Post of Jefferson, Marion County, Texas,
Colonel George P. Buell, whom
the Sternes put up during the
Reconstruction period after the Civil War and who was sent to
Jefferson following a breakout of violence during this period.
REPORT OF ASSISTANT SURGEON CARLOS CARVALLO, UNITED STATES ARMY.
Jefferson, Marion County, Texas, the fifth city of Texas, having a population of 8,000 inhabitants, is situated on the border of Big Cypress Bayou, which communicates with the Red River. Latitude, .'52° 49' ,'50" north, and longitude 94° 17' west from Greenwich. It is 511 miles distant from Shreveport Louisiana, whence there is direct water communication to New Orleans, Louisiana, all the year round, and 16 miles distant from Marshall, which is in railroad communication with Shreveport, Louisiana. Direct communication by water in June, July, and August, to Shreveport, is generally limited to steamboats of light draught. There is no reservation, the troops being quartered on hired ground in the suburbs of the town. The soil is sandy. No mineral products in the vicinity. The soil is fertile for cotton, tobacco, wheat, and vegetables. There is plenty of water in the Big and Black Cypress Bayous, which surround the southern limits of the town, and drinking water is obtained from numerous wells and a few cisterns. The climate is mild, a fine breeze blowing even in the middle of the day; the nights in summer are generally cool and pleasant ; in winter " cold northerner" are frequent and sudden. Rain falls all the year round, but especially in the winter months. Snow storms are rare and light. The troops have been quartered in two distinct camps until July 20, 1870, on which date the cavalry were ordered within the limits of the infantry camp. The infantry camp is situated on a slight elevation on the borders of Cypress Bayou, and includes 9 1/2 acres on the southwest outskirt of the town.
The enlisted men's quarters are on a sandy slope of the elevation referred to. It has been occupied since December 13, 1868, and contains the stockade, which was in constant use during the " period of reconstruction." Tents are used exclusively as quarters for the men, generally in patches of two, three, or four common tents, floored and framed with pine lumber, some with brick chimneys, others provided with sheet or cast iron stoves; they are lighted with candles, and ventilated by raising the sides. There are generally two or three men in each tent, giving 493 cubic feet air space per man. There are no bath-rooms. Pit sinks are used, disinfected with lime. The kitchens are wooden sheds, with brick floors.
The quarters for laundresses and married soldiers are common tents, framed ; some have the addition of one or two wooden sheds.
The officers occupy tents in camp; generally one hospital and wall tent, as quarters for married officers, with two or three wall and common tents as kitchens and servants' quarters, and two wall tents for single officers. They are heated by stoves or open fireplaces with chimneys. The depot quartermaster and depot and post commissary have hired houses for their storehouses in the center of the town.
The guard-house at the infantry camp is the outer portion of the stockade, under a covered porch, protected on the exposed side by canvas; it is heated by cast-iron stoves, and ventilated. by raising the canvas. At the cavalry camp is a guard-house, divided into two rooms, one for the prisoners, about 10 by 10 feet, with small window and door opening into the other room, 7 by 10 feet, for the guard; the fireplace of brick for burning wood, the window and door furnishing ventilation, which would have been imperfect but for the numerous cracks and holes throughout the entire house.
The hospital formerly occupied a two-story frame building, at the head of the main street, but on account of its dilapidated condition was transferred, May 11, 1869, to a fine new two-story house, opposite, the cavalry camp, with seventeen rooms, and two large lots, rent $100 per month for each. On January 24, 1870, in was moved into tents in the cavalry camp, which have since been transferred to the permanent camp. It now consists of three hospital tents as wards, one hospital tent as office, one hospital tent as dispensary, two wall tents as dining-room, one wall tent, two wall- tent flies, and one common tent as kitchen, one wall tent and one common tent as steward's quarters, one wall tent as commissary store-room, three common tents as hospital attendants' quarters, one common tent as laundry, and one common tent as matron's quarters, all floored and framed with pine lumber, and heated with stoves, lighted with candles, and ventilated by raising the tent sides.
The bath and wash-room is in a wall tent, at the back end of the ward, and furnished with wash-tank and a bath-tub.
The library consists of 199 miscellaneous works.
Water for cooking, washing, and bathing purposes is obtained in barrels from the bayou, prisoners hauling it in wagons every day. Drinking water is obtained from one spring and one well in camp, and from neighboring wells, and is of good quality.
The natural drainage is excellent ; the ground is very sandy, and absorbs the moisture.
The men bathe in the bayou at pleasure in the summer.
There is no hospital garden. Last year an attempt was made to cultivate a post garden across the bayou, but it proved a failure.
There is communication to New Orleans, Louisiana, by steamboat direct, or by stage to Marshall; thence by railroad to Shreveport, Louisiana; thence direct, by Red River and the Mississippi, to New Orleans. The mails are regular from New Orleans, twice weekly. It requires generally ten days for a letter to reach headquarters, Department of Texas, and from fourteen to seventeen days to Washington.
Intermittent fever is very prevalent, probably due to the large amount of stagnant water around the town. Pulmonary catarrh is prevalent in winter ; also, diarrhea, dysentery, and rheumatism.
The general duties of the garrison during the past year have been those of sheriff and mounted constables, arresting murderers and horse thieves, &c.
Statement showing mean strength, number of sick, and principal diseases at Jefferson, Texan, for the years 1868 and 1869.
|Years||Mean Strength||Whole Number Taken Sick||Typhoid Fever||Malarial Fevers||Diarrhea and Dysentery||Tonsillitis||Epidemic Catarrh||Venereal Diseases||Rheumatism||Phthisis||Catarrhal Affections*||Nos. of Deaths|
|1868 (7 months)||175||315||..........||161||16||5||3||32||9||......||22||1|
*Include laryngitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, and pleurisy.
Shaw Billings, United States Surgeon-General's Office- 1870