officers of the regiments and the posts. Their authority is complete, and the evils referred to arise from the want of its exercise. In none of the hospitals accurate lists of the sick, convalescent, discharged, and dead have been found, but in a vast majority of instances that list, instead of being made from regimental returns accompanying the sick have been the result of inquiry and observation by the hospital surgeon. When to this is added that the absence of the descriptive roll prevented the sick from the use of their pay in the purchase of comforts for themselves, your committee feel it due to truth and justice to notice this neglect as seriously injuring the service. Fifth, the indifferent as well as the unwholesome food provided for the sick, and the use of which by well men made them sick, attracted the attention of the committee. The rations were wholesome, sound, and abundant, but the cooking, particularly the bread, rendered it unsuitable for either sick or healthy men. Bread hastily made up of flour and water add imperfectly baked, almost incapable of being digested, was deemed a most fruitful source of disease. It was apparent at those camps where well-baked bread was served to the men that the amount of disease was greatly reduced. We think bakeries in Richmond and other convenient localities might be provided, and by serving good bread to the soldiers the saving in material would greatly overbalance any expense to the Government. Until good bread is furnished to the Army we look in vain for a permanent restoration of health. The rapid recovery of many who have been permitted to return home to get well demonstrates the efficacy of wholesome and nutritious diet rather than the use of medicines. The great majority of the deaths result from the want of proper nutriment, such as the impaired digestion of the patient can assimilate, and without which it is impossible for him to recover. At Norfolk, at Staunton, at Charlottesville, the amelioration of the condition of the sick, by improved nutriment and comfortable hospitals and hospital surgeons, was strikingly apparent. The sickness and mortality at Norfolk were inconsiderable because of the fresh vegetables, the good bread, good hospitals, and all the comforts necessary for the sick. Sixth, the establishment of a corps of nurses for the camps, as well as the sick in camps. Good nursing is of equal value to medical attention. Without it the best skill is often unavailable. Constant attention and control of the sick cannot be dispensed with, and the faithful application of remedies prescribed cannot be expected from the attention of casual nurses. Our volunteer army are unaccustomed to such duties, and we shall vainly look for great improvement without the presence of constant and competent nurses for the sick.
Much of the insufficiency of the medical staff is to be attributed to unavoidable evils in the mode of appointment in the sudden organization of so large an army. It was impossible for the head of this Bureau to be thoroughly informed of the fitness of applicants for the position sought by them in the medical staff. He was necessarily dependent upon such means of information as the circumsow, and depended mainly upon the recommendations of the field officers of the regiments to which the surgeons and their assistants were to be assigned. In this way many very young and inexperienced persons were recommended and appointed, and much evil resulted from their want of qualification for their duties. The older and best of the physicians of the country were not usually applicants for the places, and the selection was to be made from those who offered their services. The history of the war up to a month or two since has fully developed this evil, and the institution of a board of examiners, it is hoped, may afford some remedy. The service demands the best talents and the most enlarged experience, and the greatest circumspection is indispensable in assigning to such responsible duties those who seek appointments in the medical staff.
The want of medical stores is the result, in a great measure, of the existing blockade, and the expense and difficulty in procuring those foreign medicines which are indispensable for the sick, and it is but just to say that great and unusually successful efforts have been made by the department in obtaining them. The hospitals established by many of the States for the sick and wounded, and the admirable manner in which they have been conducted, demonstrates that, with the same care on the part of the Confederate Government, the condition of the sick and the prospects of recovery would be greatly improved. Hospital room and an increase of hospital surgeons and assistants are greatly needed.
In connection with the views of the committee upon the means best adapted to the preservation of the health of the Army and the restoration of the sick, they would call attention to the necessity of providing some practical, simple, and easy mode of obtaining furloughs for sick soldiers to visit their homes.
The regulations requiring the certificate of the surgeon of regiments or hospitals when the sick are far distant from their command, and the certificates of commanposing the application, is, in a large proportion of the