OFFICE COMMISSARY-GENERAL OF PRISONERS, Washington, D. C., December 14, 1863.
Brigadier General A. SCHOEPF, Commanding Fort Delaware, Del.:
GENERAL: Your letter of the 4th instant, relating to the establishment of a smallpox hospital on the New Jersey shore, is received. My letter of the 30th instant [ultimo] was intended as an order for the erection of a hospital, but the reasons you urge for delaying the work are of a character to make it proper to reconsider the matter. That you may understand what led to the issuing of the order I inclose herewith a report of the condition of the sick at Fort Delaware made by Assistant Surgeon Silliman to the medical director at Baltimore. This report is dated on the 5th of November, and puts a very different face upon the matter from his report of the 6th, one day later, which was forwarded by you on the 7th of November. I was much embarrassed by the contradictory character of the reports, but as there seemed to be no doubt that 300 men had died in September and 330 in October, there could be no hesitation as to the propriety of establishing a detached hospital, as was recommended by the medical director and the Surgeon-General. Surgeon Clark, who made an inspection of the hospital at that time, concurred in this recommendation, though the figures which he obtained differed very much from those given in Surgeon Suckley's indorsement. Please report fully on the whole matter, and I will again call the attention of the Secretary of War to it. Oblige me by returning the inclosed communication.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel Third Infantry, Commissary-General of Prisoners.
FORT DELAWARE, DEL., November 5, 1863.
Surg. GEORGE SUCKLEY, U. S. Volunteers,
Acting Medical Director, Middle Department:
SIR: I have the honor herewith to transmit the monthly report of sick and wounded prisoners of war at this post during the month of October. I also inclose a list of deaths which have occurred. * An epidemic of variola has been prevailing at this post, chiefly among prisoners. I have employed as agents to check its progress, cleanliness, as far as practicable, disinfectants (i. e., chloride of lime, and the Ridge wood disinfecting powder), exercise in the open air, and vaccination. The violence of the disease has evidently abated but I am still admitting one or two new cases daily. I would respectfully suggest that sufficient grounds be procured on the New Jersey shore of the bay opposite the fort for the erection of a number of hospital tents, whither these cases might be transported and there treated without endangering the lives of those who remained. The contagious hospital which I now have in use is entirely too small for the purpose, and in addition is in close connection with the main building.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. R. SILLIMAN,
Assistant Surgeon, U. S. Army, Post Surgeon.
*List omitted shows 376 soldiers and 1 citizen.