One hundred and fifty years ago, the increased need for sanitary conditions for the sick soldiers in the Confederate Army in Arkansas was paramount for a convalescent’s speedy recovery. Civil War camp life was synonymous with disease due to the close quarter living among those in the field. The importance of a quick recovery kept men in the ranks and officers content with a viable fighting force.
The spring of 1863 saw numerous temporary field hospitals dotting the Arkansas landscape. According to an editorial in an Arkansas newspaper, an account of General Dandridge McRae’s regimental hospitals related that, “For temporary encampments I regard these hospitals as models of the best kind. They are substantial log cabins, containing two rooms about 18 feet square, divided by a passage, with a good fire place to each. These rooms have closely chinked walls, good plank floors and are well ventilated above. The roofing is such as to most effectually exclude the rain.”
One of the problems with a Civil War era hospital includes the notion of overcrowded rooms for soldiers to recover from their various illnesses. The editorial addressed this very issue: “Not more than six patients are allowed to occupy the same room. Each regiment has its own hospital located at a distance from the others upon the best site near the camps.”
As medical precautions were taken to segregate the ill from the rest of the Army and allowing them the ample time for recovery in a clean environment, “These hospitals have more than realized the results anticipated. The percent of mortality is far less than that reported under any of the various plans hitherto adopted.”
The Confederate Army would need as many healthy soldiers as possible for the upcoming campaigns against the Federal Army.