War of the Rebellion: Serial 118 Page 0381 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. - UNION.

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The medical department is under the charge of Asst. Surg. E. A. Merrifield, Fifty-eighth Illinois Volunteers, and is plentifully supplied with medicines and other hospital supplies. I have inspected the hospitals and find [in] them but little improvement over the barracks as regards cleanliness. I was indeed surprised to find such a filthy place for sick men. These hospitals have a large number of nurses and attendants who have been detailed from the prisoners themselves, and every care and attention is given to the patients. The buildings used as prisoners' hospitals are illy adapted to the purposes to which they are applied. They are not sufficiently well ventilated and are badly arranged. As cleanliness and ventilation are the great essentials for a hospital no buildings would answer the purpose in the condition I found these. I attribute their condition to the indolence of the nurses and attendants, to the want of force in the medical officers in charge of the hospitals and to the general disregard of police regulations by the prisoners. Assistant Surgeon Merrifield is well aware of the wants of his hospitals, as that of the troops was in good condition. He has repeatedly given proper instructions, but has shown a want of energy and force in not enforcing them. The officers here have given many directions to the prisoners regarding their own comfort, but have permitted their instructions to be disregarded. The prisoners, indolent from confinement, will not perform the ordinary police duties of the camp demanded by all sanitary regulations without compulsion. There are two physicians employed by contract as assistants to Doctor Merrifield in the prisoners' hospitals. There are also three prisoners who represent themselves to be medical officers of the C. S. Army, and who are employed attending the sick prisoners, and render valuable service. Doctor Merrifield appears desirous of doing his duty, is active and industrious, but there is a looseness, want of discipline and system in the hospitals. There were three buildings used as prison hospitals which contained 207 patients. e seriously sick and presented a case of suffering calculated to excite much sympathy. Besides those sick in hospitals there were 250 prisoners receiving medical treatment in the barracks. These prisoners were not seriously unwell and were enable to visit the hospitals daily for their medicines. Besides the hospitals above referred to there was a small building separated from the camp and without the inclosure that is used as a smallpox hospital. It contained seven prisoners, all varioloid cases. The sanitary condition of the prisoners has improved but little since their arrival. The principal causes of their unhealthy condition are exposure in transportation to this camp; long confinement on transports without sufficient clothing to protect them from the weather; prostration and reduction before capture, together with a total neglect of all sanitary regulations and of personal cleanliness. The mortality of the camp is quite large; 103 persons died during the month of February. The prisoners' fund is rapidly accumulating and proper economy is exercised in its disbursement.

Quite a number of prisoners have taken the oath of allegiance. Before being permitted to do so each applicant is carefully questioned and examined and if there is reason to doubt the sincerity of his application this indulgence is not granted. I think that proper attention is not given to this subject and that the examination is not sufficiently thorough. The commanding officer is entirely too liberal in his indulgences in this respect. A number of the prisoners here are Texas conscripts and there is a great deal of professed loyalty among them.