it is owing to exposure and the want of proper nourishment. Some of them tell me that they received nothing but two small pieces of corn-bread a day. Some of them suppose (how true that may be I do not know) that that bread was made of corn ground with the cobs. I have not seen any of it to examine it. Question. How many have died of the number you have received here? Answer. Already twenty-nine have died, and you have seen one who is now dying; and five were received here dead, who died on their way from Fortress Monroe to Baltimore. Question. How many of them were capable of walking into the hospital? Answer. Only one; the others were brought here from the boat on stretchers, put on the dumb-waiter, and lifted right up to their rooms, and put on their beds. And I would state another thing in regard to these men; when they were received here they were filthy, dirty, and lousy in the extreme, and we had considerable trouble to get them clean. Every man who could possibly stand it we took and placed in a warm bath and held him up while he was washed, and we threw away all their dirty clothing, providing them with that which was clean. Question. What was the condition of their clothing? Answer. Very poor, indeed. I should say the clothing was very much worn, although I did not examine it closely, as that was not so much a matter of investigation with us as was their physical condition. Their heads were filled with vermin, so much so that we had to cut off their hair and make applications to destroy the vermin. Question. What portion of those you have received here do you suppose are finally curable? Answer. We shall certainly lose one third of them; and we have been inclined to think that, sooner or later, we should lose one half of them. Question. Will the constitutions of those who survive be permanently injured, or will they entirely recover? Answer. I think the constitutions of the greater part of them will be seriously impaired; that they will never become strong and healthy again. Question. What account have these men given you as to the comparative condition of those left behind? Did the rebels send the best or the poorest of our prisoners? Answer. I could not tell that; I have never inquired. But I should presume they must have sent the worst they had. Question. You have had charge of confederate sick and wounded, have you not? Answer. Yes, sir; a large number of them. This was the receiving hospital for those from Gettysburgh. Question. What was the treatment they received from us? Answer. We consider that we treated them with the greatest kindness and humanity; precisely as we treated our own men. That has been our rule of conduct. We gave them the very best the hospital would afford; and not only what properly belonged to the hospital, but delicacies and luxuries of every kind were furnished them by the hospital, and by outside sympathizers, who were permitted to send delicacies to them. Question. It has been stated in many of the rebel newspapers that our prisoners are treated the same and fed with the same rations as their soldiers in the field. In your judgment as a physician, would it be possible for their soldiers to retain their health and energy if fed as our prisoners have been? Answer. No, sir; it would be impossible; multitudes of them would have died under such treatment. Question. I do not know as I desire to question you further. Is there any thing more you desire to state? Answer. I do not know that there is; it is all in a nut-shell. By Mr. Odell: Question. Is not the disease as evinced among those men clearly defined as resulting from exposure and privations, and want of proper food and nourishment? Answer. That is our decided opinion as medical men; the opinion of all of us who have had any thing to do with these men. By Mr. Gooch: Question. The condition of all these men appears to be about the same. Is there really any difference in their condition except in degree? Answer. I think that is all. Some men have naturally stronger constitutions than others, and can bear more than others. That is the way I account for the difference. By Mr. Odell: Question. Are the minds of any of them affected permanently? Answer. We have had two or three whose intellect
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Doc . 3 .-attack on the defences of Mobile .
Surrender of Fort Powell .
Battle of Olustee .
Battle of Pleasant Hill .
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.