APRIL 21, 1864.
The Commissioner of Exchange, Mr. OULD:
What do you advise on this proposition?*
J. A. S.,
MEDICAL DIRECTOR'S OFFICE,
Richmond, Va., March 23, 1864.
General JOHN H. WINDER,
Commanding Department of Henrico, Richmond, Va.:
GENERAL: I respectfully request that you forward this communication, with inclosures, that it may be considered in connection with the report of Lieutenant Colonel George W. Brent and Surg. T. G. Richardson, Richmond, March 14, on the inspection of prison hospitals in Richmond.
I request that inclosures Numbers 3, Numbers 7, and Numbers 8, with indorsements, be perused before deciding the causes of the mortality at these prisons, and that especially the commissary abstracts for Belle Isle for the last four months be consulted. The great mortality and suffering among our prisoners has been a cause of constant anxiety and painful solicitude to me. Daily reports have been made to the general commanding and the Surgeon-General of the mortality, &c. Inclosures Nos. 1,2,3,5, and 6 will show that I made requisitions on the proper authority for additional hospital accommodation, and named the Texas Hospital, General Hospital Numbers 10, General Hospital Numbers 20, General Hospital Numbers 23, in succession, as proper buildings. I also offered the Third Alabama Hospital, when closed, and proposed to use for this purpose Howard's Grove Hospital, which has 1,150 beds, is temporarily closed, and is isolated from the city and all other buildings; or part of Chimborazo Hospital, which has 3,200 beds. I was informed that they could not be used for this purpose, as guard sufficient could not be furnished, and that only in buildings with several stories and few entrances could the sick and wounded prisoners be guarded with the force furnished. As it was, I know that quite frequent escapes occurred.
Numbers 2 is the action taken on the proper of Surgeon Wilkins, marked A.
Numbers 6 is his application, marked B, with my reference and indorsements.
I brought the matter to the attention of the Surgeon-General in a personal interview, told him of the difficulties existing, and that I had represented the violation of hygienic laws in the prisons and prison hospitals without effect, and understood from his remarks that the matter was one of international policy and military control. There was an inspection made of the hospitals and prisons by the direction of the Secretary of War for the use of the agent of exchange. General John H. Morgan and a committee of escaped officers inspected them and a committee of Congress also, and they all reported favorably and approvingly. At this time I adopted the conviction that the existing state of things was known and approved by the Department for the purposes of diplomatic policy, or forces upon them by the stern necessities of the occasion. I lost no occasion to make known to the proper authorities the violation of ordinary hygienic, laws, and while I looked upon the spectacle with great mortification, I was deterred from further remonstrances by a feeling that it was supererogatory, and might be understood as disrespectful. Large, well-ventilated, and completely
*See Ould to Seddon, April 23, 1864, Vol. VII, this series.