The Medical staff of the army.
--The following is the copy of a letter writer by an aid decamp of President Davis
to a prominent physician of Macon county
, and will explain itself:
Richmond, Sept. 1, 1862.
--I am directed by the President
to inform you that your letter of August 21, 1862, is received, and the suggestions in it considered.
Your strictures on the management of the medical staff of the army are perhaps severe, but not uncalled for. Many incompetent men have doubtless been appointed surgeons, but where is a competent surgeon or physician whose services have been rejected?
The trouble is partly owing to the insufficient supply of medical and surgical skill in the country for an army of the size of that in the field.
If, however, instead of a general censure, you would take the pains to single out and fix on any one or more surgeons the charges you make against them all, the public service would be subserved thereby.--If persons, who are aware of acts of negligence or brutality on the part of surgeons would trouble themselves to establish the fact by proof, the offender would receive the punishment due his crime or error, and become an example and a warning.
It is to be doubted whether our armies have suffered more than other armies in like situations.
In less than three months McClellan
has lost in front of Richmond
, principally by disease, soldiers variously estimated by the Yankees
at from 100,000 to 170,000 men. He has, by the most favorable accounts to him, lost two thirds of his army.
This has occurred, too with unlimited resources and supplies for the care and preservation of health and mastering disease.
I merely mention this to show you that disease which afflicts us does not space the enemy.
Your letter has been laid before the Surgeon-General
for his information.
I have thus answered your letter at length by instructions from the President
, and am directed by him to thank you for your interest in the health and welfare of our soldiers in the field.