Lodging, food, and Dress of soldiers. there have been works enough published on this subject in England
to enlighten and direct those whose department embraces the sanitary condition of the army, the organization of military hospitals, and the treatment of the sick and wounded.
Some instructive facts mentioned in a publication on this subject is not without interest.
Judged by their appearance, her Majesty's Foot Guards ought to be the healthiest men in Great Britain
They are said to be recruited at the age of nineteen, from the agricultural population, and submitted to the most thorough examination by the inspecting surgeon before they can wear the uniform.
They are quartered in the immediate neighborhood of the palace, well clothed, fed, housed, and tended in sickness, and only in the face of Great emergencies required to go on foreign service.
Yet the per centage of death in their ranks is greater than that of the unhealthiest trades in England
, and even of other soldiers in the British
army, who take their turn in all climates.
This is shown by our author in the following table, which gives the number per thousand who die every year among the army in Great Britain
and among the male civilians of England
at army ages:
|Dragoon Guards and Dragoons||13.3|
|Infantry of the line||18.7|
population of England
, at army ages:
|town and country population||9.2|
one of the unhealthiest towns at army ages:
According to a reliable calculation, the mortality of the Household Cavalry
is 1 4-5, Dragoons, &c., 2 1-5, Line, 2 9-10, and Guards, 3 1-13 times as great as the mortality of the agricultural laborers who are members of friendly societies.
Well may the Commissioners
, contemplating these returns, remark:
"That in war men should die from exposure, from fatigue, from insufficient supplies, is intelligible; or that the occupation of a town of 30,000 inhabitants by an army of 30,000 men, without any sanitary precaution, suddenly doubling the population of the area, and thereby halving the proportion of every accommodation, supplies, water, drainage, sewerage, &c., &c., should engender disease, is readily understood; but the problem submitted to us is to find the causes of a mortality more than double that of civil life among 60,000 men, scattered, in numbers seldom exceeding a thousand in one place, among a population of 28,000,000, in time of profound peace, in a country which is not only the healthiest, but which possesses the greatest facility of communication and the greatest abundance of supply in Europe
It will be observed that the foot soldiers, though recruited from the same source and breathing the same atmosphere, suffer a rate of mortality much higher than the cavalry.--The causes of the difference are attributed by the writer — to whom we are indebted for these facts — to over-crowding and the want of due exercise and employment.
The principal diseases in the English
army are fever and consumption; the latter being the prevalent malady among the Foot Guards, and attributed by some to the atmosphere of pipe clay in which they live.
But as the Horse Guards
live in the same atmosphere, this cannot be the only reason.
Over-crowding is the chief cause of the disparity of the death rate between the two classes of the guards.
The Horse Guards have far more spacious and airy barracks, and, besides, their exercise is more varied than that of the foot.
It is not believed by the British
authorities that the high rate of mortality among the Foot Guards was owing to the destructive nature of the night duties.
On the contrary, the firemen and the police of London
, and the sailors, whose night duties are more severe than those of the Foot Guards, enjoy a high state of health.
The close and impure air, and the over-crowded barracks, are the real cause of the mortality.
The same fountain of sickness, the close and crowded tents, pitched in open fields, with a blazing sun, and with no adequate means of ventilation, have prostrated more men in our own army than will ever fall by the bullets and bayonets of the enemy.
The important elements of exercise and food have also great influence upon the sanitary condition of the army.
Says Col. Lindsay
, high British authority upon this subject:
"Perhaps no living individual suffers more than the soldier from ennui.
He has no employment save the drill and its duties; these are of a most monotonous and uninteresting description, so much so that you cannot increase their amount without wearying and disgusting him. All he has to do is under restraint: he is not like a working man or an artisan.
A working man will dig, and his mind is his own; an artisan is interested in the work on which he is engaged; but a soldier has to give you all his attention, and he has nothing to show for the work done.
He gets up at six; there is no drill before breakfast; he makes up his bed and cleans up his things; he gets his breakfast at seven; he turns out for drill at half- past 7 or eight; his drill may last half an hour.
If it be guardedly, there is no drill except for defaulters.--The men for duty are paraded at ten o'clock; that finishes his day-drill altogether.
There is evening parade, which takes half an hour, and then his time is his own until tattoo, which is at nine in winter and ten in summer.
That is the day of a soldier not on guard or not belonging to a company which is out for Minnie practice."
, it is said, a large proportion of the men chafe and drink themselves to death, under modes of life so opposed to the habits in which they had been reared.
The fault is attributed to the rule of the English
service which precludes the soldier from making himself useful, the best conducted troops being the engineers, who work at their different trades.
But with this exception, it is said the English
troops can neither cook, bake, make their clothes, nor their huts, like the French
, the Sardinians, and the Turks.
Contractors follow them everywhere, and render them the most dependent soldiers in Europe
Dr. J. R. Martin
, an eminent military surgeon in India
, who is said to have done more for the sanitary condition of the soldier than any living person, holds it as a principle ‘"that in all climates the soldier should do for himself whatever he can perform without injury to his health, morals, or discipline; and further, that he should be required to do whatever may be essential to his serviceable condition in the event of a failure of the appointed appliances.
Before the soldier can be held as fit to undertake his duties to the State
, he must be made capable of uminfaining everything which may be necessary to his personal care and comfort."’ Commenting on this admirable council, another British author calls attention to the famous English camps of Aldershon and Shornoliffe, and asks if they fulfill the majority of the conditions calculated to train the soldier for active service?
‘"Are the men there taught to build their own hate, to dig their own wells, to make their own is cook their own victuals, or to mend their own clothes?"’ He then urges the superior economy and advantages of permitting the men to erect their own barracks, in terms that would almost seem to have been written for our own situation.
‘"There are clay, gravel, and sand on the spot, with abundance of small wood that no one will buy not more than eight miles distant. Soldiers have hutted themselves at Maroon Town, in the West Indies
, at 257, per head.
The buildings would not be such permanent structures as the contractors have put together; we should miss the architectural facades for the officers' quarters, and the 'moulded cornices' described so maliciously by the Times's
correspondent; but we should have serviceable huts, which would last for eight or ten years. There can be but little doubt that the men would be healthier in them than in vast barracks.
The process of outlying would supply the kind of exercise which would amuse as well as instruct, and the plan would certainly save money to the State
Considerably more than one-half, or 347.9 per thousand of our soldiers have been recruited from the agricultural population, to whom the erection of earthworks and buildings of all kinds would be somewhat familiar.
Serious exertions, with a useful result, is always more invigorating in the long run than exertion which leaves no result at all. Work, in short, within reasonable limits, is more healthful than play."’
It is still remembered by many citizens of Richmond
that during the late war with England
the army was stationed eight or ten miles from this city, and built their own log cabins, a more comfortable building, and of course more economically constructed than those now built for the soldiers.
In regard to food, we find some interesting remarks which are, and ought to be, familiar to those who are entrusted with the management of this important department.
The absurdity of replenishing a soldier, not according to his natural desires, but according to a certain fixed regulation, is handsomely exposed.
‘"As well may a stoker limit his engine to an hundred weight of coals a day, and expect to get any speed out of it he pleased." ’ The soldier requires more meat during labor than in idleness, in winter than in summer, in a cold climate than a hot. Salt meat is vastly less nutritious than fresh, and, in the failure of lemon juice, scurvy and its allied diseases are sure to follow its use. Not only should there be good food, but means of properly preparing it. Until Gen. Peel
came into the British
war office, when cooking-ranges and other appliances were by his direction introduced into several of the barracks, there was but one mode of preparing food recognized or provided for. There were coppers for boiling, but no meat could be baked, roasted, broiled, or stewed.
Says Mr. Brown
, the Surgeon Major
of the Guards:
"It is beef and buoilli one day, and bouilli and beef the next, for twenty-one years, The result is, that the soldier does not consume even the small amount of animal food that is apportioned to him. 'I have gone into the barracks at nine or ten o'clock at night, and I have seen half a dozen basins of soup not touche the men would not eat it,' says the same authority.
So much for the bouilli; and as for the beef, Gen. Sir R. Airey
says, 'the men are perfectly sickened of it. I have seen the meat, after it has been boiled down to shreds, thrown away; the men would not look at it.' One error is the parent of another; as the men cannot eat the same unvarying mess forever, they send their meat to the baker's and defray the expense out of their vegetable-money.
This diminution of their vegetable diet tends to produce diseases of a scorbutic character.
The Commissioners only speak with the universal voice when they recommend that the soldiers shall have the means of roasting, stewing, baking, and frying, as well as of boiling.
, who has the medical charge of the boys in the Royal
Military Asylum at Chelsea
, has already put the plan to the test.
Formerly the boys, like the soldiers, were fed perpetually on boiled meat; but of late years they have been treated like the rest of the community, and the result has been that the mortality has fallen from 927 per thousand to 4.9 per thousand.
The greater part of this improvement is attributed by Dr. Balfour
to the greater variety in the food and the mode of dressing it. The system effected a saving of £300 a year, the boys eating the whole of their victuals with a relish.
I was able to get them into good condition by distributing the same amount of meat over seven days that they had previously had in four."
, who, in every department of military knowledge, excel all other nations have in every barrack conveniences for various methods of preparing food.
‘"The men,"’ says Sir R. Airey
, ‘"are using their stewpans all day long; they make stews, and improve and diversity their diet very much."’
With reference to clothing, the English
military authorities are relaxing their ancient stiffness, and the tight coat, the stiff stock, and the ugly shako have given way to a system which regards the soldier's comfort, and learns him to use his limbs with facility, so that he can march without fainting and fight at his case.
‘"The chief parts of the soldier's body which require attention, as regards health, are the head and neck.
The head should be protected against the extremes of heat and cold by every means that science can devise." ’ The shako, shielding from the sun with a linen cover, is deemed insufficient.
As to clothing, light gray woolen blouse is considered the most suitable garment at present in use in India
, and the advantage to health of wearing flannel is sustained by an irresistible array of facts.
Vast improvement, however, has taken place in the health of British troops of late years.
At one time, the mortality in Jamaica
reached the enormous amount of 128 per thousand.
This was attributed to the marshy location of the military posts and to the rations of salt pork and rum, but with a removal of the cause, it was reduced to thirty-two per thousand.
, the mortality has decreased from 47 per thousand to 38 per thousand; at St. Helena from 24 to 12; at the Jamaica Islands
from 27 to 17; at Newfoundland
37 to 11 per thousand.
The Indian Empire is the only exception, though even there, there has been in Bombay
a slight decrease, and in Madras
the deaths have fallen from 75 to 41 per thousand.
To those who have looked with deep despondency as well as grief upon the sufferings of our own soldiers by sickness during the past season, we commend the following splendid testimony to the value of sanitary science from Florence Nightingale
, as holding out the hope, that by the conscientious and intelligent use of the same means our Southern army may shake off altogether the fetters of disease:
‘"The barracks and the military hospitals,"’ says Miss Nightingale
, ‘ "exist at home and in the colonies as tests of our sanitary condition in peace; and the histories of the Peninsular War
, of Wacheren, and of the late Crimean expedition, exist as tests of our sanitary condition in the state of war. We have much more information on the sanitary history of the Crimean campaign than we have of any other.
It is a complete example — history does not afford its equal — of an army, after a great disaster arising from its neglects, having been brought into the highest state of health and efficiency.
It is the whole experiment of a colossal scale.
In all other examples the last step has been wanting to complete the solution of the problem.
We had in the first seven months of the Crimean campaign a mortality among the troops at the rate of 60 per cent. per annum from disease alone — a rate of mortality which exceeds that of the great plague in the population of London
, and a higher ratio than the mortality in cholera to the attacks; that is to say, that there died out of the army of the Crimes an annual rate greater than ordinarily die in time of pestilence out of sick.
We had during the last six months of the war a mortality among our sick
not much more than among our healthy
Guards at home, and a mortality among our troops in the last five months two-thirds only of what it is among our troops at home.
We observe that the British Medical Commissioners
propose a medical officer of health for the army, second in rank to the principal medical officer, and attached to the Quarter master General
in the field.
This officer to be at the head of the army military police, and severable for all the to be adopted for the prevention of disease, and report to the Quartermaster General
and the principal medical officer.
His order to be given in writing, and the disregard of it on strategical grounds equally recorded by the officer in command.--These suggestions are worthy the consideration of our own Government.