From the Richmond Dispatch, 7/14/1862, p. 2, c. 2
RICHMOND, VA., July 12, 1862.
EDITORS OF THE DISPATCH – Gentlemen: About the 23d ult. I published a card in your paper, charging that one SILAS M. EAST, a private of my company, had been treated with "monstrous and criminal neglect" at Seabrook's Hospital; as a proof of this, that vermin had been suffered to breed and fatten on the wound. Dr. COFFIN, Surgeon in charge, replied, accompanying his reply with a certificate from Private S. M. EAST, which the Doctor was sanguine enough to hope was a "sufficient refutation." How this certificate was wrung from the wounded man, while prostrate and helpless, will appear below, and it resembles what lawyers call "stuffing" more than fair dealing. The Doctor is kind enough to lecture me on the impropriety of putting in print such an "unjust reflection," as he terms it. With due thanks for the homily he would read me, I must refer him to the fact that certificate No. 2 from Mr. EAST proves that, after the publication of my card, much better attention was given him than before. It waked somebody up; that fact is evident.
The Doctor digresses in his reply. 1st. In causing S. M. EAST to certify that his Captain had not visited him during his confinement. What had that to do with the subject? But "the mere matter of fact is nevertheless true." I had not visited him up to that time, from the simple fact that I had not visited Richmond since the battle of Seven Pines. This also explains why the Doctor's card was not honored with an earlier notice. 2d. The Doctor digresses in attempting to construe my charge of neglect in the management of the hospital as a reflection upon the ladies of Richmond. I disclaim it. Their patriotic devotion to the sick and wounded that have filled the city for months is above all praise, and shows them to be worthy descendants of the women of '76, and equal to the trials and sacrifices of '62. And right here I will pay a tribute to Mrs. Greenhow, who, I believe, was immured so long in Washington. I heard one of my company, at the St. Charles, recount the kindness of this estimable lady, and the tear that glistened in his eye, and the tremor of his voice, bespoke the depth of gratitude felt by the wounded man. May this lady and the Richmond ladies live to see our newly-built Government the most prosperous, contented, and happy on earth.
JNO. T. SMITH,
Capt. Co. I, 13th Alabama.
SEABROOK'S HOSPITAL, July 11, 1862
I, Silas M. East, Company I, 13th Alabama regiment, do hereby certify that the certificate with my signature, published in the Dispatch of July 25th, does not read as I understood the one to which I affixed my signature. Dr. Coffin wrote the certificate. I never read it; it was read to me by Dr. Coffin. I do also certify that there were vermin in my wound the day Lieutenant Wood visited me, and had been there for three days, as near as I can recollect. I also certify that I received much better nursing after Capt. Smith's card appeared, than before.
S. M. EAST.
Witness, JAMES M. PITTMAN.
jy 14 – 1t*