If you desire to hear further please send a note to Dr. R. H. Coolidge, colonel and medical inspector, U. S. Army, now in this city.
M. C. MEIGS,
HEADQUARTERS ROCK ISLAND BARRACKS,
Rock Island, Ill., February 10, 1864.
Colonel W. HOFFMAN,
Commissary-General of Prisoners, Washington, D. C.:
COLONEL: I have the honor to report that I arrived at this post on the 3rd instant, and since that time have been engaged in making my inspection, instituting certain changes in the administration of the hospital department, and investigating the causes of the present prevalence of the smallpox at the post. A detailed report of inspection, with copies of communications addressed to the commanding officer, and of reports received, I send herewith. * I find that there has been much remissness on the part of the medical officers of the prison in not taking proper measures to prevent the spread of the smallpox. In some cases the proper steps have been suggested, but not urged with sufficient energy. On my arrival I found some thirty-eight cases of the disease, and some of these in an advanced stage, lying among their fellows in the prison barracks. this is inexcusable. The fact had not ben reported to the commanding officer by the surgeon in charge. That officer should, however, have been acquainted with the fact through his provost-marshal, and should have directed their immediate removal, even without the request of the surgeon. Much excuse is to be made for the medical officers in view of their inexperience and of the difficulties with which they had to contend, as shown in their reports (Nos. 6 and 7). Doctor Temple is an acting assistant surgeon and was not aware of the extent of his authority or duties as surgeon in charge. Doctor Moxley is a very young officer, but recently commissioned, and, though anxious and trying to do his whole duty, is entirely unfitted both by temperament and inexperience for a charge of this magnitude. A medical officer of experience and executive ability should be at once assigned to duty here. Acting Assistant Surgeon Iles is an old man, and, as I am informed by the commanding officer, was completely bewildered at being placed in such a charge, and though not unskilled professionally had not the slightest idea of his duty as an officer. I have called for no report from him. A large portion of the blame in this matter appears to rest with the officers at Louisville, Ky.,, who sent prisoners to this post who had been exposed to the contagion and even some with the disease already broken out. (See Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.) I found the supply of vaccine virus on hand nearly or quite exhausted, so telegraphed at once to the assistant surgeon-general at Louisville and to Saint Louis for a supply, and which I have directed to be thoroughly used immediately on its arrival (Nos. 8 and 9). I found it necessary to direct a large addition to the pest hospital. This is already under way (Numbers 1). A prison hospital is imperatively demanded. A plan for a proposed building, to be erected just south of the prison inclosure, has been sent to you by Colonel Johnson, which I hope will meet with your approval, as it is, I think, the best, and certainly as economical as any that can be furnished. Captain Reynolds, depot quartermaster, has applied to the quartermaster's Department for authority to erect it (Numbers 2). A post hospital for the garrison is also greatly needed. A
*All omitted, except report of inspection, in view of the inspector's remarks on the subjects treated in the communications.