O.R.--SERIES I--VOLUME XLII/2 [S# 88]
CONFEDERATE CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS, RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN SOUTHEASTERN VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA, FROM AUGUST 1, 1864, TO SEPTEMBER 30, 1864.--#2
GENERAL HOSPITAL, HOWARD'S GROVE,
Richmond, Va., August 18, 1864.
Hon. JAMES M. BAKER,
Hon. A. E. MAXWELL,
C. S. Senators from Florida:
GENTLEMEN: As an officer of the C. S. Army it is my duty to do all in my power to increase the strength and efficiency of our armies by the exercise of my profession or by my advice on subjects appertaining to the medical hygiene and regulation of the health of the soldiers under my care and others when necessary. I address this communication to you in order to call your attention to the condition of General Finegan's brigade from our State. This brigade is a very large one, and was highly efficient while in Florida, for the reason that the men were accustomed to the climate, which is highly favorable to soldiers who are acclimated. They enjoyed good health, and were capable of doing good service. Since the arrival of this brigade in Virginia, the latter part of May last, its strength has been reduced fully two-thirds by various causes, but principally from climatic influences. This being the hospital for the States of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, and Arkansas, I will give some facts which go to show that these Floridians suffer more from sickness here than either of the other States, because there are more new troops from Florida than from either of the other States. Texas and Arkansas have but few troops here, and they are all veterans. Mississippi and Alabama have many more than Florida, mostly veterans also. The numbers received into the hospital from each of those States are as follows: Alabama, 2,298; Mississippi, 925; Florida, 817; Texas, 295; Arkansas, 74. Alabama has about fifty regiments; Mississippi, about forty; Florida, six; Texas, three, and Arkansas, two, so that the proportion from Florida is far greater than from either of the other States, and the deaths are still greater in proportion to the admissions. The admissions are about one-quarter, while the deaths are one-third, showing that the Floridians die more rapidly than from these other States.
The composition of this brigade will also prove that it cannot be efficient in this climate under the fatigues which they are necessarily compelled to go through. First, it is composed of men over conscript age; second, men within conscript age who have been discharged from other commands in Virginia and Tennessee because they were unable to stand the hard service; third, boys under eighteen, a large number of whom have taken measles and will be unfit for service here for some months, and if they are furloughed they have to come back and go through the same acclimation as if they had never been here; all these facts go to prove that this brigade cannot do service in Virginia. It came here 2,500 rank and file, and now I am informed there are less <ar88_1189> than 800 for duty. If they were sent back to Florida all these sick would soon recover and it would again be an efficient body of troops and would do good service there, while here many of them will die, and others will cumber the hospitals and be a trouble and expense to the Government. With these opinions, which I have no doubt will be fully corroborated by the officers of the brigade, I would earnestly request you to endeavor to get this brigade back to Florida, and by so doing you will benefit the cause far more than to let these men linger out a painful existence in a climate inimical to them. Our rulers are men of enlarged views and experience, and I have no doubt if you would represent the matter to them they would at once order them back.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
T. M. PALMER,
Surgeon in Charge.