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FREEDOM FROM SICKNESS DS THE AKMT. 273
Lord, we are flowin to de fountain,
And it is so sweet."
While this was being sung, a young member of the band, with sleeves rolled up and a bandana wrapped about his head, stood in the centre of the cabin, and kept time. He continued beating with the feet and patting with the hands, at the same time twisting himself into every conceivable shape the human body will admit of, until the perspiration rolled off in large drops from his forehead. An exhortation was next listened to, after which they sang a variety of tunes, the following being a sample—
Jesus '11 git us out o' dis,
In describing this strange scene, we have no intention of throwing ridicule upon these unfortunates, or their devotions, but merely to give the reader an idea of the manner in which slave worship is frequently conducted.
The health of the troops continued to be remarkably good, only five per cent, of the entire army being on the sick list. Indeed, when we compare the sanitary condition of the Army of the Potomac from its origin up to the present time with that of other military organizations, there is abundant occasion for thanksgiving. Nearly one half of
274 DISEASE IN OTHER ARMIES.
our entire forces of the Revolution, forty-seven per cent., were at one time unfit for duty. Of thirty thousand troops that composed the English Army under Wellington in 1809, six thousand were sick in the hospitals. In 1811, the Portugese Army, numbering forty-four thousand, had nine thousand on the sick list. The terrible sickness during the late Crimean struggle is fresh in the memory of every one. Thirty thousand Russian soldiers perished in a few weeks' time from camp diseases, and thirty-five per cent., if we mistake not, of the allied troops were prostrated with sickness when Florence Nightingale entered upon her mission of mercy. At the commencement of the war, the enemy calculated largely on Cholera, Yellow Jack, and other maladies, as allies in decimating our ranks; but the health of the troops thus far has been unparalleled in the history of modern warfare. This has been mainly due to the lavish amount of supplies—at least one third greater than those furnished to any European Army—and to the skillful management of the medical Department.
What is known as the Regimental fund comprises the proceeds from the sale of the excess rations furnished to the various Regiments. This sum amounts to several thousand dollars annually, thus indicating the liberality of government in the matter of food. The Medical Department characterized at the commencement of the war, by little order or efficiency, is now completely systematized and placed on a servicable footing. Immediately on the resump
DESTITUTION AMONG THE VIRGINIANS. 275
tion of active operations, the Surgeons are assigned to the duty for which they are best qualified; some to the care of the sick, others to the amputating table, and others to the field.
"Poor white trash."
The encampment was frequently visited during the winter by those stigmatized among the wealthier Virginians, as "poor white trash." They generally came to crave "a little flour," "a few potatoes," anything to keep body and soul together. Deprived of their sons by a contest in which they took no interest, stripped of their little all by both parties, reduced to absolute penury, theirs was a hopeless lot indeed.