War of the Rebellion: Serial 119 Page 0992 PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records


Camp Morton, Indianapolis, Ind., February 26, 1864.


Commissary-General of Prisoners, Washington, D. C.:

COLONEL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your telegram of the 25th instant, directing the establishment of a tent hospital outside the prison inclosure for the accommodation of smallpox cases occurring in this camp. I would respectfully state that the three cases mentioned in my letter of the 16th instant are all that have as yet occurred. In case the disease should reappear your instructions will be obeyed.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Colonel, Commanding Camp Morton.


Saint Louis, Mo., February 26, 1864.

Lieutenant-Colonel MARSH,

Acting Provost-Marshal-General, Dept. of the Missouri:

COLONEL: In response to your request for a report on the sanitary condition of this prison I have the honor to state:

Buildings. - The buildings are but illy adapted to the purpose. They are old, with insufficient light and ventilation, poor sewerage, and so limited an area of yard room as to make it impossible for the prisoners to take the proper amount of exercise. The large square room, in which an average number of 300 men is confined, contains only 70,380 cubic feet of air, allowing but 230- feet to each man. The octagon room contains but 45,488 feet, giving 180 feet to each prisoner. The water supply is insufficient for bathing purposes, and wholly so to properly flood the sewers. The privies are poorly arranged and extremely filthy. The whole building, moreover, is insecure, as the floors have settled and the walls sprung to an alarming extent.

Myrtle Street Prison. - In some respects the Myrtle Street Prison is even worse. No attempt has been made here to secure proper ventilation. The amount of air space averages 187 feet to each man (in one room but 90), and that vitiated by close stoves without water. All light is excluded from the strong rooms, and air is admitted through a few auger holes in the floor and roof. These do not communicate with the external air, but with the spaces between the floors. The means of cooking and bathing and the water supply are inadequate.

Police. - Both of these prisons are excessively filthy, partly due to their overcrowded condition, but principally to a lack of proper police and the enforcement of personal cleanliness. I would most earnestly recommend that these buildings be abandoned and barrack prisons with ridge ventilation be erected, where sufficient light and air could be secured, and space enough inclosed to afford opportunity for exercise. Ventilation. - If the necessities of the case compel the continued occupation of the se buildings the strong rooms on Myrtle street should be abandoned, and in both prisons immediate steps be taken to secure proper ventilation. Large air shafts should be run through the buildings, with openings at the top and bottom of each room. Diet. - The diet list is insufficient. No vegetables have been issued since the middle of December, and the result is a decided tendency to scorbutic diseases. The diet should be varied, and potatoes, onions, and pickled cabbage issued as often as three times a week. Eating in rooms. - The