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From: Toby Turner <>
Subject: [17TH-TX-CAVALRY] Sickness Among Company C
Date: Mon, 8 Feb 2010 10:47:02 -0600


The letters of Flavius Perry make much mention of the sickness within Company C the first mention is Aug 2, 1862, where he reports their camp is 30 miles north of Little Rock, and mentions more sickness and death (he's sick, too). On the 11th, he's still sick and says "all of our Mess sick." He also mentions in this letter that 5 men deserted to the Union forces, were recaptured and shot. On the 6th of Sep from Camp Hope, AR (later called Camp Nelson), he reports his mess mate has died and on the 23, he mentions a few men sick with the mumps and says the "won't discharge nobody unless he has both legs and an arm off." Four more men deserted, were recaptured, but returned to duty. On the 28th, he says the health of the men is improving, but there is still some Flux (dysentery). On 5 Nov from Camp Nelson, he says there's a good deal of sickness among the newly arrived men, but the ones from the previous spring are okay.

On 21 Dec, he's at Fort Hindman, AR and mentions the death of one of the best soldiers in company, Josh Scogins. He also says two men from Co. C have died since their arrival at the Fort, naming only James R. Pike who died 18 Dec. Says there's a good deal of sickness, primarily pneumonia and winter fever.

On 4 Apr 1863, is a letter from an unknown person to Perry's wife who states the officers capture are at Camp Chase (where Perry is), and mentions a list in the paper of deaths and small pox in the prison camp, and, horribly, holds out little hope that Perry will survive (some friend!). On 5 May, Perry writes from Petersburg, VA that he's been paroled with other officers (presumably including Bryan Marsh who also wrote from Petersburg). Here he states a great many died out of the regiment while prisoners, mentioning four of his company (John, or possibly Benjamin, Gilbert, Engledow, Creed, Thomas Capel, Hooks or Hobbs. Unfortunately my notetaking was not the best that day and my writing was very hard to read when I transcribed my notes. The final letters refer to Perry's death at Atlanta, 23 Jul 1863, at the age of 28.
["The Letters of Lt. Flavius W. Perry 17th Texas Cavalry, 1862-1863," edited by Joe R. Wise, Military History of Texas and the Southwest, vol. XIII, no. 2, pages 11-37.

In the memoirs of Samuel Alonza Cooke, who was in Company E, he also mentions illness at Camp Hope, specifically measles. He says 4,000 men were captured at Arkansas Post, including him. He specifically states there were 30-40 cases of small pox among the Union soldiers and that the Confederate prisoners were forced to share rooms with the sick men on the two boats which took all prisoners to St. Louis. He further states that upon their arrival at St. Louis it was terribly cold and the prisoners were forced to spend the night upon the windy shore without blankets or the ability to have fires. He specifically states that men froze to death.["The Civil War Memoirs of Samuel Alonzo Cooke," edited by Bill O'Neal, Southwestern Historical Quarterly, vol. LXXIV, no. 4 (april 1971), pages 535-548

Captain Samuel T. Foster comments that their camp at Crystal Hill was unhealthy, so they moved to Camp Hope, on the road to Searcy, 20 miles northeast of Little Rock. He reports when Nelson died and George Sweet took command, he was so heartily disliked that the men shaved the mane and tail of his horse. Finally, James Deshler assumes command. [One of Cleburne's Command: The Civil War Reminiscences and Diary of Captain Samuel T. Foster, Granbury's Texas Brigade, C. S. A. (Austin, 1980)]

In Zachariah Crow's letters, he mostly talks about his loneliness for his wife (very poignant), but on 23 May 1862, he says "There is a greateal [sic] of sickness in camps mostly the mesel [sic]. They are ding [sic] from to two a day in the citty [sic] at the Hosptl [sic]" ["A Smith County Confederate Writes Home: Letters of Z. H. Crow, edited by F. Lee Lawrence and Robert W. Glover, Chronicles of Smith County, Texas, vol. 4, no. 2, pages 11-14, (Fall, 1965)]

In the letters of Bryan Marsh (previously cited), he mentions on 1 Dec 1862, that 10-12 men were left at Camp Nelson because they were too ill to travel.

Finally, there are two hard-to-get pieces which ran in The Redland Herald of Nacogdoches County, c1930. A brief two page article on "Company A, 17th Texas Cavalry" by W. P. Fears, specifically states "Typhoid, measles and disentary [sic] caused the men to die in this camp (referring to Camp Nelson) like sheet with the rot."

The second article, "Flat Woods," by Miss Addie Birdwell mentions the previous Fears' piece and adds to it further information of which Miss Birdwell was acquainted. "My father was at all the places mentioned in Mr. Fears letter and was captured at the Arkansas Post and carried a captive to the Federal Prison at Chicago, where his brother, Billy Birdwell, died of small pox, he (Billy) having been exposed to small pox in the camp before being captured by the Federals. She talks about her father's escape from prison and his injury on the battlefield subsequently, but no other men are mentioned.

I hope this has helped. This will probably be my last post as I unsubscribed from the message board yesterday.
Toby (and, incidentally, I female, not male)


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