Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/169

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

Confederate Drug Conditions. 165

was the number of killed and wounded on the fields of battle. More than one-third oi the Confederates were confided to the sur- geons, besides the sick and wounded prisoners of war.

The Confederate government, immediately after the formation of a provisional government at Montgomery, were confronted by strong facts and large figures as to supplies for the different de- partments. Agents were sent at once to Europe, most of whom were in London, and where they established a weekly newspaper, with local correspondents in nearly every Southern town from Virginia to Texas. Instructions were given that, as there were only two sources of supply, capture and blockade running, im- portance was to be given to securing first, arms and am- munition; second, clothing, including boots, shoes, and hats; third, drugs and chemicals, such as were most pressingly needed, as quinine, chloroform, ether, opium, morphine, rhubarb, etc. These agents were instructed to see that all blockade run- ners or any transport ships, barks or brigantines, that were clearing for Southern ports for cargoes of cotton or naval stores, were loaded with the above enumerated articles; the cargoes to be consigned to individuals, firms or agents of the government at any port to which they cleared.

At the outset of the struggle the question of drugs and medi- cines was the third in importance, and the druggists of the South had either to manufacture what they could from native barks and leaves and herbs and roots, or purchase at the Southein ports such supplies as the blockade runners brought in that were not intended for the government. In most cases these cargoes were offered at auction. This was a custom at Galveston, New Or- leans, Mobile, Charleston, Pensacola, Savannah, and Wilming- ton. The Gulf cities received large supplies from Cuba, while in Texas there was almost a continuous train of contrabanders, or smugglers, bringing goods across the Rio Grande from Mexico, but not much of this was medicine.

As to capture, while the army frequently captured the wagon trains of the enemy, thus obtaining some supplies of medicines and surgical appliances, these were barely sufficient to supply the most distressing needs in the army; so, it may be seen that home manufacture and blockade running were the only source of sup- ply during nearly four years for between six and seven millions of people.