Monday, December 13, 2010

Rebel Sympathies in Federal Hospitals – A Stinging Rebuke

We have had repeated occasion to notice the fact that the wounded rebels were better treated by our medical agents than the troops who have fallen in a loyal cause.  The Louisville Journal now takes up the subject, with especial reference to the hospitals in that city, and handles the abuse with indignant eloquence.  It says

With pain and deep regret we are impelled to make representations upon the management of our city hospitals, in doing which we are influenced by an overwhelming sense of duty.  On the battle-field of Shiloh, after the dreadful carnage had ended, all who were discovered on the field were recognized as brothers of the great human family, and all received the same care, attention and comforts. – It was most undoubtedly the intention of all who aided to bring the sick and wounded here, that the same impartiality should be exercised after their arrival, but such has not been the case.  The bedsides of wounded rebels are crowded with delicacies – wines, jellies and flowers – in the same ward room where lay our own soldiers deprived of everything but the mere necessaries of life and constantly exposed to a view of the profuseness with which favors are showered upon the others.

Within a week past there has been a great change of nurses and other assistants in the hospital, including Ward-master Clark.  This Mr. Clark, about two weeks since, told one of our lady informants that there would have to be a change in the management, for the loyal nurses and attendants could not bear to see the preference given to disloyal prisoners; that although there was quite a superabundance of sheets, pillow cases and bandages in the establishment, he could not procure these articles to make the necessary changes for our own sick and wounded soldiers, many of whom were suffering from wounds which had become offensive, and necessarily demanded constant change of linen, both for the recovery of the patient and the promotion of general cleanliness in the hospital.

The question now is, what can be done to remedy these infamous abuses, and how shall we prevent our hospitals from being converted into hotbeds of treason, where rebels are pampered with all the luxuries of the land, and comforted by words of cheer and sympathy by those who taunt and deride and insult the loyal sick and wounded on their cots of pain in the same ward?  Some way [must] be devised, and we call most urgently upon the medical directors, sanitary commissioners, and surgeons generally for the remedy.  If the nuisance, the foul and pestilent nuisance, is not abated, we shall deem it our duty to appeal to our sister States to send their special agents here and remove their respective sick and wounded from a place where insult and degradation await them.  If Louisville cannot be cleaned from the leprosy of secession in its hospital wards, let our city rest under the stigma forever, and let all shun her as they pass and cry, “Room for the leper!” that she may be avoided and despised.

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, May 17, 1862, p. 3

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