Health of the camps, &c.
--We had the pleasure yesterday of a long conversation with one of the most eminent physicians in the Southern
country, who has devoted his whole time, of late, to visiting and inspecting the several camps of the Confederate army, with a view to ascertaining, as far as possible, the causes of the ill health which has been prevalent among the soldiers.
As far as we could ascertain, it seemed to be his opinion that there was no special cause arising out of the actual condition of the camps.
They were generally kept as neat and clear of offensive matter as it was possible to keep them.
We came to the conclusion, therefore, that the evilly deeper than this, and we were induced to write this article mainly by hints derived from him. As he will see it in print, we shall cheerfully make the necessary correction wherever we shall have misconceived his views.
We ventured to suggest sometime ago, that the seed of such disease was sewn in the close tents commonly used by the troops, and we were pleased to find the suggestion confirmed by the opinion of the gentleman in question.
A closed tent, of all other contrivances in the world seems to us best adapted to secure any given amount of disease.--Six or eight, or sometimes a dozen men usually sleep in one of them, and their united breath is the atmosphere, which is not kept in a wholesome state by the introduction of fresh air. In addition to all this, whenever it rains — and the fall of rain has been unusually large this year — the interior of the tent necessarily becomes damp — The soldiers, therefore, have the double disadvantage of sleeping in an atmosphere surcharged with mephitic air and loaded with noxious vapor.
To remedy this, it appears to us that means might easily be adopted of introducing fresh air. A number of tents might be joined together having the communicating sides open and this leaving a free passage for the air. An extra tent, with nobody in it, might be pitched at one end to serve as a porch, the other end and the end communicating with the next tent being left open.
Thus the rain would be kept off by the porch, and the extreme and on the opposite side might be eased.
This is but a rough suggestion.
Persons of more ingenuity and more experience than we can boast of, could easily find some simpler and more effective method of ventilating the tents; and, we venture to suggest, it is all important that it should be found out and applied.
What can be more injurious to the lung than inhalation throughout a long night of an atmosphere which has been breathed by a dozen other persons, some of them probably already beginning to feel the effects of disease?
For our own part, however, we are for adopting the system of bivouacking.
We suggested it sometime since but it met with no favor from the public.
We were pleased to find that the distinguished gentleman mentioned above was very far from considering the idea ridiculous.
How could is be?
It was the suggestion of a man who had and more experience on that particular subject than any other that ever lived.
Of a man whose whole life had been spent in camps.
Of a man whose mind was the most acute, perhaps, that even existed Of a man, the whole force of whose mighty intellect had been directed for nineteen years to the perfection of the soldier as a military machine.
Of a man who saw everything with his own eyes.
and suffered nothing to pass unanswered.
In late, of Napoleon
He has best on record the opinion that tents are a great obstruction to military operations in more ways than one, but especially in that they generate disease, and render a whole army sickly It is well known that he himself dispersed with them in all his campaigns, and substituted the bivouac.
It is well known, too, that, considering the number of his armies, the ambiguous labors in which they were engaged, the long hes they were accustomed to make and the severe privations they were often called on to endure-no troops of modern trades were ever so healthy.
The soldiers on the march kindled large fires and slept around them.
These lives were sufficient to purify the atmosphere, which became rarified, and carried on all the noxious vapors that were hovering in the air ready to stagnate into pestilence.
Before Mantna, in a most unhealthy situation, the French
besieging army was kept in good health by the simple expedient of kindling large fires every night.
In a country so full of wood as ours, it seems to us that means would never be wanting to build a temporary shelter from the rain.
The hunters of the great West
carry no tents with them.
use no tents.
They both kindle fires, roll themselves up in their blankets, and go to sleep by them.
They are the hardiest and healthiest of the human race.
They are capable of enduring all sorts of fatigue and every species of privation.
There are few people who have not had occasion to notice the hateful influence which the first passage of a canal or railroad has upon a neighborhood.
As soon as the autumn sets in everybody is prostrated with chills and fevers, or typhoid fever.
The exciting cause is beyond question, the vast quantity of fresh earth that is turned up. This is sure to produce sickness wherever it is practiced.
How much of the sickness at Manassas
and other camps has been occasioned by the enormous quantity of earth that has been dug up we are not prepared to say. This, however, we will say. that the diabases of those camps very closely resemble those of the districts through which a canal is being cut. The bare suspicion of such a fact ought, we should think, to weigh very heavily in the scale against an in active campaign, where numbers, courage, and accede discipline are evidently on our side.--The most desperate assank upon Arlington Heiglus
would not occasion a greater loss of life than the dull, inactive, spirit-breaking monotony of a camp, where the soldiers do nothing, and do not expect to be called on to do anything out of the ordinary routine of camp.
It is this inaction which has filled the hospitals.
And it will continue to fill them as long as it exists.
Let but our Generals
give the word to advance, and it will operate as a general hospital delivery.
The men are depressed, and are therefore more than ordinary accessible to disease.
Set them in motion, and disease will disappear.
In an active campaign, the soldiers, as a general thing, are never sickly.
They have no time to be sick.
They have no leisure to think about themselves, and for a man to begin to think about himself is the first step to a spell of sickness.
They think only of fighting the enemy.
Let us hope that we shall soon have a campaign of this sort.
Let our generals stop acting on the defensive, and carry the war into Africa
That will clear the hospitals sooner than all the medicines that were ever sold at all the shops of all the apothecaries in Christendom.