Today in History:

87 Series I Volume XX-II Serial 30 - Murfreesborough Part II


The trustees, though expressing no dissatisfaction with Wilder's house, saw fit not to occupy it, but removed the pupils to a house in the country, which they had occupied before the erection of the present building, and which had then accommodated a larger number than they now have.

The 21 pupils having been removed, preparations were made for the reception of our sick and wounded, and about 300 of them were comfortably provided for in the asylum building, to which they had been taken, when a telegraphic order was received from the Secretary of War, through General Wright, disapproving the use of the asylum as a hospital, while the Marine Hospital and the houses of secessionists in the rebel army could be had for the purpose, and directing the discontinuance of its use for such purpose.

The unfitness of the Marine Hospital here for its intended use is notorious. Surgeons Murray and Perin, U. S. Army, and myself had each, at different times, examined it with reference to its use as a military hospital, and all had independently come to the same conclusion with respect to it. One of the trustees of the asylum (who is, I regret to say, a physician) had, however, loudly and often proclaimed its superiority to the asylum, and its capacity to accommodate a far greater number of patients than it will safely hold, thus raising a professional medico-military question upon the judgment of three successive medical directors.

Of the grounds of my own rejection of the Marine Hospital, I will only say that, on my visit some months ago, the latrines and cess-pools were in so abominable a condition that their odor was insufferable through a great part of the house, and that, even in its best estate, it could not safely hold more than 100 patients. Lest my opinion should appear to be biased, I subjoin a description of the building, written nearly a year ago, by an architect, Mr. Whitestone. The description applies equally well to its state.

The extreme inconvenience and expense, not to say the impossibility, of scattering our mass of sick in small squads, such as private residences can receive, the lack of physicians and stewards enough to attend each squad, the unavoidable delay and cost with would be met in providing and fitting up so many small establishments, will be so obvious to you that their mere mention is sufficient to show that the extensive use of secessionists' houses is a practical absurdity.

Believing, from the similarity of language in the Secretary's order to that of arguments used here, that the order was based on an ex parte statement of a professional question, I send to you this report, respectfully requesting that it be submitted to the Secretary of War, whom I desire to put in possession of the following facts, one or two of which I believe to have been carefully concealed:

1st. There were in the asylum when it was seized only 21 pupils.

2nd. Ample provision was made for these pupils and not used by the trustees.

3rd. The building will fairly accommodate more than 350 sick soldiers.

4th. The Marine Hospital is unfit for use as a hospital, and, even if put in good order, would not hold 100 men.

5th. There are now in the asylum 330 patients, 25 or 30 of them with typhoid fever, to most of which latter removal would probably be fatal.

6th. It is impossible to provide proper accommodation for those sick elsewhere in this vicinity.

The order of the Secretary seems to be predicated on the supposition that the Marine Hospital can be obtained for the purpose. On this order, though against my professional judgment, above indicated, I applied for the use of the Marine Hospital, and was met by the protest