Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Decmeber 19, 1863 (Saturday): Suffering In Camp

Major General GEORGE H. THOMAS,
Commanding Department of the Cumberland:
    GENERAL: The sufferings and privations now being undergone by our troops are most cruel, I assure you. We have been now nearly a month without tents and clothing, and from the limited quantity of our transportation-only one wagon to a regiment-and being obliged to live upon the country, our rations have been very irregular and limited.
    We are now bivouacking at this place, 22 miles east of Knoxville, in the mud and rain, and many of the command are falling sick with pneumonia, diarrhea, &c., Our officers are destitute of clothing and cooking utensils, being unable to procure them at Knoxville. A small supply of clothing and shoes has arrived, about one-third of what is needed.
    The stock of medicines and stationery in Knoxville is entirely exhausted. Our books an records having been left behind, we are unable to make any returns. If it is determined that we remain here this winter, I respectfully request that the First Division of this corps be sent up to join us, and with them can be sent our transportation, baggage, camp and garrison equipage, to which they can act as escort.
    I am, general, very respectfully,

    Major-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 31, Part 3, Page 448.

In some ways winter quarters were worse for the health of men than active campaigning.  Cold temperatures, inadequate housing, insufficient sanitation, and the enclosing so many men in relatively small space made conditions ripe for suffering. General Granger, quoted here, was a career soldier who would die still in active service in 1876 on the western plains.

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