CHAPTER XVI: PRISON LIFE IN I867, CONTINUED - GARRISON REDUCED BY DEATHS FROM FEVER.
[Note: "Frank" is Mrs. Mudd's family nickname, from her middle name Frances.]
[Note: "Frank" is Mrs. Mudd's family nickname, from her middle name Frances.]
Fort Jefferson, Florida, October I, 1867.
My dear Jere:
To you and the uninformed public this Post may appear very important to be held by our country as a strategic position, offensive and defensive; but to us nothing seems more ridiculous, and the only object for the full garrison is to hold us, now four prisoners, Grenfel, Arnold, Spangler, and Mudd. We conclude therefore, since they do not remove the entire garrison from this infected spot, that they would prefer to sacrifice us with the garrison, sooner than cause our removal to a more salubrious locality. Thus far four valuable officers have yielded up their lives, and misery untold has been entailed upon their distressed families, - not saying anything of the brave men in the ranks who have perished, - to carry out what can only be termed a complimentary sentence in atonement for the life of the Chief Executive of the people, though such sentence is contrary to law and every principle of justice.
By the hand of Providence my fetters have been broken, yet I run not, preferring to share the fate of those around me and to lend what aid in my power to breaking down the burning fever, overcoming the agonizing delirium, and giving all the hope and encouragement possible to the death-stricken victims of the pestilence.
Dr. Whitehurst from Key West, an old man sixty odd years of age, is attending here night and day, doing all that human judgment and skill can effect, without the hope of any other reward than that promised to those who do unto others as they wish to be done by. I have done all that lay in my power, and feel encouraged by the gratitude expressed by those I have relieved. It is high time that the public was made acquainted with the fact, and those in power made to yield to a proper sense of duty and regard for justice, instead of visiting upon helpless victims an unjust and tyrannical punishment. A million and more dollars have already been thrown away to debauch the public morals in the vain hope that they might fix, with some plausible degree of justice, the stigma of the crime of the assassination on innocent victims.
We have, up to the present, lost by the fever at this Post thirty-three in all, counting men, women, and children, which is a small mortality, considering the number attacked with the disease and the inadequate facilities for treatment. I suppose ere this reaches you you will have heard of the death of Lieutenant Gordon of Baltimore. He had been here but a short time, and had been married but two months. Lieutenant Zulinski is lying dangerously ill with the fever. There is but one officer here to perform all the duties, and he only a second lieutenant; all the rest have died. Two companies have been sent to an adjacent island, and thus far have remained quite healthy and free from the fever. The whole garrison could have been removed as well and the epidemic at once cut short; but this did not appear a part of the program, and the pestilential vapors have spread death and destruction. O’Loughlin dead - stain upon the country. I and all labored day and night to save him, but in vain. The vital spark was too weak, and he yielded in quiet submission to the omnipotent hand of Providence.
Your brother, SAM.
October 14, 1867.
My precious Frank:
I received yours and Fannie’s of the 23d of September, on October 11, to which I replied in a very few lines on that day. I sat up in bed to write them, but now I have fully recovered from the fever, with the exception of strength and flesh, which will take some time to restore in this climate under the circumstances we are placed.
Since I have been sick I have had the greatest desire for fruits, apples, peaches, etc. These we barely meet with, except in the very imperfect state of hermetically sealed cans. Although the State abounds in fruits at all seasons, we seldom meet with any. Occasionally a few oranges, bananas, and pineapples come on the boats, but the price is so enormous we can’t afford to indulge in a plentiful supply.
We have pretty constantly on hand Irish potatoes, yams, or sweet potatoes, onions, ham and butter, for which we pay the following prices, viz: ham, thirty cents; butter, seventy cents; Irish potatoes, seven dollars per barrel; yams, seven dollars per barrel; onions, eleven dollars per barrel. We have received lately a very fine barrel of potatoes from Mr. Ford, also one from an unknown party, with a splendid ham. I have but little appetite for such things, and indeed doubt very much whether I would enjoy fruits, which I have mentioned, were they brought here. I feel, with the returning seasons, the inclination for the sports and pursuits I have been accustomed to since childhood, and without the same degree of liberty, freedom of speech, etc., but little enjoyment realized.
You mentioned in your letter that Jere said Mr. Black had undertaken my case, and that he felt confident of success. You forgot to name when it would take place, and how it would be accomplished. If the Government refuses the writ of habeas corpus to be served or be of any force here, how is he then to proceed? I have already written to you plainly on the subject in anticipation of the next dodge of the political tricksters. It is all done to consume time and rob you and friends of every farthing they can. When the apples are ripe they will fall without human intervention - so with my release. When I am released from here, I shall thank no mortal man for it, but shall look upon it only in the light of every other thing in nature, that it was ordained, could not be otherwise. Jere has given you this to satisfy you. It would have been better had he imparted this information himself than entrusted you with it.
Could I believe the Government would be influenced by my good conduct, I could send to you, signed by every officer and soldier of the Post, the most praise-worthy testimonial in regard to the services recently rendered the garrison during epidemic of yellow fever here. Many have come forward and pressed me to permit them to make some public manifestation of the esteem they hold toward me, but thus far I consider it only a superfluous idea, and of no practical value. It could only serve to excite my vanity, which I am in no mood at this time to gratify. You know I was never ambitious of much preferment, and I have grown less so of late years. One of the officers came to me yesterday in person, and desired me to make known my services to the Government through the men of the garrison. I told him I would await a reply from my friends on the subject. Let me know if anything of the sort will be of service when you write.
Give my love to all and believe me most fondly,
Your husband, SAM.
Fort Jefferson, Florida, October 18, 1867.
My darling Frank:
Sissy spoke of your intended trip to Washington. I can’t see what you expect to accomplish, when millions of dollars have been expended and a number of officers’ and soldiers’ lives sacrificed to hold us here. I can see nothing but the most determined spirit, in spite of every principle of law and justice, to restrain us of our liberty, and the comfort we might be able to afford our distressed families.
I can have no sentiments of good feeling toward those in power, no matter what their politics. Pilate believed in the innocence of Christ, but was he justified in giving him up to the executioners at their cry for his blood? Such is the position, such is the light in which I hold those now in authority. A formal petition to the Government, with preamble enumerating the services I rendered the garrison, has been drawn up and signed by every non-commissioned officer of the Post. The privates will also sign it, but it will require some time to get all their names. This has been done without my knowledge. The officers, two in number, expressed themselves favorable toward the idea, and are confident it will be attended with success. Influenced by their opinion, I have consented. The appeal could be made more through curiosity to know what action the Government will pursue. I will, if I can find time before the boat goes out, send you a copy of what is intended to be forwarded to Washington. If you think proper you can present the copy in person to any one of influence, and see what effect or tendency it may have. Knowing the great prejudice pervading all classes of society toward all the so-called “conspirators,” I have but little hope of a favorable result. How anxious I feel concerning your welfare and our dear little children; it is the only pain I suffer. I have grown used to my present confinement, and it no longer occasions me dissatisfaction. I have now all the liberty I could desire here. I have plenty of books, papers, and pen and ink, at my command. I have access to a very choice library of over five hundred volumes. My fare is as good as the island can afford, and I am pressed often to accept presents in the shape of little luxuries from the soldiers, so you see, so far as bodily comforts consist, I am in want of nothing; yet so long as I am separated from you, I shall feel miserable and unhappy.
Sissy mentioned that two of the most able lawyers have been engaged in my case. She did not state when or how things would be proceeded with. This serves only to increase my curiosity and anxiety, and I would much prefer no allusion made, if all can’t be told.
We have lost no cases of yellow fever since the 6th inst. We have now only two cases in hospital. There are not over five in the garrison who have escaped the disease, with the exception of negroes. The negroes have been remarkably exempt. They sleep all the time and wake up well. I am as well now as I ever was with the exception of weakness. I am still doing duty in the hospital. I am relieving the post physician of most of the duty. Good-by.
Fort Jefferson, Florida, 1867.
My dear Jere:
The mail will leave in a few minutes, so I must be short. I have just finished a few lines to Frank. There are but three cases of fever now in hospital under active treatment. Dr. Thomas, physician of the post, is down with the fever. He is in a fair way to get well. All the duties of physician of the post are again upon me, which I am beginning to find unpleasant. The soldiers are never tired of lavishing upon me compliments and sentiments of their good-will. They have voluntarily drawn up a preamble and petition, which they wish forwarded through the proper channel, reciting my services during the epidemic of fever here. If you think such an instrument will be of benefit, let me know, and I will forward you immediately the original or a copy, which you and friends can present in person. I have written to you several times within the past month or two, without receiving any reply. I am at a loss to account for your silence. For God’s sake try and give me some truthful idea of the situation that I can look to some period in the future with some degree of hope. I have lost all energy and disposition to live under present circumstances. I have preferred not acting under my own impulses, fearing I might frustrate measures you had in contemplation for my relief; therefore, I desire to know the whole truth, so that some action of my own can be devised. Give my love to M. C., and remember me to all kind and inquiring friends.
Hoping to hear from you soon, I am, Very truly,
Fort Jefferson, Florida, October 22, 1867.
My darling Frank:
Dr. Thomas, our new post physician, is now quite sick with the fever. The whole duties, as I have already stated, have again devolved upon me, which I am beginning to find unpleasant. The epidemic influence of the fever still continues, but from the fact that all having had an attack of the disease, they are less liable to a second; and abatement is the consequence. We have but one fresh case since I wrote, viz: the Doctor. We have only one in hospital that is dangerously ill; all the rest are convalescent. There are two companies over on an adjacent island, which I believe the commanding officer intends bringing over the first of next month. These have remained exempt from the disease and otherwise healthy. The whole garrison could have been removed as well, but Providence decreed otherwise, and those entrusted with the command at that time have been swept away by the rude hand of the pestilence, in consequence of this necessary precaution being omitted.
I am still possessing my usual health with the exception of strength, which I find very slow in returning after an attack of this fever. My duties, however, are light, and I am able to get along as well as I might expect. There is no news stirring upon this desolate island - everything is lifeless and inactive. The dull spirit of the soldiers, etc., seems to add desolation to the appearance. You can imagine better than I can describe the condition and haggard walk of those who have recently been visited with the fever, and are on the slow march to health.
I send you enclosed the petition gotten up by the officers and soldiers. This is signed only by the non-commissioned officers; the other which is designed to be sent to the President is signed by every officer and soldier in the garrison. I shall await with some curiosity to know what effect it will have. I was in hopes that, long ere this, some measure of relief would have been devised by my very knowing and sympathetic friends, and that I would be happily in your midst.
From all quarters I hear that there is considerable good feeling manifested, and that a pressure is being made by the public for my unconditional and immediate release. I am inclined to doubt, since nothing practical is resorted to. You will please give me all the information on the subject of my release that you deem expedient, in your next. I want to know the time when I may expect the benefits of the action at law contemplated. I look upon law nowadays as equivalent to injustice, something that aggravates and adds insult to injury. I hope times have changed, and the result be otherwise.
The enclosed petition you can make use of in any manner thought advisable by friends. The weather continues very warm, the thermometer standing between 80 and 90 degrees in the shade. We can’t expect any abatement in the fever until a change takes place in the atmosphere; it will not be much lower even during the winter. Agreeable to writers on the subject, the disease is capable of extension in all latitudes above forty degrees, so it may continue here indefinitely.
Hoping the time of our unhappy separation is growing short, I am as ever,
Your devoted husband, SAM.
Following is a copy of the petition gotten up by the garrison at the Tortugas for the release of my father. All names of signers omitted:
It is with sincere pleasure that we acknowledge the great services rendered by Dr. S. A. Mudd (prisoner) during the prevalence of yellow fever at the Fort. When the very worthy surgeon of the Post, Dr. Sim Smith, fell one of the first victims of the fatal epidemic, and the greatest dismay and alarm naturally prevailed on all sides, deprived as the garrison was of the assistance of any medical officer, Dr. Mudd, influenced by the most praiseworthy and humane motives, spontaneously and unsolicited came forward to devote all his energies and professional knowledge to the aid of the sick and dying. He inspired the hopeless with courage, and by his constant presence in the midst of danger and infection, regardless of his own life, tranquillized the fearful and desponding. By his prudence and foresight, the hospital upon an adjacent island, to which at first the sick were removed in an open boat, was discontinued. Those attacked with the malady were on the spot put under vigorous treatment. A protracted exposure on the open sea was avoided, and many now strong doubtless owe their lives to the care and treatment they received at his hands. He properly considered the nature and character of the infection and concluded that it could not be eradicated by the mere removal of the sick, entailing, as it did, the loss of valuable time necessary for the application of the proper remedies, exposure of those attacked and adding to the general fear and despondency. The entire different system of treatment and hospital arrangement was resorted to with the happiest effect. Dr. Mudd’s treatment and the change which he recommended met with the hearty approval and warm commendation of the regularly appointed surgeons, with whom, in a later stage of the epidemic, he was associated. Many here who have experienced his kind and judicious treatment, can never repay him the debt of obligation they owe him. We do, therefore, in consideration of the invaluable services rendered by him during this calamitous and fatal epidemic, earnestly recommend him to the well-merited clemency of the Government, and solicit his immediate release from here, and restoration to liberty and the bosom of his family.
The original of this petition, it appears, never came into the hands of President Johnson, although mailed to him.
Fort Jefferson, Florida, October 26, 1867.
My dearest Frank:
Mail came day before yesterday, and will leave today. I received yours of October 7, complaining of the non-reception of my letters, when I have let no opportunity escape without writing. I used to feel pleasure when writing to you, but now I am feeling an indisposition and want of motive to actuate me to anything, since I know or feel that improper surveillance is exercised without my knowledge.
I wrote to you a few days ago and sent a copy of a petition gotten up by the soldiers for my release. I have not as yet, for reasons best known to myself, presented the instrument to the officers of the Post. The whole garrison have an unbounded confidence in my opinion, and prefer me to the regularly appointed physicians. There seems an idea among some, however, that by signing the instrument they might detract from the knowledge and intelligence of my associates in medicine, and thereby cause displeasure.
Dr. Thomas, whom I mentioned as being sick with the fever in my last, is still confined to his room, though in a fair way to recover. One fresh case has been admitted to the hospital since last writing. There are now three cases under active treatment, one of whom had the black vomit yesterday, and will most likely die, though his countenance and other symptoms present no such indication.
Your letters up to the present fail to give me the least satisfaction in regard to what is contemplated. Such letters serve only to keep me here longer, for I might devise some measure myself, but fear to act lest I might frustrate the actions of my friends. I want the whole truth and nothing but the truth, or not a word on the subject, because it seems only to aggravate me. I sometimes feel like swearing out against ever writing again on account of not getting proper answers to my letters, or answers to the questions I ask.
You said in your letter you have had a large number of masses and prayers said for me. Perhaps they have served to keep me alive and in suffering. I think if my stay is to be much longer, you better direct their attention to my speedy and happy death. I have lost all hope in prayer so far as the accomplishment of any worldly good. The good seem only to suffer in this world as a general rule. I must count myself out of this category, but my endeavors are to conform as near as I can to every injunction of the Christian. My health continues good, though weak and emaciated from my recent sickness. I am still performing all the duties of post physician.
I am sorry I have nothing new to impart; the same desolation, isolation and monotony prevail. Remember me to all.
Your fond and devoted husband, SAMUEL MUDD.
October 27, 1867.
Boat detained on account of night wind. Since writing the above, I have had an interview with the commanding officer, who informed me he had already made mention of my services to the Department at Washington. He has also the original document gotten up by the soldiers with all their signatures. I don’t know what action will be taken in regard to it. He is evidently favorable and will do all he can, consistent with his position, toward my release
In this connection I give a short extract taken from my father’s notes on yellow fever:
I will now, as near as I can, by a pen description, give you an idea of the embarrassment I labored under upon assuming the duties as surgeon of the post, that were unexpectedly thrust upon me, and the track followed by the germs or poison, as evidenced by the appearance of disease.
Thus on the 4th of September, seventeen days after the epidemic of yellow fever had broken out, the surgeon, Dr. J. Sim Smith, a gentleman much respected and beloved by the garrison, was himself attacked with the fever, and by his illness, the Post was left without a physician in the midst of a fearful pestilence. The thought had never before entered my mind that this contingency might arise, and consequently I found myself unprepared to decide between the contending emotions of fear and duty that now pressed to gain ascendancy. Memory was still alive, for it seemed as yesterday, the dread ordeal through which I had passed. Tried by a court not ordained by the laws of the land, confronted by suborned and most barefaced perjured testimony, deprived of liberty, banished from home, family and friends, bound in chains as the brute and forced at the point of the bayonet to do the most menial service, and withal denied for a time every luxury, and even healthy subsistence, for having exercised a simple act of common humanity in setting the leg of a man for whose insane act I had no sympathy, but which was in the line of my professional calling. It was but natural that resentment and fear should rankle in my heart, and that I should stop to discuss mentally the contending emotions that now rested upon a horrid recollection of the past. Can I be a passive beholder? Shall I withhold the little service I might be capable of rendering the unfortunate soldier who was but a tool in the hands of his exacting officer? Or shall I again subject myself to renewed imputations of assassination? Who can read the motives of men? My motive might be ever so pure and praiseworthy yet one victim of the disease might be sufficient to start up the cry of poison and murder.
Whilst these disagreeable thoughts were revolving a fellow-prisoner remarked, saying: "Doctor, the yellow fever is the fairest and squarest thing that I have seen the past four or five years. It makes no distinction in regard to rank, color, or previous condition - every man has his chance, and I would advise you as a friend not to interfere." Another said it was only a little Southern opposition to reconstruction, and thought the matter ought to be reported to Congress in order that a law might be passed lowering the temperature below zero, which would most effectually put an end to its disloyalty.
But I must be more serious; and you will perceive that the time had now arrived in which I could occupy no middle ground. I felt that I had to make a decision, and although the rule of conduct upon which I had determined was not in accord with my natural feelings, yet I had the sanction of my professional and religious teachings and the consciousness of conforming to that holy precept, "Do ye good for evil," which alone distinguishes the man from the brute.
It being our breakfast hour on the morning of the 5th, and thinking it required some condescension on the part of the commanding officer to call upon an humble prisoner to serve in the honorable position of surgeon of the post, I concluded to spare him this disagreeable duty, and instructed Mr. Arnold, a fellow prisoner and roommate, who was acting clerk at headquarters, to inform Major Stone, then commanding, that should my services be required, I had no fear of, nor objection to, performing whatever aid was in my power toward the relief of the sick. On approaching headquarters, Mr. Arnold met Major Stone coming to my quarters to inquire whether I would consent to attend the sick of the Post until the arrival of a regular surgeon.
When informed that I had offered my services, the Major seemed much pleased and had me forthwith detailed. Fortune favored me, and it so happened that during the intervals, amounting to nearly three weeks, that I had the exclusive care of the sick, not one died. Time will not permit me further digression. I shall pass over many incidents of interest connected with hospital management, difficulties I had to overcome in breaking up the prior arrangement of sending away the sick in open boats over a rough sea two miles and a half distant and also in obtaining an opposite order from the commander to send to one of the islands near by as many of the well soldiers as could be spared from the garrison. This latter measure, though I had advised it on the day I took charge of the hospital, was not carried out until the arrival of Dr. D. W. Whitehurst of Key West, Florida; a noble, kind-hearted gentleman, who superseded me on the 9th of September.
The first case of yellow fever at the Dry Tortugas, in the epidemic of which I now speak, occurred on the 18th of August, 1867, in Company K, which was located in the casemates on the south side of the Fort immediately over the unfinished moat, which at low tide gave rise to quite offensive odors. To this circumstance the surgeon of the Post attributed the cause of the disease, and at his request the company was removed and the portholes ordered to be closed, to prevent the supposed deadly miasma from entering the Fort.
Having the honor at this time of being a member of the carpenter's shop, it fell to my lot to aid in the work of barricading against the unseen foe, and it was during this patriotic service the 22nd of August, that I made my first note of the epidemic. The places occupied by the beds of the four men, one on the 18th, one on the 20th, and two on the 2lst, that had gone to the hospital sick with yellow fever, were all contiguous. The Fort was hexagonal in shape with a bastion at each corner, and the company, after its removal, was placed on the east side, the bastion forming the center with several casemates above and below boarded up separating it from Company L on the north and the prisoners on the south, and in the most eligible position for the spread of the poison, owing to the prevalence of the wind, which from early in April up to this period had blown continuously from the southeast, varying only a few degrees.
There was a lull or temporary suspension of the activity of the poison on the 22d and 23d. For two days the company remained without any new cases, but on the 24th day one man was taken from the same company on stretchers, being unable to walk. The fever then rapidly extended right and left until it reached Company L, which was nearest the point where it arose this second time, and later the prisoners' quarters, which were more remote, were attacked. To show and to prove to you that the germs, or cause, spreads by continuity of matter, and not with the disease, the first two cases that occurred in Company L, and the first two cases among the prisoners, were immediately next the boarded partition that separated them from Company K, where the fever was raging, having followed along the rows of beds, up to this line of division, and then passed through the open spaces between the plank, which were loosely nailed.
There were at this time two hospitals, the Post Hospital within the Fort, and Sand Key Hospital on an adjacent island about two miles and a half distant, which latter was fitted up as soon as the fever began to assume an epidemical form. The sick that occurred during the night and following day were immediately taken to the Post Hospital, and from thence at 4 o'clock P. M. they were carried in boats by the surgeon, on his accustomed visit, to Sandy Key Hospital. Notwithstanding the fact that most of the sick walked from their beds to the Post Hospital, and no effort or pains on the part of the surgeon to isolate the disease were taken, owing to the belief in its miasmatic character, the germs or cause had not up to this time, September 12, viz: 25 days, reached either of the hospitals, if we may judge from the circumstance that not one of the many nurses, who waited upon the sick day and night and even slept in the same room, were stricken down with the fever.
The disease after extending into Company L, and to the prisoners' quarters, next made its appearance into Company I, located in the inner barracks, a building about three hundred feet long, thirty feet wide, and four stories high on the east side, running north and parallel with the Fort, and immediately in front of Company K and Company I, and distant about sixty feet.
I was called into this company on the morning of September 8, and found Sergeant Sheridan and a private that slept in the next bed ill with the fever. Sergeant Sheridan and the first sergeant of Company K were great friends, and when off duty were constantly in each other's quarters. Sheridan generally wore a heavy cloak during the showers of rain that were frequent at this period, and I feel satisfied that the poison was carried by the ferment set up in the cloak, or mechanically, by adhering formites, though it is possible for it to have been wafted across from Company K, the two beds in Company I being near the window facing that company. Then the fever gradually worked its way along through the whole company without a skip in regular succession as they slept.
At the northern extremity of the barracks two rooms were set apart, thirty feet square, as the Post Hospital. On the 7th we were necessitated by the increasing number of sick to provide other hospital quarters, and for convenience four casemates opposite on the ground tier, under Company L, were boarded up as a temporary hospital, with our kitchen and dispensary inter-mediate. On the 8th our hospital supply of beds and bedding gave out, and on the 9th we were compelled to bring the bed along with the patient into the hospital. Two days after the admission of the infected beds, our nurses began falling sick, three being attacked during the day and night of the 11th of September. Then the three laundresses, families who did the washing for the hospitals and separate quarters on the west side of the Fort, sixty or seventy yards apart, were all simultaneously attacked upon the first issue of soiled clothing - after our hospital became infected.
Then again, upon the breaking up of the Sand Key Hospital, and the return of the nurses to the Fort, they were all speedily stricken down with the fever upon their being placed on similar duty. These nurses had remained free from all disease up to their return to the Fort, although the majority of the cases whom they nursed at Sand Key died with the fever.
But the most remarkable spread of the disease occurred on the night of the 16th of September in Company M, which was quartered in the casemates immediately above the hospital and Company L, and notwithstanding the proximity up to this date, twenty-nine days since the epidemic began, had remained entirely exempt from the fever, owing no doubt to the fact that it laid behind the bastion, which, with the prevailing southeast wind, produced a downward or opposing current. However, on the morning of the above date, about nine o'clock, a small rain cloud common to that locality, arose to the south of the fort, which came up rapidly with a heavy wind, lasting about twenty minutes, and which blew directly from the hospital and Company L, toward Company M, and the night following every man went to bed in his usual health, yet between eleven and one o'clock nearly one-half of the company, or thirty men, were attacked with the most malignant form of the disease - beginning at the point nearest the hospitals and extending thirty beds without missing or skipping a single occupant.
It had been my custom to remain at the hospital every night until eleven o'clock to see that every patient received the medicine prescribed and was quiet. On this occasion I had not retired more than fifteen minutes before I was sent for by the sergeant of Company M to come to his quarters, that several of his men were sick. Feeling much fatigued, I did not attend the summons, but referred the messenger to Dr. Whitehurst and the steward of the hospital. At one o'clock the sergeant himself came down to my room and begged me for God's sake to get up, that one-half of his company were attacked with the fever, and that he did not know what to do with them, as the hospitals were already full. I went along with the sergeant, and found his statement fully correct, and the wildest alarm and confusion prevailing.
As the hospitals were already crowded, we concluded, for convenience, to enclose the six casemates nearest the regular hospitals, which was speedily executed with canvas, and in less than two hours all moved back and were quiet under comfortable treatment. The next night or two after, the balance of the company, in the order of their beds, were attacked with the disease without an exception.
The disease did not extend among the officers at headquarters until it had at first reached the negro prisoners, several of whom were employed by the officers as servants, and who were in the daily habit of carrying to and fro their blankets. The humble individual who now addresses you was not attacked until the 4th of October, forty-seven days after the beginning of the epidemic, though constantly at the bedside of the sick, and in the midst of the infected hospitals and quarters. One evening, at our usual supper hour, feeling much depressed and exhausted from the unaccustomed duties I went over to my mess, where I was besieged with many questions concerning the sick, and notwithstanding the solemnity of the occasion, a hearty laugh was frequently indulged at the expense of our ready wit, Edward Spangler.
The debilitating effects of the climate, added to the condition consequent upon the excitement, very much depressed me, and after finishing my bowl of coffee and slice of bread, I fell upon my rude cot to spend a few minutes of repose. The customary sea breeze at this hour had sprung up, and I was shortly lulled into sweet sleep. My faithful and ever solicitous roommate, Edward Spangler, who on former occasions had manifested so much concern when the least indisposition was complained of, seemed to anticipate my every want, was not unguarded at this time. As soon as he found me quiet, he closed the door and turned back several intruders, stating that the Doctor was feeling unwell, and had laid down to rest himself. In the course of an hour, he said, he will be through his nap, when he will return to the hospital, where all who desire can see him. Spangler made money by trafficking with the soldiers, and we are mainly indebted to him for something extra to the crude, unwholesome, and sometimes condemned Government ration that was issued to us. He was not generally select in his epithets toward those whom he disliked, yet if he saw them in suffering, it excited the liveliest sympathy, and he would do anything that laid in his power for their relief. At a later period he, in conjunction with Mr. Arnold, watched over me in my illness as attentively as if their own brother, and I owe my life to the unremitting care which they bestowed.
The reader, I am in hopes, will excuse this little digression from the subject - a tribute of thanks is due, and I know no more fitting place to give it expression. I may perhaps be doing injustice by omitting another name equally deserving of my esteem, Michael O'Loughlin. He, unfortunate young man, away from his family and friends, by whom he was most tenderly loved, fell a victim to the pestilence in spite of every effort on our part to save him. He had passed the first stage of the disease and was apparently convalescent, but, contrary to my earnest advice, he got out of bed a short time after I left in the morning, and was walking about the room looking over some periodicals the greater part of the day. In the evening, about five o'clock, a sudden collapse of the vital powers took place, which in thirty-six hours after terminated his life. He seemed all at once conscious of his impending fate, and the first warning I had of his condition was his exclamation, "Doctor, Doctor, you must tell my mother all!" He called then Edward Spangler, who was present, and extending his hand he said, "Good-by, Ned." These were his last words of consciousness. He fell back instantly into a profound stupor and for several minutes seemed lifeless; but by gently changing his position from side to side, and the use of stimulating and cold applications, we succeeded in restoring him to partial strength and recollection.
I never met with one more kind and forbearing, possessing a warm friendly disposition and a fine comprehensive intellect. I enjoyed greater ease in conversational intercourse with him than any of my prison associates. He was taken sick whilst my kind friend, Dr. D. W. Whitehurst of Key West, Florida, had charge of the Post; from him he received prompt medical attention from the beginning of his illness to his death.
The news had spread around through the garrison of the neat and comfortable appearance of the hospital and the improved condition of the sick, which had the effect to gain for me a reputation, and the confidence of the soldiers - all I could desire to insure success. It was not long before I discovered I could do more with nine cases out of ten by a few consoling and inspiring words, than with all the medicine known to me in the materia medica.