When first we promised to contribute our mite to the subject before us we must confess we thought the task much easier than it has since proved to be. On looking over our notes we find them incomplete in many important particulars, and as we have but little time to investigate the subject in so scientific a manner as its importance demands, we are almost tempted to at once desist and confess our inability to do justice to the subject. But as our promise is out, and this paper is for your use, and not for public criticism, we will make the effort, hoping you will judge its merits with "Christian charity," and correct us in any errors we may make through ignorance or inexperience, and give us such information as you may deem necessary for our benefit in the future.
In order to show you the kind of material we have to work on it will be necessary to first give you a list of the most prevalent diseases among the prisoners, consequent or great mental and nervous depression, from long confinement in overcrowded and badly arranged prisons, seclusion from society, long-deferred hope, a lack of cleanliness, insufficient supply of nourishing food, a want of proper exercise of both body and mind, and from breathing an atmosphere so much vitiated by idio miasma as to be insufficient to produce the proper degree of eoxygenation of the blood, a condition so necessary to both mental and bodily soundness. This depraved blood then affords an imperfect stimulus to the brain and nervous system, and as a result we have languor and inactivity of the mental and nervous functions, with a tendency to headache, syncope, hypochondriasis, and hemeralopia. The diseases most commonly met with are diarrhea, dysentery, intermittent and remittent fever, with continued, or camp, fever, as many term it. We also have catarrhal affections, with occasion pneumonia, and pleuritis, and, above all, scorbutus.
As it so rarely happens in the course of a long experience of the medical practitioner or surgeon that he has an opportunity of witnessing this most formidable and loathsome disease in all its aggravated forms, it might not be amiss to introduce in this place a detailed account of that fearful disease, as it has prevailed and is still prevailing in this prison. But as that would be a work of superrerogation and lead us too far from our subject, we will not attempt the task. Out of 30,000 prisoners who have been confined at this place during the past spring and summer, perhaps not less than one-half have suffered from this disease in some of its various forms.
As a sequel to the above-named diseases we have oedema, anasarca, ascites, hydrothorax, anaemia, and ulcers of nearly every variety and form. These ulcers are produced from the slightest causes imaginable. A pin scratch, a prick of a splinter, a pustual, an abrasion, or even a mosquito bite are sufficient causes for their production. The phagedenic ulcer is the most common variety met with among the prisoners, and usually commences from some of the causes enumerated above, or from wounds or injuries of a more serious nature. when from any of these causes an ulcer forms, it speedily assures a phagedenic appearance and extends over a large extent of surface, and presents irritable, jagged, and everted edges, and slowly destroys the deep tissues down to the bone. The surface presents a large ash-colored or greenish-yellow slough and emits a very offensive odor. After the slough is removed by appropriate treatment the parts beneath show but little tendency to granulate. Occasionally, however, apparently healthy granulations spring up and progress finely for a time, and again fall into sloughing,