Monday, May 12, 2014

Military Monday: The Camp Papers*: Disease and Death Among the Troops

"Wounded Man in a Hospital Bed"
By Kennington, Eric Henri (RA) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In April of 1862, Major Raleigh Spinks Camp wrote the letter transcribed below to his brother Thomas Lumpkin Camp and wife Mary.  His letter provided interesting insights into the presence and effects of disease among the 40th Georgia Infantry during the Civil War.(1)

Knoxville, Tenn.  4th April 1862

Dear Brother & Sister,

As I will not get to make you another visit as I so much wished, I will substitute a letter, the only alternative I have to chat with you.  My health is very good indeed;  [I] am improving rapidly [from my wound] and hope to soon be myself again ...

There is a good deal of sickness in our Regiment, now at least 100 on the sick list.  One from Floyd County [Georgia] died Monday and two this evening, one from Gordon [County] and one from Paulding [County], the latter by the name of Jos Cole.  In one short week, three stout men have died.  Pneumonia is the disease that cuts them off so quick.  Lewis Camp has it but was back and will be up soon I think.

I have seen so much in the last six months that it does not surprise me at all.  I expect men to sicken and die in camps.  More die, by far, than are killed by the enemy.  Many of the men are scared, but, poor fellows, they have seen but little yet.  They do not see the future before them and how wise God is to conceal it from us ...

I suppose William will be here by the time you get this.  His stay will be short, and I now see that it will be best for him to stay at home as long as possible.  Measles and other camp diseases would be a great risk for him, and his family needs him worse than he is aware.

[Raleigh's brother William Brooks Camp joined the 40th Georgia on 15 May 1862.  Within six weeks, on 2 July 1862, William had died of measles.(2)]           .

Kiss all the children for me, and write me soon and often.  And may the Lord bless us all.


* This letter is a part of the "Camp Family Papers, 1858-1877" which are housed in the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL) of Emory University in Decatur, Georgia.  The letters was transcribed using Transcript freeware.  Some of the spelling, punctuation, and syntax were corrected in this post for ease in reading.  ... is used to indicate portions of the letter which were omitted in the post.  [ ] indicates a word or information I have inserted for clarity.

(1) "Dear Brother & Sister" 4 Apr 1862; letter no. 14, Camp Family Papers, 1858-1877; Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University, Decatur, Georgia.
(2) Henderson, Lillian. Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia, vol. 4. Hapevile, GA : Longine & Porter, c1959-1964; accessed through

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