Press enter after choosing selection

Their Heads Down

Their Heads Down image
Parent Issue
Day
19
Month
May
Year
1899
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

Id view of the nearby horne-coming of Coinpauy A, perhapa ït would not come ainiss for me to say a word aboat the boys. I saw a greut deal of soldier life at Camp Thomas, Chickamanga, aud know wbat hardships the boys had to endure even iu camp. 1 had a n amber of Michigan meu under my care - from Co. 's C, D, and G - as well as many from other states, and secured farlongbs for a number of convalescent soldiers that coald be spent on the mountain, that they might better recover from the malaria of the valley. So I know whereof I ani speaking. The U. S. surgeon general sent out repeated warnings as to how the health of the troops might best be maintaiued bnt his warnings were largely disregarded. The soil was allowed to become uompletely infiltrated with garbage and excreta. The surnmer rains (whicb were frequent last snminer, though unUsual for that climate) washed the foul and decomposing matter into the creeks and springs from which the drinking water was taken. The wonder was, not that so many were ill, but tbat so many escaped. A f urnace in which to burn all refuse trom the camps and a distilling plant to furnish good drinking water would have saved nine-tenths of the sickness, and could have been as easily erected and maintained as the huge bakery, bath house, etc, were which were operated for months on the ground. A great deal of stress was laid on the anto-production of illuess by ttie consumption of quantities of spirituous liquors on the part of the men. Many offlcers who neglected ■ their duty and failed to care for the uien under them, threw the blamt: of the great extensión of disease upon the men who drank. When the illness became more pronouuced, and no proper care was given the men, and many actually died of neglect, then the whole army bscame panic stricken. The terror in the men's hearts increased as they saw their comrades die practically uncared for, and the death roll grow rapidly larger, with the dreadful rules and regnlations and red tape tbat hiudered all good intentious, and made bad matters worse, and no knowing whose turn would come next. In this most trying time, the 31st Michigan men bore themselves quietly and brav6ly, and their offlcers looked after their men kindly. The whole regiment had gained a good reputation among its neighbor camps for steady hahits aud orderly bearing. Out of tbe whole 1,000 men bnt oue men needed punishment for drnnkenness all through the summer. The canteen erected for the benefit of tho Michigan men received little encoaragement until the strong liqours were replaced by "soft drinks. " Tliis no doubt had something to do with tbe entire regiment presenting a quite good health record, es comparad with otner regiments. But good habits did not prevent death from stalking in ;heir midst, for hygienic laws had been broken. The men I saw from Michigan unïformly spoke of what a good Colonel Gardeuer was, what a good captain Co. A had, and whac a nice set of boys Co. A spemed to be. So the people at lome should not fail to appreciate the good record their boys made in Camp Thomas. By the way, no other X. M. C. A. tent was better supplied nor so extensively used as that of the 31st Michigan. Then when the boys went to Knoxville they won the esteem of the citizens there, and they should not fail of recognition on their return home. In closing, to show how army regulations sometimes opérate, let me cite an instance occurring with an Illinois cavalry ambulance corp. The eiitire regiment spent a day or two on Lookout Mt. taking witn it all its sick horses and men. A march of four or ive miles across the country and another four miles up the mountain side was snfficient in that southern sun ,o naake the sick ones worse. On re;arning to camp, the ambulance men sut the siackest man into the ambulance head first according to rule. A civihan seeing that this would necessitate the invaiid being carried down the mountain side head downward, remonstrated first with tbe men, then with the captain, then the colonel, but to no effect, for the regulations could not be changed without weeks of appeal to Washington. So the poor man rode down hill four miles head first, and when they reached the bottom the man was dead. In curious contrast to this care of a man, several horses (3) which had been lamed by draggiDg cannon up the mountain, were left ;hore till recovery, witb seven men detailed to feed and care for them.