[Inclosure Numbers 2.]
DEPOT PRISONERS OF WAR,
Near Sandusky, Ohio, December 25, 1863.
Lieutenant Colonel WILLIAM S. PIERSON, Commanding:
SIR: The number of prisoners received at this post since its organization is 6,410. The health of the prisoners has been as good as could have been expected with the same number of men, with their general health impaired by previous disease, exposure, and bad diet, and while there has been the ordinary sickness of camps and prisons, we have had also fevers of a typhoid type, rubeola, smallpox, erysipelas, hospital gangrene, and diphtheria; but the mortality has been small in the aggregate and also in the number of cases attacked. The whole number of deaths from all causes has been 127, an average of six and one third per month. The cases have been as successfully treated here as they could have been anywhere with the confinement and the fact that prisoners are apt to get into a low condition and despondent, being away from home and friends; but uniform kindness of manner and encouraging language give them hope and confidence of recovery. The accommodations for the sick are good. The hospital building is 126 feet by 30 feet, with a transverse hall 6 1/2 feet wide in the center; there are 4 wards 48 by 30 feet, containing 80 beds, and giving to each patient, when full, 728 cubic feet of atmospheric air. The office and steward's room is below, and immediately above is the consulting room, used also as a sleeping-room by the house surgeons, that they may be always at hand to attend to the wants of the patients, and never since the establishment of the hospital have I been without competent Confederate surgeons to assist me in attending the sick, and who cheerfully gave their time to that duty. When the surgeons were exchanged, I have supplied their place with surgeons holding commissions in the line. The cooking arrangements are good, and I now have a professed cook, who is most apt in getting up many nice dishes for the sick. In addition to the rations I furnish them flour, potatoes, corn-meal, butter, eggs, chickens, tea, &c. ; milk being the most difficult to obtain, and in winter the supply is very meager on the island. Of medicines and stimulants the supply is liberal, and more than double the proportion used by the same number of our troops. The bedding is sufficient in bed sacks and blankets, but the number of sheets and pillows is insufficient for all, but the most needy are supplied. The smallpox has been three times brought here by prisoners from this point, but the cases are immediately removed from the prison to the pest-house, which narrows as much as possible the chance of contagion, and with twenty-six cases here since July there have been but four deaths, and they all of the confluent variety. We have been so fortunate as to lose none with hospital gangrene. If it be proper in this, I would recommend that some provision be made by which the prisoners can purchase onions, cabbage, and potatoes. In my opinion there are not sufficient vegetables in the old army rations for the permanent health of the prisoners. So little time has now elapsed, however, since the prisoners had the opportunity to purchase of the sutler that the evils arising in camp for want of sufficient vegetable diet have not become manifest.
I am, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
Surgeon Hoffman's Battalion, Depot Prisoners of War.