Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens Letter - 31 August 1862
An interesting letter from Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens written to the Chief Surgeon at Richmond Confederate Hospital requesting a Georgia soldier John T. Hill be allowed to recuperate at home because "Few can recover good health at any of our hospitals." Hill was sent home but returning he received gunshot wounds in action and was admitted to Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond on 5-26, 1864 where he died on 7-8-1864 and was buried at Oakmont Cemetery in Richmond, VA.
In full the letter reads:
Richmond VA 31 August 1862
Dr. James M. Green Surgeon in Charge 3rd Ga. Hospital
This will be handed Orderly John T. Hill of Putnam Co. Ga. Vols., a member of Company F., 44(th) Ga. Regiment. He has been sick a long time. Says his health is broken down and he wishes to go home for thirty days to strengthen and I wish you would examine him fully and if your judgment concurs with his views on that front, please give him the necessary certificate for the Board. As for surgery I must confess that I do not believe any man who is juts recovering from a two months attack of any severe disease will usually be fit for field duty and exposure within thirty days after his convalescence. He might be able to perform duty for a few days but prostration will almost inevitably follow and his last condition will be worse than his first.
The constitution of the man must first be restored in its healthful vigor. There is in my judgment great error in many of our Army Surgeons on this point. The Gover't ought to be economical in life. We will need every man. And it is not only unhuman but unwise to hazard the worth and life our our fighting materials. The sick should be permitted to get well.
Few men can recover good health at any of our hospitals. Five days of good pure air in a country home surrounded with friends will do a convalescent more good and he will mend faster than thirty days in a hospital when the whole atmosphere is filled with disease. Excuse this opinion - I do not anything of Mr. Hill's particular case; but I commend him to you him for examination.
Yours truly Alexander H. Stephens
P.S. If I had my way I would send many of the 20,000 wounded soldiers now about Richmond home forthwith - that they might mend at home - policy as well as humanity dictates our course.
Dr. James M. Green Surgeon in Charge 3 Ga. Hospital Richmond VA.
A fine 3 page ALS, Richmond, VA, 31, August 1862, to Dr. James M Green, surgeon in charge written by Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens (1812-1883), Congressman and Governor of Georgia and Vice President of the Confederacy. Small 4 to, blue lined pages, text clear (as clear as Stephens writing ever was), intersecting old folds, small chunk lacking from blank top left corner of first sheet, partial separation along folds, several clear tap repairs at base of center fold and on blank last leaf, which does bear the address to Dr. Green also in Stephens' hand.