In my book Civil War Springfield
I touched on the fact that the town was overrun with refugees from southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas (mostly Union sympathizers trying to escape the bushwhackers who infested the rural areas), and I mentioned the poverty and miserable living conditions that many of them faced once they reached Springfield. In browsing the St. Louis Daily Missouri Republican
, I recently ran across a letter written by a Springfield correspondent in early April of 1863 that further illustrates what I was talking about in the book.
Colonel William F. Cloud had recently replaced General Egbert B. Brown in command of the District of Southwest Missouri and had issued several orders upon assuming command. One of the orders had to do with removing offal from the city precincts. Estimating that there were no fewer than 2,000 "dead horses, mules, pigs and cattle lying unburied in and around Springfield," the correspondent welcomed the directive. "Upon a warm spring day," he continued, "the stench is even now unbearable and is the sure presage of a sickly season."
The carcasses were to be gathered up and hauled two miles west of town, and the work was to be done by prisoners under guard. "Commanding officers will henceforward be required to keep their camps clean," concluded the correspondent, "and the sanitary condition of Springfield will thereby be greatly improved."
Not surprisingly, another letter from Springfield, written by the Reverend Frederick Wines and published in the same newspaper a few days later, mentioned the tremendous amount of sickness in Springfield. He said a statement published in the Daily Missouri Republican
a week or two earlier that many people had died in Springfield from a lack of food was not true, but he said at least a hundred had probably died just during the past winter from sickness and a lack of proper medical attention.