Testimony of Surgeon G. B. Parker, in charge of United States Army General Hospital, Division No. 2, Annapolis, Maryland. Taken at the Hospital, May 31st, 1864.
ALL THE COMMISSIONERS PRESENT.
Surgeon G. B. PARKER, sworn and examined: —
I have been in charge of this hospital one year. During this time I have received a large number of prisoners in exchange. Their condition has been very low, very feeble, since last June. The large proportion of the cases received here are marked “Debilitas.” It was not specific disease with them; where it was, it was coupled with debility.
The majority of the diseased cases were diarrhśa caused by bad diet — of insufficient and bad quality; they have resulted from the want of variety of diet. This will produce scurvy.
I have seen an hundred of the rations served to the men. I do not consider the rations I have seen sufficient for the support of life for any long time.
We give our men twenty ounces of beef on a march, per day, and twenty-two ounces of bread. Fourteen ounces of meat and ten ounces of bread will keep any man from starving; less than twelve ounces of bread and ten ounces of meat per diem would produce disease, and, if long continued, would fail to keep life up to the standard in a great majority of men. Lower than this would end in debility and decline; in proportion as you vary a man's diet, so is his general health.
The majority of the men did walk from the landing here. We did not receive the worst cases. In the main, the diseases were produced by insufficient and a bad quality of diet. Their stomachs were not able to retain a sufficient quantity of solid food when the men first got here. I was led to the belief that the diarrhśa was produced by bad diet.
I found nutrition was the most successful treatment.
Have had cases of frost bite here resulting in mortification of the ends of the toes. Those were cases from Richmond — eight or ten cases.
Though the men would be strong enough to walk from the dock up here, at the same time they were in that debilitated condition that a slight change of air would cause congestion of the lungs, and death. Stimulants and tonics are largely used.
There were a good many cases of scurvy. In the majority of cases of diarrhśa, there would be scorbutic symptoms. I had at one time eight returned prisoners who lost their teeth. I suppose this was owing to the treatment these men had received, and their diet.
At the hospital we give each man twenty ounces of bread per day, and one pound of meat, including bone; could not give the percentage of bone; we also give vegetables. In the winter we give cabbage, potatoes, rice and beans, molasses, tea, butter. A healthy soldier would get no butter. Twelve ounces of meat and twelve ounces of bread per day, rejecting the other articles, would be insufficient to preserve good health.
G. B. PARKER.
Sworn to and subscribed before me,
May 3lst, 1864.
D. P. BROWN, JR.,
United States Commissioner.