contemplated, they have agreed with me in reference to its effect upon the health of the troops under your command, and I therefore deem it strictly my duty to advise with you in reference to it, so that you may properly represent the matter to the division commander.
We have been in this camp ten weeks, and, on account of the scarcity of tools, it has taken us eight weeks to prepare comfortable quarters. Were we to move at this time we would lose the benefit of our labors, and it would be the 1st of March before we could get suitable quarters prepared in a new camp, at which time the spring campaign will surely commence. The men are poorly, very poorly, supplied with blankets and tents, and from their cabins to out-of-doors would be a very great change. The weather will be for the next two months very wet and cool, which, in conjunction with the change in sleeping, will inevitably produce a large amount of sickness, principally pneumonia and typhoid fever, the two fell scourges of the army. Our general hospital accommodations and supplies of medicines are very limited, and we are not prepared to meet the demands of much sickness. We must use prophylactic and hygienic measures to preserve the health of our army, and not attempt to cure men who are made sick by improper management.
If this move is made it is the honest conviction of our medical officers that may, very many, valuable lives will thereby be sacrificed; and in the spring, when you may wish healthy, cheerful men to enter upon active duties, you will find them crowding your hospitals and invalids in camp. Our health is remarkably good at this time in the entire brigade; only 46 reported unfit for duty, and the diseases are of a very mild character.
Your quartermaster informs me that he can easily forage and ration the brigade at this camp during the winter, and even should we be completed to transport these things for some distance, would it not be better to sacrifice a few mules than a large number of men?
I am, very respectfully, &c.,
E. W. HERNDON,
Senior Surgeon, Fourth Brigade.
HEADQUARTERS FOURTH BRIGADE, PRICE'S DIVISION,
December 30, 1863.
Respectfully forwarded. The opinions expressed by Surgeon Herndon are fully coincided in by me.
S. P. BURNS,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS,
Camden, January 4, 1864.
Respectfully returned to Major-General Price, who will make arrangements for the subsistence of his troops in their present camp as long as possible. He is authorized to send his artillery horses and such part of his transportation as can be spared to the neighborhood of Lewisville, or such other nearer point as he may deem advisable, where they can be foraged; as also to make any other arrangement that he may consider necessary, being always certain that he can recall his transportation and artillery horses in forty-eight hours at furthest.
By command of Lieutenant-General Holmes:
J. F. BELTON,
Lieutenant-Colonel and Assistant Adjutant-General.