Richmond Enquirer, 9/26/1862

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From the Richmond Enquirer, 9/26/1862, p. 1, c. 4


THURSDAY, September 25th, 1862.


The Senate met at 11 o’clock, A. M., the President, Mr. STEPHENS, in the Chair.

[Several items of minor matters discussed and not transcribed.]


On motion of Mr. Simms, of Kentucky, the hospital bill was taken up.

Mr. MAXWELL moved to strike out the passage requiring railroad and canal agents to expedite the transportation of supplies for the hospitals.

Mr. SEMMES moved to insert the word “request” in lieu of “require.” Rejected.

Mr. YANCEY favored the motion. He thought no right existed, under the Constitution, to seize private property for public uses without compensation.

Mr. PHELAN urged the necessity of requiring the agents to carry the articles specified in the bill. Large quantities of hospital stores had been spoiled and wasted through the culpable negligence of the agents; and he wanted them to be positively required to do their duty.

The question as to the power of Congress to seize the railroads, or to interfere with their operations, was discussed at some length.

Messrs. OLDHAM and HAYNES contended against the power of Congress to thus interfere, and Messrs. SEMMES, PHELAN, SIMMS and BURNETT asserted not only the existence of such power, but urged the great necessity of its exercise in the case under consideration to reform an existing and crying evil.

The amendment was disagreed to.

Mr. BURNETT presented the following as a substitute:

That the Secretary of War is hereby authorized and directed to make a contract with the several railroad companies and lines of boats for the speediest practicable transportation of all supplies purchased for the use of the hospitals by agents appointed for that purpose, or donated by individuals, societies or States.

Mr. ORR moved to amend the section restricting the number of nurses to each patient so as to leave it to the discretion of the surgeon.

Mr. SEMMES, of La., said the report and bill submitted by the Senator from Kentucky, (Mr. SIMMS,) as Chairman of the Select Committee, demonstrated that great and earnest attention had been given to the subject by the committee, and he most heartily approved of the measures of reform in our hospital system recommended in the report and embraced in the bill under consideration.

The report presents many valuable and interesting statistical facts, showing the superiority of female nurses as compared with males. In the Clopton Hospital, conducted by Mrs. Clopton, the mortality was only two per cent of the whole number of inmates received. In the St. Francis De Sales, conducted by the Sisters of Charity, with nine hundred patients, three per cent. – At the Louisiana Hospital, conducted by the Sisters, six per cent. At the Ladies Hospital, Petersburg, four and a half per cent.

Now, said Mr. SEMMES, take the hospitals superintended by the males. In the General Hospital No. 2, ten percent; No. 13, fourteen per cent; No. 9 twelve per cent; No. 5, thirteen per cent; No. 23, twelve per cent, and the balance eight, nine and ten per cent – except the Winder Hospital – and it is a remarkable exception, where, out of 22,874 patients, there has only been a mortality of six per cent. I would like to know who is the surgeon of that hospital.

Mr. SIMMS, of Ky., responded that Dr. Lane is the Chief Surgeon in charge. There are five divisions in Winder Hospital, each being under the immediate charge of a Surgeon and two Assistant Surgeons. Only one of these divisions is visited, and, to a great extent managed and superintended by ladies. This division will furnish an additional argument for the introduction of female attendants in your hospitals. The mortality list in the division being comparatively small.

Mr. SEMMES – Where males have charge the mortality averages ten per cent., where females manage it is only five per cent. I will not agree to limit the class of persons who can effect such a saving of life as this.

Mr. MITCHELL said one nurse was not sufficient for ten patients, and his experience as a Surgeon justified him in making the assertion. The number employed should be left to the discretion of the Surgeon in charge.

The motion of Mr. ORR was agreed to.

On motion of Mr. BURNETT, the clause fixing the salary of nurses was amended so as to read, “not to exceed,” &c.

Mr. SIMMS offered the following additional section to the bill:

Sec. 7. That the Secretary of War is hereby authorized, in such way and manner as he may deem best, and under such rules and regulations as he may prescribe, to enter into and perfect some suitable arrangement with the different railroad companies, their officers and authorized agents, whereby seats in one or more cars of each railroad train, as the necessities of the case may be, shall be reserved for the use of the sick and wounded soldiers who may desire transportation on any such railroad, that no person not sick or wounded, and not an attendant upon the sick and wounded, shall be permitted to enter any such car or cars so reserved until the sick or wounded, and their attendants, shall first have obtained seats; and also shall perfect some arrangements with the said railroad companies, and their officers and agents, whereby all conductors having in charge any such trains shall be required to provide for the use of the sick and wounded I the cars so reserved a sufficient quantity of pure water.

Sec. 8. That all Surgeons and Assistant Surgeons in charge of hospitals, having in his or their charge any sick or wounded soldiers deserving transportation as aforesaid, shall, in all cases, detail some competent person, acting under his or their authority, whose duty it shall be to accompany all such sick and wounded to the depot of any such railroad, to see that all such are properly cared for, and that they obtain seats on said car or cars so reserved. Adopted.

On motion of Mr. SIMMS, of Ky., the bill was ordered to be sent immediately to the House for its concurrence.

The bill then passed.

The bill as amended with the 7th and 8th sections appended as above quoted is as follows:

Section 1. The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That the commutation value of rations of sick and disabled soldiers in the hospitals of the Confederate States is hereby fixed at one dollar, instead of the commutation now allowed by law, which shall constitute the hospital fund, and be held by the commissary and be paid over by him from time to time to the surgeon or assistant surgeon in charge of the hospital in which the soldier, whose ration was commuted, is an inmate, upon the said surgeon or assistant surgeon’s requisition, made in writing, when necessary to purchase supplies for said hospital: Provided, however, when said fund for any one hospital shall increase over and above the monthly expenditures of the same to an amount exceeding the sum of five thousand dollars, the said commissary shall be required to deposit the said excess over and above the said five thousand dollars in the Treasury of the Confederate States, or such other place of deposit where Government moneys are ordered to be kept; which said deposits, when so made, shall be passed to the credit of the said Confederate States, and be liable to draft as other public moneys are; and all such funds shall be accounted for by the said commissary in his monthly report and abstract as now required by law; And provided further, That all surgeons and assistant surgeons who shall receive from the said commissary any part of said hospital fund, to be expended for the use of hospitals, shall be held liable for a faithful application of it, and in a weekly account and abstract to be made out and forwarded to the office of the surgeon general, to be verified in every instance by vouchers, shall show what disposition has been made of it, which account, abstract and accompanying vouchers shall be placed on file.

Sec. 2. That the Secretary of War, is hereby authorized and directed to make a contract with the several railroad companies and lines of boats for the speediest practicable transportation of all supplies purchased for the use of the hospitals by agents appointed for that purpose, or donated by individuals, societies or States, and it shall be lawful for the Quartermaster General to furnish general transportation tickets to such agents, upon all railroad trains and canal boats, when engaged in the actual service of said hospitals, upon the request of the said surgeon or assistant Surgeon.

Sec. 3. That there shall be allowed to each hospital of the Confederate States, suits of clothing, consisting of shirts, pantaloons and drawers, equal to the number of beds in the same, for the use of the sick while in the hospitals, when so ordered by the Surgeon or Assistant Surgeon in charge, which said clothing shall be drawn upon the written requisition of said Surgeon or Assistant Surgeon, and shall be receipted for and kept as hospital clothing, and be accounted for by him as other public property.

Sec. 4. That there be allowed to each hospital, with rations and suitable places of lodging the following matrons and female nurses and attendants, viz; Two matrons, to be known and designated as hospital matrons in chief at a salary not to exceed forty dollars per month each, whose general duties shall be to exercise a superintendence over the entire domestic economy of the hospital , to take charge of such delicacies as may be provided for the sick; to apportion them out as required, to see that the food or diet is properly prepared, and all such other duties as may be necessary. – Two matrons to be known and designated as assistant matrons, whose general duties shall be to superintend the laundry, to take charge of the clothing of the sick, the bedding of the hospital, to see that they are kept clean and neat, and perform such other duties as may be necessary, at a salary not to exceed thirty-five dollars per month each. Two matrons for each ward at salary not to exceed thirty dollars per month each, to be known and designated as ward matrons, whose general duties shall be to prepare the beds and bedding of their respective wards, to see that they are kept clean and in order, that the food or diet for the sick is carefully prepared and furnished to them, the medicine administered, and that all patients requiring careful nursing are attended to, and all such other duties as may be necessary; and all surgeons and assistant surgeons in charge of a hospital are hereby authorized to employ such other nurses, either male or female, as may be necessary to the proper care and attention of the sick, at a salary not to exceed twenty-five dollars a month, and also the necessary cooks, at a salary not to exceed twenty-five dollars each per month, and one ward-master for each ward, at a salary of twenty-five dollars per month each, giving preference in all cases to females, where their services may best subserve the purposes and in the event, a sufficient number of such nurses and ward masters cannot be employed, not liable to military service, and it shall become necessary to assign this duty soldiers in the service, then upon the requisition of such surgeon or assistant surgeon in charge of such hospital, the soldier or soldiers so assigned, who are skillful and competent, shall be permanently detailed for this duty, and shall only be removeable for neglect or inattention, by the surgeon or assistant surgeon in charge, provided in all cases that all other attendants and servants not herein provided for, necessary to the service of said hospital, shall be allowed as now provided by law.

Sec. 5. That the hospitals of the Confederate States shall hereafter be known and numbered as hospitals of a particular State, and in all cases where the same can be done without injury to the patient, or great inconvenience to the Government, all sick or wounded soldiers, being citizens or residents of such particular State, shall be sent to such hospital as may represent the same.

Sec. 6. That all persons authorized to be employed by section 4th of the Act, who are not engaged in the military service, and whose pay is now provided for by law, shall be paid by any quartermaster or other persons authorized to pay troops in the military service, upon a muster, or pay roll to be made out and certified to by the surgeon or assistant having in charge the hospital or hospitals in which said persons have been employed.

On motion of Mr. SPARROW, the message of the House refusing concurrence in the Senate amendment to the House bill to provide for the filling up of existing regiments, battalions and companies was taken up and agreed to.

[remainder of items being of an unrelated nature were not transcribed.]


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