Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The report of the Iowa Sanitary Commission . . .

. . . has just been issued in a neat pamphlet.  Of the whole Iowa force in the field 2,000 are on the sick list, with an average of 80 sick to each regiment, and this is deemed below the actual average.  The report pertinently says:

The U. S. Commission keeps “a reserve stock” at Washington ‘for special emergencies such as a general engagement or an epidemic.’  The Western division of the army is exposed to the one of these, if not the other.  When a battle on the Potomac was first expected – and there might be at any moment five or ten thousand soldiers requiring instant shelter and treatment, and in case of victory, as many wounded rebels besides, for whom the Government would be bound to provide with tenderness and humanity – ‘there was not at Washington a reserve of hospital stores or unoccupied beds for three hundred additional patients.’  We are in a similar case at St. Louis now, and St. Louis sustains the same relation to our Western army that Washington does to the Eastern.  We ought to collect a reserve of hospital stores at St. Louis.  Where shall they be had?  The long delay to strike has been favorable to sanitary precautions and preparations but deplorably unfavorable to the health of the soldier himself, and it has given us no such gain on actual sickness and suffering as fits us to meet great and sudden increase.  ‘In some modern battles one-third the whole number has been wounded.’  It would take us a long time at the present rate of supply to accumulate hospital stores for even three thousand sick and wounded Iowa soldiers.

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, February 8, 1862, p. 2

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