War of the Rebellion: Serial 005 Page 0110 OPERATIONS IN MD., N. VA., AND W. VA. Chapter XIV.

Search Civil War Official Records

have accompanied the disease. A fresh and a dry camp, therefore, is in my opinion decidedly necessary for the command. If a suitable ground is selected and the tents up in the way I have suggested, I should look for favorable results.

Allow me to insert here what I have omitted in its proper place, that the tent foundations should not be permitted to be banked up with dirt. You can never have a dry soil under the tent floors where this practice obtains.

I respectfully recommend an immediate change of the camping grounds of all the brigades that show an undue proportion of sick; that these grounds shall be selected upon proper principles in relation to their drainage capabilities, their exposure to storms, and the vicinity of marshes; that they shall be ditched in the mode I have pointed out, and that the tents shall be fitted up as I have suggested. .

The food of our men is now good, and they are gradually improving in their cooking. We have no pernicious dysenteries or diarrheas in our camps. The clothing of the men is generally good. I do not think any deficiency in this respect has anything to do with the fevers that scourge our Vermont troops. If it were practicable, it would be desirable that our men should be furnished with the high water-proof boots, that their feet and legs might be kept dry when compelled to walk through the deep mud of the Virginia side of the Potomac.

I recommended in September that hot coffee should be issued to the men immediately after reveille. This was enjoined in general orders. I doubt whether it is now observed, but I think it important, and it should be reiterated. Picket duty is very severe at this season. The tenet d'abris, if not used, might be used much to the comfort of the men exposed. I would give a whisky ration twice a day to men thus exposed, and they certainly should be furnished with the long boots I have suggested.

A little contrivance might provide them a comparatively dry bivouac. India-rubber blankets to spread upon the ground would be advisable. I think if we do all this, or as much of it as is possible, we shall have done all we can to secure the health of our men. I do not expect it will meet the whole difficulty in the Vermont cases, but it will go far to alleviate it. I believe there is a nostalgic element in those regiments affecting them unfavorably. This we cannot remedy, except in so far as it may be aggravated by the spectacle of so many of their comrades being sick and dying. We shall did mich disease by the course I have pointed out, and this will react favorably upon the other men. The process of acclimation has been more tedious in these troops than in any others. It does, however, progress. Most of the sickness in these regiments occurs among the recruits, and those regiments which have been longest here are the best off. All this in encouraging.

While upon this subject, I ask leave to suggest that it is advisable to forbid soldiers coming into the cities of Washington or Georgetown unless upon duty with written orders. Small-pox is quite prevalent in these cities, and I have reason to believe that the cases that have occurred of late among our men have originated from exposure in town. Vaccination has been pushed as actively as possible among our troops, but still cases of this disease do occur. Men have become its subjects who have been vaccinated and revaccinated very recently. Such occurrences sent all calculations at defiance, and I know no other means of preventing them than keeping our men out of the way of infection altogether. I also earnestly recommend that all recruits intended for this army shall be revaccinated before they leave the rendezvous where they.