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Reports from the Division Hospital at Camp Poland

Contributed by Jeff Berry
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The following accounts of the Division Hospital at Camp Poland, Knoxville, Tennessee during the Spanish American War appeared in the Knoxville Journal and Tribune.

The Articles:

October 2, 1898:

There is no reason why today should not be one of rest at Camp Poland division hospital. There will be no regular religious service during the day, but the patients, 201 in number, will receive some special attention from those who wait on them and will no doubt appreciate it.

The new beds, mattresses and furniture that recently arrived are being placed in position and are proving of much benefit to the patients.

Within the next week it is predicted that everything needful for a first-class field hospital, will be in position

While red tape has no doubt had much to do with the arrival of needed supplies it is not believed to have been the cause of the death of any one.
It is expected that electric lights will be placed in every ward soon, which will be of great benefit.

The registry book is not consulted much any more by visitors, but it remains accessible.

That inspection of government mules every afternoon if proving an attractive feature to the men who handle them.

Private H.T. Mackey of the Sixth Virginia regiment (colored) was released yesterday.

The negro patients, while separate from the whites are given regular food and medicine the same as the pale faces.

Visitors should remember today that the hours in which they can see the sick are from 10 to 12 a.m. and from 2 to 4 p.m. 

October 2, 1898:

Now that it has been ordered from Washington that the regimental hospital shall be re-established , in connection with the division hospital, and that each regiment shall have the services of at least two surgeons, one of them being of the rank of major, much speculation is being indulged in as to where the extra surgeons shall come from. As is well known none of the regiments in Camp Poland, with the exception of the colored regiments, have the required number of surgeons. Seven surgeons of this division were sent to Cuba and Porto Rico, while the troops were at Chickamauga, and a number have been made brigade surgeons, or detailed to the division hospital. The Second Ohio, for instance, has at present none of its surgeons with the regiment, Captain McDonald, of the Fourth Tennessee, having been detailed as its regimental surgeon, while at the same time acting as brigade surgeon. The Thirty-First Michigan is in much the same fix as the Second Ohio, having none of its regular surgeons with it, a contract surgeon, Dr. Haze, acting in the capacity of regimental surgeon. It is very probable that when surgeons are assigned to the regiments so that the recent order may be out in force, or in other words, so that each regiment shall have at least two surgeons, a number of contract surgeons will be among the numbers.

It will be remembered, that when Secretary Alger was here he stated that no more surgeons could be commissioned without the consent of congress, but that if more surgeons were needed he would see to it that a sufficient number of contract surgeons would be furnished. From this it is believed that in a short time Camp Poland will have a number of contract surgeons assisting in caring for the sick.

October 3, 1898:

Major-Surgeon Hysell made a visit to the hospital yesterday and pronounced affairs in excellent condition. Some of he iron bed steads have been erected in ward A and few new tables have also been put in. This is the ward where the worst cases are, and by the recent addition of furniture, etc., they are given much better treatment.

Rev. W. A. Ayer, of Philadelphia, recently arrived to look after the Pennsylvania sick. There are but a few of the First Regiment who were too sick to depart with the others, and it is these men whom Rev. Ayers is looking after.

There was a unusually large number of visitors yesterday, many of them taking flowers and delicacies for the sick.

One patient in the hospital has seen service in Porto Rico. He is Otis Gregg, of the First Kentucky regiment, whose sick furlough directed him to Knoxville instead of Lexington.

Lieutenant Moody, of Second Ohio, regiment has succeeded Lieutenant Howard as quartermaster of the ambulance corps. He has entered upon his new work.

Patients in the convalescent wards had soup, roast beef, fried chicken, potatoes, peaches, lemonade, ice cream, cake, etc., yesterday for dinner. The swings through the grounds are proving a great benefit to the sick and are occupied nearly all the time.

The record yesterday was: Received, 2.  Discharged 4.  Remaining, 299.


JACOB FISHER, 25 years old, company D, Second Ohio. The remains were taken to the undertaking establishment of Hall & Donahue, where they will be kept until tonight and shipped to his home, Vanwert, Ohio.

FRANK J. DROESSLER, aged 26, company A, Sixth Ohio, home at Toledo. His remains were shipped home last night.

October 3, 1898:

Private J.D. Carleton, company L, Fourteenth Minnesota, who has been sick in the division hospital since his regiment left to be mustered out, is convalescent, and has returned to his home at Minneapolis.

Three Pennsylvania soldiers, who were in the division hospital at the time the regiment left Camp Poland, have been sent to their homes. They are: Harry S. Leamy, company C; John Simmons. Company B, and William Esher, company I. They all went to Philadelphia.

Private Luther Jessup, of the First Georgia, ahs been discharged from the division hospital and returned to his home at Cochran, Ga..

October 5, 1898:

Affairs at the hospital are moving along in a most satisfactory manner. While there are a few very sick men there, it is not believed that there will be any more deaths. Major Hysell was out yesterday afternoon, and made a close inspection of all the wards, and when he left for division headquarters made this expression: “I find that most of the men up there are doing well and two weeks should run us out. Affairs up there are conducted properly and I have no reason to complain.”

Major Baguley was asked in reference to the movement to establish a regimental hospital in the camp of the First West Virginia regiment. While this is his home regiment, he expressed himself as opposed to the movement, because he believed it was impossible to serve the sick of his command in a proper sanitary manner.

The record yesterday was:--Received 12, discharged 12, remaining 296; died, Ernest Waylett, Thirty-first Michigan, aged 25; James A.G. Reed, company E, First West Virginia, aged 22, home at Huntington. The remains of both men will be shipped home for burial.

Lieutenant Moody, of newly appointed quartermaster of the ambulance corps, assumes charge of his department today.

Every arrangement for the convenience and comfort of the sick has now been arranged and the parting statement of Major Hysell gave hope to many a waning heart.

Tonight about two dozen brave boys from the north, who volunteered to do or die for their country, will leave for their several homes.

October 5, 1898:

A number of soldiers who were left in the division hospital by the Fourteenth Minnesota when that regiment returned to be mustered out left last night for their homes, their condition having improved to such an extent that they were able to stand the journey. The following were in the party:--F.M. Bonham, company D, to Zumbrota; Jos. Coughlin, company I, to St. Paul; W.W. Kirby company G, to Duluth; Patrick Fahey, company D, to Mazeppa; Otto Premo, company C, to Warres, Wis.; Albert Hunstable, company D, To Maxwell, Wis.

October 6, 1898:

The crisp October breezes do not cause much worry to the surgeons at division hospital. New life is apparently infused into the patients and yesterday the sunshine, following the rain of Monday, resulted in the improvement of several men. There are but few critical cases at present and hopes are entertained that there will be but few if any more deaths. Major-Surgeon Hysell, who visited the hospital yesterday, said that he thought that within two weeks the fever would have run its course and the worst would be passed.

Everything needed for a first-class field hospital has been done and while about all supplies are here, they have not all been put in position. It was intended to put electric lights in the tents, but Major Baguley has about abandoned the scheme.

Fourteen negro patients are all doing well, with the exception of two who are very sick.

That part of the grounds occupied by the ambulance corps had been cleared off and put in excellent sanitary condition.

The record yesterday was: Received 8; discharged in furlough, 21; Ohio and Michigan sick, remaining 283; deaths, none.

October 6, 1898:

Another order published by the war department on last Monday, concerns Camp Poland. The order is to the effect that Major Adair S. Polhemus, brigade-surgeon, will proceed to Camp Poland and report to the commander of that camp for assignment to duty.

October 7, 1898:

“Snatched from the jaws of death” is not a very eloquent expression, as patents medicine testimonials have worn it threadbare, such might be used in reference to the case of Private A.J. McAfee, of company F, First Georgia. A month ago he became an inmate of the division hospital and grew worse from the start. Just about the time the fever reached its climax, his brother, Dr. J.C. McAfee, of Macon, arrived and went directly to his cot. For a week young McAfee was in a very critical condition and no one thought he would recover, His brother took the case in person and with the assistance of medical aid and help furnished by the hospital he succeeded in nursing the sick soldier back to strength. The two left last night for their home and it was difficult to tell which appeared the happiest.

The record yesterday was: Received, 15; discharged, 4; remaining, 278; died, none. The number of inmates is gradually declining and it is believed by the surgeons that the worst is over. About everything needful for the comfort and treatment of the patients has been done in the way of receiving supplies, furniture, etc.

A few valuable microscopical instruments were recently in a consignment of supplies from St. Louis; Major Myers yesterday had some of them out making important tests with them.

Every swing in the park is used daily by the convalescents.

Private Sanders, of the First West Virginia regiment, who had his collarbone fractured by falling from a street car on Wednesday night, was placed in the surgical ward. He was resting easily yesterday.

The mule corral has been scattered as a sanitary precaution.

An addition is being erected to the boarding house conducted by a colored family on the grounds.

Several men will probably be given furloughs during the next few days.

October 8, 1898:

The shower yesterday afternoon freshened the air and made the patients feel better.

The report that the Second division troops would be sent further south does not indicate that the hospital will be moved.  It would be kept until all the sick are well enough to return to their regiments or be furloughed.

The work of putting the hospital in first-class shape in all its departments is going steadily on. A force was employed yesterday in putting ice chests near the diet kitchen, something that has been needed some time

An unusual amount of activity about the grounds yesterday was caused by a number of patients getting ready to leave on furloughs for their homes throughout the country. The following went out last night be special sleepers to Cincinnati, at which place they will take different roads for their homes:

A.J. McAfee, company F, First Georgia, to Macon
Walter Kincaid, company K, First West Virginia, to Hawks Nest
Jeff L. Seedle, company I, Second Ohio, to Ridgeway
Thomas Kennef, company K, First West Virginia, to Charleston
Chris Peterson, company H, fourteenth Minnesota, to Sacred Heart
Ed L. Shelby, company A, 158th Indiana,, to Greenfield
George E. Hughes, company I, First West Virginia, to Hancock
Corporal Wm. McAlexander, member of hospital corps, to New York City
Murrell Redman, company F, sixth Ohio, to Napoleon
Webb Schuyler, company I, Second Ohio, to Kenton
J.S. Krebser, company C, Sixth Ohio, to Toledo
Chas H. Price, company D, Second Ohio to Van Wert
James C. Prince, company C, First West Virginia, to Hinton
Gordon Oliver, company I, Second Ohio, to Kenton
Huston Peters, company K, First West Virginia, to Charleston
Frank McClure, company F, Second Ohio, to Belle Center
Wm. H. Perault, company H, First West Virginia, to Dunkirk, N.Y.
E.L. Vandergriff, Second division hospital, to Franklin, Ind.
Wm. Taylor, company I, Second Ohio, to Belle Center
J. Mathews, company M, First West Virginia, to Belton
Henry W. Mercer, company D, to Fairmount
A.N. Carathers, company D, to Gaston
L.G. Campbell, company B, Fourteenth Minnesota, to Minneapolis
Gay McDonald, company G, Second Ohio, to Mt. Victory
E.E. Pack, company G, First West Virginia, to Barnesville, Ohio
L.E. Ensign, company E, Second Ohio, to Bryan
Ed. C. Grey, company I, Thirty-first Michigan, to Fergus Falls
August Anderson, company L, Fourteenth Minnesota, to Crookston
W.A. Price, company A, Second Ohio, to Findley.
The record at the hospital yesterday was as follows: Received 5; discharged, 34: remaining,, 265; deaths, none.

October 9, 1898:

The record at division hospital yesterday was as follows: Received, 11; released, 3; remaining 271; no deaths. The number of inmates is gradually decreased and it is thought that the worst is over and that there will be but few more deaths if any.

No one was furloughed yesterday, the men being released, going back to their regiments. It is expected that several more patients will be able to travel during this week and they will be sent home.

A few new tents were erected yesterday for the use of men belonging to the nursing corps. These will relieve the heretofore somewhat crowded sleeping facilities of the hospital.

Chaplain Arbaugh, of the Sixth Ohio regiment, made a visit yesterday to the hospital. He has been making daily calls for the past few weeks and takes a deep personal interest in all the sick from his regiment. Many a weak body and a “nostalgia” affected heart has he been instrumental in relieving.

The new crematory recently finished is in constant use. An aged lady not long since heard one surgeon tell another that the crematory was working nicely. “That’s so good, for the poor sick soldiers can have pure butter made for them right here,” ejaculated the elderly visitor.

Some of the Virginia detail of colored guards recently objected to a dinner composed of chipped beef, light bread, peas, potatoes, butter, peas. etc., that formed the menu. “We will send you to the hotel next,” remarked one of the cooks. “Give ‘em peanut hull soup and fat meat is what they need,” chimed in a North Carolina colored detail, and the “no like you now how” feeling between the two negro regiments was slightly augmented.

The registry book has been about abandoned, as but few people sign now. Since the hospital opened on August 29th there have been nearly three thousand visitors many of them form distant states.

October 10, 1898:

The record at division hospital was as follows: Received 2; released 37; remaining 273; no deaths. This is surely a satisfactory condition. It has been a week since there was a death, and there are but few very serious cases in any of the wards. The re-arrangement of the different wards, and placing in them of all modern supplies for the handling of the sick have done much to ward aiding the men to recover and perhaps diminished the death rate.
Nearly one hundred men during the past two weeks have been sent home on furloughs, having recovered sufficiently to travel. This does not indicate that the hospital will be closed when the troops leave Camp Poland, but shows that the present system of treatment is effective. There was the usual number of visitors yesterday, most of them taking flowers or delicacies for the patients.

There are a score or more of people who have sick relatives in the hospital, and who reside in the north, here visiting. They besides looking after the condition of their kin also look carefully over Knoxville and few of them have almost decided to locate here.

Miss Irwin, a trained nurse, who recently accompanied Mrs. Hemphill, wife of Quartermaster Hemphill, and her sick son to South Carolina, has returned and is again on duty at the hospital.

October 10, 1898:

A few facts were learned about furloughs and sick leaves which will be of interest to a large number of people, both soldiers and civilians. Under general article No. 114, which is in regard to sick leaves, it is stated that any sick soldier, in order to get transportation, which is given to him, by the department, must have the request signed by the surgeon in charge. When this is done, the patient will be sent to any part of the country at the expense of the war department. When the time of the sick leave has expired the soldier, if he is not strong enough to return to his duties, can, if he secures the signature of a reputable physician to his request, have his time expanded. When his time is up and he is to go back to his command, he is required to report to the nearest army post in person or by letter and transportation will be issued him. If however, he is one day late after his time is out, in reporting to the nearest post, he is debarred from receiving transportation and had to, himself; bear the expense of going back to his command.

A number of surgeons would do well to examine this order before advising the soldiers desiring leave, as it does not seem to be generally understood.

October 11, 1898:

No day for weeks had proved more beneficial to the inmates of the division hospital than yesterday. While there was one death, the large majority or the patients were encouraged by the bright sunshine and cooling breezes. Every department of the work progresses in a systematic manner and not counting the question “when will we be paid off?” the conversation is of the usual kind.

Major Baguley was asked yesterday when the construction of barracks would begin for the accommodation of the sick in cooler weather. He replied that it was doubtful now as to whether any would be built, as there was a probability of the soldiers going away. If this occurs then the sick will decrease at the hospital and it would be only a few weeks before all could be discharged and the place closed.

The record yesterday was Received 7, released 3; remaining 275.

Died- R. J. Kistner, company D, Sixth Ohio, aged twenty-one, home Fostoria, Relatives were notified yesterday afternoon and the remains will probably be shipped home today for burial. Deceased was a victim of fever.

D. A. Lynch in the clerical department has been indisposed for a day or two.

Among those received yesterday was R.A. Smith, company L, of the Seventh regular infantry. He was not feeling well and besides receiving medical attention will get a supply of winter clothing, etc.

Lieutenant Kreider is expected to return during this week. There were several lady visitors yesterday.

October 11, 1898:

Now that the regimental hospitals have been established, a letter was received by the chief quartermaster yesterday, regarding what the regiments are to be allowed in the way of supplies. The letter states that besides the chief surgeon, assistant surgeon, and three hospital stewards allowed the regiments, they can also have one acting hospital steward, six privates of hospital corps as attendants, one private of hospital corps as cook, three privates of hospital corps as ambulance drivers, two privates of hospital corps as wagon drivers. If enlisted men cannot be obtained civilians are to be furnished by the quartermaster’s department....

Each regiment is also allowed: Four hospital tents, two as wards, one as dispensary and one as dining room for officers; three common tents for privates, one common tent for non-commissioned officers; one common tent for cook tent, one tent for latrine.

Regimental surgeons are to be notified at once and personal inspection is to be made with the view of ascertaining deficits.

Chief Surgeon of the Army Greenleaf will visit the camp in a short while and will visit each regiment, giving each surgeon a chance of consulting him about any matter that is in doubt....

Major Hysell, division surgeon, received orders to report to the department at Washington and left Sunday for that place. He appeared yesterday before the war department investigation board, which is in session there, in order to tell what he knew about health matters while stationed at Chickamauga. He will return about the last of this week.

October 12, 1898:

The record at the division hospital yesterday was: Received 6, released 1, remaining 275, died none.

The sunshine yesterday morning put several of the convalescents on their feet and gave them renewed hope. The cloudy weather of the afternoon did not give then the blues for they had secured such a start on the road to recovery that they did not worry about a dark sky.

A score or more of men who have recovered sufficiently to travel will probably leave tonight for their homes throughout the north. They will be provided with sleeping cars berths as far as Cincinnati and given comfortable transportation when they separate at that place.

The arrival yesterday of a detail from the Sixth Ohio camp  of a half dozen men for the ambulance corps will greatly facilitate work in that department. The different tent wards have been put in condition for chilly weather and when it gets cooler stoves will be put in, if needed.

October 12, 1898:

The following [Sixth Ohio men] have been detailed as members of the ambulance corps at the division hospital: George Mouk, Co. C: Private Spaulding, Co H; Private Redbower, Co H; H. Waggonner, Co. D; Henry Duncan, Co. G; John A Bleker, Co. A.

October 12, 1898:

J. B. Hallwood, a contract surgeon, of New York, has arrived and been assigned to duty. He will assist Surgeon Nesbitt in conducting the new regimental hospital when the ordered supplies arrive. The hospital has no inmate now.

October 13, 1898:

Extra blankets are in demand at the hospital these nights, but thus far it has not been cool enough to cause any suffering among the patients. Provisions have been made for their comfort and care during cool weather and but little need be feared that there will be much suffering when it gets colder.

The record yesterday was: Received 3, including two negro patients from the Third North Carolina regiment; discharged, 20; remaining, 269; deaths none. This is a smaller number than has been in the hospital for nearly a month and the list continues to decrease.

A supply of overcoats and clothing for winter wear was received at corps headquarters yesterday. A part of this has been issued. The overcoats are of good material and make.

Orderly Oscar Branat is too sick for duty.

N.C. Laidecker, of the ambulance corps has received his discharge and goes to Greencastle, Ind.

G.E. Reed, of the signal corps has received a furlough and will spend his time at South Bridge, Mass.

There were more lady visitors yesterday than for many days. Most of them left either delicacies or flowers.

The only Tennessee soldier in the hospital is Chas. C. Giles, of the Third Tennessee regiments band. Yesterday he was returning from his home in Greene county to his regiment at Anniston and when he reached Knoxville was suffering with a severe case of spinal meningitis. He was taken to the hospital, where he will remain until he is improved.

The following men left last night on furloughs going to their home towns;

Sergeant Thomas Daywalt, company A; J. Davis, company D, of First West Virginia regiment

J.K. Williamson, company M; John Patton, company M; Casla Maynard, Lyman Habbell, company H; Wm. Bauer, company B; Wm. Barbee, company E; Louis Jones, company D, of Sixth Ohio regiment

F.B. Thomas, company C; A.V. Larich, company B; Edwin Young, company B; John Farling, company A, of the Second Ohio regiment
Carwin Post amd N.C. Laidecker, of the hospital ambulance corps.

December 4, 1898:

Everything was quiet about this place all day yesterday and while the weather was fine little activity was observed. A report gained currency during the day that a hospital train would reach the city today and take most of the patients to Fort Myer hospital near Washington. This was not confirmed, as the railroad officials know nothing of such train.

The corpsmen employed here will probably be paid off on Monday afternoon after the regiments are paid. If not then, they will get heir money early Tuesday morning.

There remain in the hospital eighty-seven patients few of them being in serious condition, however.

Homer F. Brower of company H, Sixth Ohio regiment, home at Toledo, died yesterday morning from fever. He was almost well at one time but suffered a relapse and never rallied. His parents, who have been here a few days, left last nigh with the remains for home, where the burial will take place. A detail from company H went to the depot with the body.

The recent police work has placed the hospital grounds in excellent sanitary condition and it is the intention to keep them that way.


TheThe Journal and Tribune (Knoxville, TN), October 3, 1898; October 5, 1898; October 6, 1898; October 7, 1898; October 8, 1898; October 9, 1898; October 12, 1898; October 13, 1898; December 4, 1898 - Contributed by Jeff Berry

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