To The Contributors Of The Fund For The
During The Prevalence Of The Yellow Fever
In That Town In 1855;
The Exhibit Of The Treasurer Of The
Receipts And Disbursements Of The Fund,
And Statements Of Other Members Of The Association;
Together With A Sketch Of The Fever, Etc., Etc.

Richmond: H. K. Ellyson's Steam Power Presses
147 Main Street

Transcribed by Donna Bluemink

[Numbers in brackets denote page number in original book]

Portsmouth Orphan Asylum


Report of the Portsmouth Relief Association . . . . 9
Account Current of the Treasurer . . . .17
Statement of W. Watts, of Funds Received by Him . . . . 56
Statements of Moneys Received Through Norfolk Howard Association . . . .57
Statement of Indebtedness to Portsmouth to September 20 . . . . 58
Statement of D. D. Fiske, of Funds Received by Him . . . . 59
Segregated Statement of Contributions Received by the Treasurer . . . . 62
Segregated Statement of Expenditures by the Treasurer . . . . 63
Segregated Statement of J. N. Schoolfield's Expenditures . . . . 67
Segregated Statement of S. T. Hartt's Expenditures . . . . 68
Proceedings of the Common Council . . . . 69
Resolutions of Thanks . . . . 70
Sketch of the Yellow Fever, by Dr. J. N. Schoolfield . . . .73
List of the Dead . . . .185
Burials by the Relief Association . . . . 194
List of the Orphans . . . .200
List of Volunteer Physicians to Portsmouth . . . .206
List of Volunteer Nurses and Druggists to Portsmouth . . . .207
Correspondence . . . . 209
James G. Holladay's Statement . . . . 361
Charter of the Portsmouth Orphan Asylum . . . . 364

Members of the Portsmouth Relief Association

D. D. Fiske,
James G. Holladay,
Geo. W. Peete,
Joseph N. Schoolfield,
Holt Wilson,
Winchester Watts,
Samuel T. Hartt.

Page 19, 32nd line, for John Larb, read John Lash.
Page 19, 39th line, for Jordan Sparren, read Jordan Sparrow-make same correction pages 25 and 27.
Page 20, 22d line, for church, read check.
Page 23, 34th line, for N. Schoolfield, read J. N. Schoolfield.
Page 27, 17th line, for F. Montserral, read F. Montserrate.
Page 29, 39th line, for Thos. Brook, Jr., read Thos. Brooks, Jr.
Page 34, 33d line, for Adington, read Abingdon.
Page 35, 10th line, for Francis Minserrate, read Francis Montserrate.
Page 36, 44th line, for H. S. Shappner, read H. S. Shaffner.
Page 37, 4th line, for Dr. Aspull, read Dr. Aspell.
Page 40, 26th line, for Rev. Mr. Hardy, read Rev. Mr. Handy.
Page 41, 3d line, for Dr. McClorkey, read Dr. McCloskey.
Page 63, 7th line, for Portland $7.33, read Portland $733.00.
Page 64, 51st line, for Surry $26.65, read Surry $26.66.
Page 64, 15th line 2d column, for Forestville $133, read Forestville $103.


Of the Portsmouth Relief Association to the Contributors for the Relief of the Sufferers from Yellow Fever, in the Town of Portsmouth, during the Epidemic of 1855.

The Association, in bringing to a close the labors voluntarily assumed by them, desire, for the gratification of those who contributed so freely towards the relief of their suffering fellow-citizens during the late epidemic, to make an exposition of the manner in which they executed the trust thus self-imposed. At a time when the town was nearly deserted by her panic-stricken inhabitants, and few, very few, were left to minister to the necessities of the sick and the suffering—when a quorum of the Council of the town could not be had—when the merchant had left his counting-room and the mechanic his work-shop—the undersigned—nearly all of whom holding official relations to the municipal affairs of the town, acting in concert as a Relief Association, but at first without regular organization— undertook the management of matters, designed and calculated to relieve the distresses of her people.

Before rendering an account of the mode in which the duty, thus assumed, was performed by them, it is their wish to return to the generous and noble-minded contributors towards the relief of their suffering fellow-citizens, the grateful and heartfelt thanks of the whole community. It gives them pleasure to express the gratitude they feel for the great and many benefits the people of Portsmouth have received from the numerous, liberal and benevolent citizens, scattered all over the country, who, in time of sickness and suffering and death, remembered the poor and the needy, and ministered to their necessities.

It is impossible to realize what measure of distress the dire calamity which befel our town would have inflicted [10] upon her inhabitants, without the timely aid so abundantly poured in upon us by friends everywhere. Their generous contributions alone afforded the means of keeping gaunt famine from our midst, and enabled us to supply food to appease the pangs of hunger, which otherwise could not have been alleviated.

How sublime a eulogium on the character of our institutions and our people, did this spontaneous outpouring of benevolence in behalf of a plague-stricken city, present! The citizens of every section of our country—the old and the young, as well as little children—people of all shades of politics and religion, simultaneously and without concert, joined in the holy charity which was to furnish food and comfort to a dying community ! When our wants became known—and they were by no means few, or small—there was not a day on which supplies of money, provisions, medicines, and necessaries of all kinds, were not flowing in upon us.

In this connection, it may not be invidious to refer to the very great sacrifices made by the Baltimore Steam Packet Company for our relief. At an enormous pecuniary loss they kept up a constant communication with Baltimore, and free of all charge, transported to our town the physicians, nurses and provision sent to our succor. The positive assurance of the enterprising and intelligent President of the Company, M. N. Falls, was given, that the line should be kept in operation; and for days and weeks and months, the free use of their boats was kindly afforded to us. And the Seaboard and Roanoke Railroad Company, through their faithful president, Dr. Wm. Collins, now, alas! no more—dead in the discharge of his duty to the Company and the place of his birth—should not be unremembered for the very liberal policy displayed by them. But we will not particularize further, for, when all did so well, it is impossible to make a distinction.

Assistance was not alone furnished us in provisions and [11] money. When the call for personal help went forth, our cries were heard and nobly responded to. Intelligent and philanthropic physicians, kind and skilful nurses, and gentle, sympathizing women flocked to our relief. They knew the danger they were about to encounter, but that did not cause them to hesitate. Intent only on ministering to the wants of sick and suffering humanity, all thought of danger to self was discarded, and vigorously and nobly did they battle with the plague-fiend—some to fall, to rise no more until the sounding of the last trump! Martyrs to humanity! Exemplars of heroism! They fell more nobly than if cut down on the battle-field amid the pomp and circumstance of war. No martial strains or loud huzzas cheered them in their labors. Nothing but the shrieks of the suffering and the groans of the dying saluted their ears. Noiselessly and without applause, save that afforded by a consciousness of their holy mission, they followed in the track of the pestilence, rendering all the aid to its victims which an arduous course of theory had placed at their command.

To the General Government—to the President of the United States, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, are our people under obligations for their ready assent to the request of a committee of our citizens for the use of the United States Naval Hospital. Fortunate, indeed, was it for our town that the use of this noble institution was secured—fortunate that the execution of the order from the Department at Washington devolved upon the humane and liberal Commander of the Naval Station at this place, and the able and enlightened Medical Corps then stationed at the U. S. Naval Hospital—Surgeon Lewis W. Minor, Thos. B. Steele, James F. Harrison, Randolph Harrison, John C. Coleman and Frank A. Walke. It is due to Commodore McKeever, to say, that he gave the order from the department the most extensive construction, so as to afford as much relief as possible. Our in- [12] tercourse with him has been of the most pleasing kind. For his liberality and humanity he is entitled to our warmest thanks.

From a higher source, the Secretary of the Navy, they all have received marks of appreciation of their services. But this will not prevent us from giving utterance to the feelings of gratitude entertained by all, for their kindness, skill, attention and sympathy manifested towards the sick under their charge. Some of us have reason to know and feel the debt of gratitude due them, and it will be our constant pleasure to bear evidence, on all occasions, to their worth as officers, as physicians and as men.

Nor may we neglect to mention others, whose zeal and interest were so intensely exhibited in our behalf during the gloomy period through which we have passed. The names of Thos. Webster, Jr., of Philadelphia, J. W. Weir, of Harrisburg, J. Albright, of Lancaster, J. Levering, of Baltimore, Thos. Dodamead of the city of Richmond, D'Arcy Paul, of Petersburg, Jno. M. Otey, of Lynchburg, Jno. P. Ingle, of Washington City, and the noble men who composed the committees of these places, together with those of Boston, New York, Albany, Washington City, Alexandria, Charleston, Columbia, Wilmington, Cincinnati, Lexington, and, indeed, the whole band of benevolent and zealous men who composed the several Relief Committees in the various cities, towns, villages and country places throughout our favored land—these all must ever be remembered by the people of Portsmouth with the profoundest gratitude.

Having in a very general way, and in a feeble manner attempted to return our acknowledgments to our many noble and generous benefactors, we will proceed to the exposition promised in the beginning of this report.

In taking charge of the supplies so bountifully placed at their command, the Association met with abundant demands for their use. The epidemic had seized upon the community when totally unprepared for it. The whole [13] population was paralyzed by panic. There was no place prepared for the reception of the indigent sick; and from a want of knowledge of the character of the disease, it was next to impossible to procure competent nurses. All mercantile pursuits and mechanical operations having been brought to a close—the wages of labor having been stopped, and the stores having been closed, the Association at the very threshold found its hands full. Fortunately, the first need was supplied by the consent of the Government to the use of the Naval Hospital; and the Association at once proceeded to afford all the relief in their power to alleviate the suffering caused by the want of food and nursing.

The town was districted into wards, to which committees were appointed, whose duty it was to seek out the sick and the destitute. A central office was opened, at which daily sessions were held. For the supply of provisions, articles of diet and clothing, stores were rented and store-keepers placed in them. As fast as goods arrived they were sent to the stores to be issued to those in need, on the orders of the Ward Committees, or of the members of the Association. Dietetics and cordials were gratuitously supplied on all the physicians' requisitions.

It may not be out of place to remark, that three of the four successive keepers of the Provision Store died of the Fever, and the fourth suffered severely from an attack.

There were three establishments in the town where prescriptions were compounded, and every attendant in each of these dispensaries suffered with the disease. This created another demand on the Association. Apothecaries from abroad nobly came to our aid, and it was only by their exertions that the prescriptions of the faculty were put up. Of those employed in this duty, every one sooner or later took the Fever, and certainly four, if not more, died of it. No doubt the loss of rest and fatigue incident to their constant and harrassing labors tended to this result.

Having been so fortunate as to obtain the use of the [14] Naval Hospital for the reception of the indigent sick and others who preferred going there, provision had also to be made by us for their conveyance to that institution. This was not so easily done as might be supposed. The fear of contagion rendered it very difficult at first to procure a driver for the sick wagon, and then only by the payment of exorbitant wages. Two of those employed in this capacity died.

When the physicians and nurses who came to our assistance began to arrive in our midst—there being no public house open, and few citizens of the town remaining who were able to accommodate them, we had to make provision for their entertainment. Some of them were quartered at the residence of Wm. H. Wilson, Esq., which had been kindly placed at our command; but that being insufficient, we were compelled to open the "Crawford House," and keep it on our account, to board and lodge them. At this establishment, for some time, as many as forty persons, physicians, nurses, apothecaries and others, were provided for.

As the Fever proceeded in its devastation, many heads of families fell, leaving helpless orphans unprovided for. To meet this contingency, we were compelled to open a temporary Orphans' Home. The Academy-building was taken possession of and furnished for their reception, and placed under the charge and supervision of the Sisters of Charity; and, as the natural protectors of these little children were swept away by the pestilence, they were removed thence and properly nourished and cared for. After a short time, the benevolence of the citizens of Richmond relieved us of this charge.

We concluded to send these helpless little ones to a city of our own State, rather than to the fraternal city of Baltimore, which had also kindly made provision for their reception.

In nursing the sick, much difficulty was experienced by [15] the Committee in procuring proper assistance. Never having been visited by a similar epidemic, our people were ignorant of its nature, and unfitted for its management. The fear of contagion operated in the beginning very much to enhance the difficulty. It was hard to persuade them that there was no more danger in nursing the sick, than there was in breathing the atmosphere in the streets. Consequently, extravagant prices had to be paid for all attendance. At first, three dollars per day were demanded by nurses, however incompetent; and the supply of those, even at that price, was very limited. But this want was in a measure supplied by the noble volunteer nurses from abroad. And then we had to make provision for the burial of the dead. In this last sad duty the Association was materially assisted by the indefatigable and truly praiseworthy exertions of one of our colored population, familiarly known as Bob Butt. This humble negro, in his line, performed duty beyond all price. From morn till night he labored at his spade, and frequently made the grave-yard his resting-place. Under his direction and superintendence, all who died of the Fever were decently committed to their mother Earth.

In all their operations the Association endeavored to get along with as little expenditure of money as possible. Under a different state of things all that they accomplished might have been done for far less than they expended. They readily admit this. But, when the amount expended is contemplated, and the circumstances by which they were surrounded taken into consideration, it is not probable that another organization could have done with less. Emergencies which could not be perceived were constantly arising, which had to be met at once. Personal help was continually in demand, and this was only to be had at exorbitant rates. These, and various other causes of a similar nature, went far to increase the expenses beyond what they would have been in ordinary times.

[16] It is not pretended by us that our proceedings were conducted with that regularity which characterizes the doings of organized bodies in times of health and prosperity. We claim to have done the best that we could with the limited personnel at our command. We now see that errors were committed, which, if we had the matter to go over, we could rectify. But we have the consciousness of knowing that what we did was done for the best, and, that in whatever else we may have fallen short, it was not in our intentions.

Before closing this Report, it is proper that something be said relative to the Orphan Asylum which this Association contemplate erecting. To this object, as will be seen in the Report of the Treasurer, a sum has already been devoted. And it is in contemplation to appropriate whatever residue there may be to the erection and support of so necessary an institution. It is true, no funds were remitted by our generous friends for this special object, but from the profound interest which was felt by all abroad, manifested in special contributions for the orphans, in offers to take charge of them, and in the abundant supplies of clothing and all other necessaries incident to their helpless condition, the Association concluded that it would not only meet the views of all, but be the best appropriation of the funds remaining on hand and unexpended, which could be made. Indeed, by the able report of Thos. Webster, Jr., Esq., and the Relief Committee of Philadelphia, it will be seen, that a portion of the generous contributions there has been invested in funds to aid in this design of our Association.

An Orphan Asylum Bill is now in course of progress in our Legislature, which we trust will be speedily consummated, when the necessary action will be taken in order to accomplish the work designed.

With these remarks, we now proceed to lay before the public an account of the receipts and expenditures of our Association.

[17] Account Current of the Treasurer of the
Portsmouth Relief Association

Daily expenditures from August 25 - December 29, 1855: pp 18-55
Contributions: pp 55-65
(Summary) Recapitualtion: p 66
Segregated Statements: pp 67 & 68

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Page 19 Page 36 Page 53
Page 20 Page 37 Page 54
Page 21 Page 38 Page 55
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Page 23 Page 40 Page 57
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Page 25 Page 42 Page 59
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At a meeting of the Common Council of Portsmouth, held on the 5th of February, 1856, the following letter was laid before the Board:

Portsmouth, Va., Feb. 2, 1856.

To the President and Members of the Common Council of Portsmouth:

Gentlemen:—The Portsmouth Relief Association respectfully request that you appoint a committee to audit the accounts of Holt Wilson, Treasurer, and such other accounts as may be presented for examination. The Treasurer's account has been closed for some time past and ready for publication. Very respectfully,
(Signed,) HOLT WILSON, Treas.
Acting Secretary.

The following gentlemen were appointed to constitute the committee, viz: Samuel Watts, Samuel M. Wilson, Jos. A. Bilisoly, Hugh N. Page, John K. Cooke, John Cocke, and John G. Hatton.

At a called meeting of the Common Council of the town of Portsmouth, held at the office of John U. Andrews, Esq., on Monday evening, March 10th, 1856—Present, W. Watts, President; J. G. Holladay, Washington Reed, Holt Wilson, Geo. R. Snead, Jos. H. Porter, James Guy, George W. Peete—the following report was submitted, and on motion received:

The committee appointed by the Common Council of the town of Portsmouth, at the request of the Portsmouth Relief Association, to examine the accounts of Holt Wilson, Treasurer of said Association, and such others as might be submitted to them, report that they have examined the accounts of said Holt Wilson, Treasurer, and they find his disbursements, four hundred and fifty-six items in number, amounting to eighty thousand two hundred and seventy dollars and two cents, supported by proper vouchers. The receipts amount to three hundred and three contributions from various portions of the State and country, making the munificent charity of eighty-five thousand three hundred and twenty dollars and sixty-three cents, leaving a balance of five thousand and fifty dollars and sixty-one cents.

The committee would state that the accounts of the Treasurer have been closed since last December. Since that date there have been received by the Treasurer, from the city of Richmond, one thousand one hundred and [70] contributions, amounting to four hundred and thirty-two dollars and twenty-six cents. His disbursements since amount to three hundred and four dollars and twenty-five cents. As all the Treasurer's segregated statements were completed and made out to accord with the accounts as closed, it was deemed unnecessary to reopen the accounts. The committee are informed that it is the intention of the Association to appropriate whatever balance may remain in their hands after paying all their liabilities, to the erection and endowment of the contemplated orphan asylum. All which is respectfully submitted.
Committee: SAMUEL M. WILSON,

Portsmouth, February 28, 1856.
On motion, the Council adjourned.
V. O. CASSELL, Clerk.


The following preamble and resolutions, submitted by Holt Wilson, were unanimously adopted by the Common Council of Portsmouth, on the 5th instant:

Whereas, at a former meeting of this Council, his Honor, the Mayor, we requested to call a public meeting of the citizens for the purpose of taking into consideration the propriety of expressing the public gratitude to of numerous friends for their kindness and charity, manifested towards our sick and suffering during the prevalence of the late epidemic —and wheras, his Honor did, in compliance with said request of the representatives of this town and people, call said meeting, which, however, failed to carry out and accomplish the designs and intentions entertained by this Council—and whereas, the expression of public thanks and gratitude is in every view most fit and becoming on the part of this community—therefore,

Resolved, by the Common Council of the town of Portsmouth, including Gosport and Newtown, representing the people thereof, and speaking their name and stead, and by and through their authority, that, impressed with sentiments of profound gratitude, the thanks of this entire community are hereby tendered to the benevolent people of the States of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Texas, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin; also the benevolent and zealous men who composed the several relief committees [71] within their borders—to all the churches; to their humane associations, societies, fraternities, and public works and work-shops—in which are included all conditions, professions and employments of men—to the railroads and steamboats, which kindly conveyed over their lines free of charge the physicians and nurses, and all others, who came to our relief—to all these benevolent people, men, women, and even little children, who remitted to us ample means, both in money and provisions, and ministered to us in a season of calamity and distress unparalleled, alleviating our burdens and abundantly and munificently supplying all our wants.

Resolved, That while we thus express our grateful acknowledgments to all, everywhere, who thus remembered us in our affliction, we may not be unmindful of those individuals, the doctors and nurses and ministers of the gospel—the living and the dead—whose noble zeal and humane exertions should ever be remembered by us with deepest gratitude—and likewise, that among these, first and foremost in the public esteem, are to be ranked Thos. Webster, Jr., of the city of Philadelphia, M. N. Falls, J. A. Levering, of the city of Baltimore, Thos. Dodamead, of the city of Richmond, and D'Arcy Paul, of Petersburg, who supplied us with provisions, without which our condition would have been destitute indeed.

Resolved, That the self-sacrificing spirit of those noble women, the Sisters of Charity, and Sisters of Mercy, whose devotion to the duties and voluntary obligations of their holy profession renders them regardless of danger and effects an entire immolation of self upon the altar of charity, elicits and commands the public admiration. The cry of wo, which went out from our midst and fell upon the heedful ears of those religious sisterhoods, was responded to in tones of commiseration, and in prayerful accents of womanly sympathy. The wine and the oil and the pence of an active presence at the beds of the sick, the dying, and the destitute, was freely, fully and incessantly bestowed. Truly, their faith has "obtained a good report," and their "charity never faileth."

Resolved, That the thanks of the community are peculiarly due to the people of the cities of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Richmond, for the deep interest they manifested in the poor and helpless orphans, who were rendered destitute by the pestilence, but who found friends indeed, willing and ready to care for them and to provide for all the necessities incident to their lonely condition.

Resolved, That our acknowledgments are hereby tendered to the President of the United States, the Secretary of the Navy, the Chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, for their co-operation with the views of the committee of this Council, who succeeded in obtaining the use of the U. S. Naval Hospital, where our sick and dying were received, and without the grant of which our situation would have been most deplorable; and [72] that the liberal interpretation of the views of the chiefs at Washington, by the commandant of the Naval Station, Commodore Isaac McKeever, merits our sincere thanks. His ready and efficient co-operation was never withheld, but always cordially rendered. Nor, in this connection, are we unmindful of the officers and men of the United States vessels, the Saranac, the Michigan, the Hetzel and the Savannah, whose noble exertions and benevolent contributions in our behalf are most gratefully cherished by us.

Resolved, That our grateful acknowledgments are tendered to Lewis W. Minor, Surgeon of the U. S. Naval Hospital, and to his able and humane assistants, Thos. B. Steele, James F. Harrison, Randolph Harrison, John C. Coleman and F. A. Walke. These excellent men and skilful physicians were in season and out of season, at the beds of our sick and dying people, ministering to their necessities, and smoothing their pillows in the solemn hour of death. Their kindness to the sick and their urbanity to all during the trying times when their labors were so accumulated, ennobled their positions and dignified their honorable profession.

Resolved, That as a memorial of them and a testimonial of the public appreciation of their valued services, a committee be appointed, with instructions to have executed six gold medals with suitable inscriptions and devices, and that one be presented to each of these physicians, together with a copy of this and the foregoing resolution.

Resolved, That we entertain the highest appreciation of the noble offer of the Rev. Mr. Spackman, of the State of Pennsylvania, a minister of the gospel, who, regardless of personal danger, and with a zealous devotion to the duties of his holy mission, volunteered his services and offered to come among us to labor among the sick and dying, who might need the consoling and comforting offices of our holy religion.

Resolved, That as it is in contemplation to erect a monument over the graves of those lamented doctors and nurses who laid down their lives in our service, and in the sacred cause of humanity, this Council cordially approve the design of the Portsmouth Relief Association, as one in every view commendable and appropriate.

Resolved, That these resolutions be published in the Portsmouth Transcript, and in papers of this State, and a notice of them be requested by the editorial corps abroad, that our gratitude may be proclaimed wherever it may be due.



At the request of the Portsmouth Belief Association, the "Sketch of the Yellow Fever, as it appeared at Portsmouth, Virginia, in the Summer and Fall of 1855," has been prepared. They supposed that some account of the origin and progress of that most terrible epidemic would be expected of them, by those who had contributed so largely and so liberally of their means for the relief of the sufferers from its ravages, and would prove interesting to the public generally. It therefore appeared to them, that such a narrative would not be out of place in the report of their transactions in the administration of the munificent fund with which they had been entrusted by the generosity and benevolence of the people of the whole country.

We have endeavored to give an accurate description of the sanatary condition of the town immediately preceding the appearance of the fever, and a detail of all circumstances in any wise calculated to shed light on the causes which gave origin to it. On a careful consideration of these data, we have formed our theory in relation to its production; but this will not prevent the reader from coming to a different conclusion. He will find some facts related which cannot be reconciled with the doctrine of importation, and others, again, inconsistent with that of endemic origin. We think that the preponderance lies in favor of the theory of non-importation, though in this opinion we are not sustained either by the gentlemen composing the Association, or the medical faculty, or any considerable portion of the community at large; and hence are alone individually responsible for the view we have advanced. With great unanimity the conclusion has been arrived at, that the disease was imported into the town by the Steamer Ben Franklin. They readily admit the presence of a stong predisposition in the state of the atmosphere, and other circumstances connected with the hygenic condition of the town, existing at the time, but are unwilling to concede anything beyond. For the development of the epidemic, according to their belief, some excitant, (call it by what name you may,) was absolutely necessary; and this, they assert, was supplied from the hold of the steamer. They do not deny the existence of a proper nidus for the infection, or that the surrounding circumstances favored the spread of the fever; but they insist it could not have arisen from them, unless another element, no indigenous, had been brought in contact with them. They alledge, that materials of a most combustible nature might be present all around, but that no conflagration could ensue without the application of a spark.

In preparing this sketch, it has been our aim, as far as possible, to avoid all medical technicalities, and thus adapt it for popular circulation. On this account, also, much has been detailed, intended to interest the general reader, which in a memoir designed only for professional perusal, would have been omitted. It is, what its name purports, a mere sketch, hurriedly gotten up, for the purpose of diffusing some general knowledge of the nature of the fever, the methods of cure resorted to in its treatment, and of the extreme suffering and mortality consequent upon it. Beyond this it claims no consideration, and deprecates criticism.


In order that the history of the yellow fever, as it prevailed at Portsmouth, in Virginia, during the months of June, July, August, September, and October, 1855, may be properly appreciated, it will be necessary to give a detailed topographical sketch of that town, and of the country lying immediately in the vicinity. Heretofore, owing to the close proximity of this town to the city of Norfolk, with which it has been generally confounded, very little has been knpwn as to its location, population, or business relations. The prevalence within the limits of the town, of the most malignant and fatal pestilence which the annals of mortality record, has brought it into notice, and enlisted in its behalf the sympathies of the whole country.

Portsmouth is still a part of the county of Norfolk, and constitutes the county seat. It lies in latitude 36° 50' north, and longitude 76° 19' west, and is beautifully situated on the south side of the Elizabeth river, having a frontage of nearly a mile on that river. On the opposite bank of the same stream, at a distance of three quarters of a mile, lies the city of Norfolk, with a population of near sixteen thousand. The river flows between the two cities, affording sufficient depth of water to float vessels of the very largest class. The social and business intercourse existing between them is most intimate, and is maintained by steam ferry boats, which ply continuously during the day, and for a considerable part, of the night.

[78] Portsmouth is quite an old town, and existed as such prior to the Revolution. By an act of the General Assembly, passed in 1752, it was established, and located on the lands of Wm. Crafford, in honor of whom one of its principal streets is named. It is composed of Portsmouth proper, Gosport and Newtown, the whole being under the same municipal government.

Gosport is that part of the town which lies at the southern terminus of the corporation limits. It is bounded by the river on the front, the government Navy Yard on the south, and by an arm of the river on the north and west, which separates it from Portsmouth proper, and Newtown. This place was settled many years ago, and was at one time the seat of a very large shipping business, which has entirely dwindled away. The site of Gosport is flat, and is drained by a creek, which runs along the whole extent of its western border. In shape it is triangular, having the navy yard wall for the base of the triangle, and the river and the creek, just alluded to, for its sides. The point where the two sides of the triangle unite, forms the landing for "Gosport bridge,'' an earthern causeway connecting Gosport with Portsmouth proper. This bridge is about eight hundred feet long, and twenty feet wide, and is covered over its whole length, to a considerable depth, with woody matter. In wet weather it is in a condition barely passable.

Newtown, as its name implies, is of more recent settlement. It stands on a low flat piece of land, having a water boundary on three sides—the east, north and west—separating it from Gosport, and Portsmouth proper. The place is badly drained, and in some parts of it, after continued rains, the water stands in pools for many days; and there being a very small proportion of the lots built upon, weeds, grass, and other vegetable growths abound. The different creeks, to which allusion has so often been made, are all shallow, and at low tide the water ebbs entirely from them, and their beds, composed of a soft bluish mud, are [79] completely exposed to the sun's rays. All of these streams are, to a greater or less extent, covered with a rank growth of rushes, or sea grass. At times when the water has receded from these marshes, the effluvia arising from them we have noticed as being very offensive; but, in former years, this has not been looked upon as a source of disease, because it was supposed to be corrected by the large quantity of saline principle which the water covering them held in solution.

Portsmouth proper, is a peninsula. On its north side, which is washed by the river, it is penetrated by Swimming Point creek, which very soon bifurcates, and each branch of the creek pursues its course through the very heart of the town for several hundred yards. The creek which runs between Portsmouth proper, and Gosport and Newtown, runs for more than half a mile along its southern boundary. All the streets drain into these water courses, and they thus become the receptacles of all the filth of the town. On their margins, in many places, are pig-pens, stables, and other nuisances.

The country around, for miles, is very flat, and in some places swampy. The soil is generally sandy, and readily absorbs fluids when poured upon it. In the outskirts of the town, and the country surrounding it, where the population is sparse, and buildings few and scattering, and where the surface is covered with vegetable growth, intermittent and remittent fevers prevail to a considerable extent during the months of August, September and October; but in the settled and built up portions of the town, especially among those living on paved streets, such diseases are of rare occurrence. Typhoid fevers are very rarely met with, for in a practice of fifteen years we have not seen as many cases.

On the whole, the population is of a better class than is usually found in seaport towns of equal size. Composed for the most part of well educated mechanics, and respectable laborers, who find employment at the government works at [80] the Gosport Navy Yard, where first rate wages and constant work is obtained, they are enabled to supply themselves comfortably with house room, and to procure proper food and clothing. With a few exceptions, and it is only within the last five years that we have met with them, there is none of that overcrowding, so common in our larger cities. Notwithstanding but few of the streets are paved, they are usually clean. They are all wide, and intersect each other at right angles, forming squares of equal size throughout the town. There are no lanes, nor are there any courts to be filled, as they generally are, with dirt and destitution. As a general rule, one house accommodates a single family, and there is no lack of proper ventilation. The supply of water for the use of the inhabitants is obtained from pumps, wells and cisterns, and is usually wholesome and abundant. The markets, through the summer, are abundantly supplied with fruits, vegetables, and fish of various kinds. In no place can these indispensable articles of food be had of better quality, and the prices at which they are sold are so reasonable, as to put them within the reach of all. A man must be poor indeed who wants for a sufficiency of good nutritious food at any season of the year.

The population of Portsmouth at the last census was near nine thousand, but having increased largely within the last five years, it must have been about ten or eleven thousand when the fever made its appearance. Of this number, about one-fourth were blacks, being a smaller proportion than is commonly found in southern towns. In Gosport, where there are about sixty houses, some six hundred of the inhabitants reside, and among them may be classed some of the worst population of the town. A very large proportion of its residents is made up of Irish, who have recently come to this country, and have not been here sufficiently long to become acclimated. Nor have they forgotten the mode of life to which they were accustomed in their native country, for they live huddled [81] together in small close apartments, in which no regard is paid by them to cleanliness, or to ventilation.

The ship yard of Page & Allen, being the point to which the fever was first traced, will occupy a prominent position in this memoir. It is situated in Gosport, and has a frontage of four or five hundred feet on the river. Its boundary runs along Water street, to the same extent. Formerly a large foreign trade, particularly with the West Indies, was carried on at this spot. The wharf has been built many years, and is now going to decay rapidly. The pine logs, of which it was originally constructed, are now rotten, and their pores saturated with water. The whole surface is covered to a depth of several inches with chips, shavings, and other debris of a ship building establishment. A small dock, which penetrates the wharf on the front, is nearly filled up with materials of a similar description. Near the end of the wharf, and fronting on the river some two hundred feet, stands an old brick warehouse, three stories in height. This building, for many years unoccupied, has of late been used as a workshop in one part of it, and as a stable in another. The upper stories are very little used, and nearly all the time closed. Immediately in the rear of this old house, and running along its whole length, with a width of thirty or forty feet, was formerly a clock, into which the tide flowed freely, with a depth of water sufficient for lighters and other flat boats. The bed of this dock was soft and muddy. Within the last five years, by making it a receptacle of the refuse materials of the ship yard, this dock has also been filled up. In this way an extensive mass of woody matter, several feet deep, has been formed, upon which the rain and river water, and the burning rays of a southern sun are constantly acting. On the Water street front there are four houses, three of which are used as dwellings and boarding houses, and the remaining one as an office for the proprietors. There is still another dock on the premises, at the foot of Randolph street, whose condition is very much [82] the same as those before referred to. This establishment gives employment to about an hundred men, by far the greater number of whom came from the north, particularly from the State of Maine, to seek employment, and are entirely unaccustomed to a southern climate.

On Water street, opposite the ship yard, and distant only a few yards, is located a row of three story brick buildings, eight in number. This block of buildings was built five or six years ago, and is familiarly called "Leigh's," or "Irish row;" and the tenements of which it is composed, are exclusively occupied by Irish, of the very lowest description. They are filled to their utmost capacity with people regardless alike of cleanliness and comfort. We do not assert a fact likely to be controverted, when we say that each room in every house lodged a family, and that the population of the "row," at the breaking out of the epidemic, exceeded two hundred. The basements of these houses are occupied as low groggeries, and abound in filth and noisome odors. The back lots, which extended to the marsh on the west, were in keeping with the other parts of the premises. The habitations of the pig, that favorite animal of the Irish peasantry, were numerous, and in close companionship with cow sheds, and other nuisances. All the lots were insufferably filthy and disgusting; and if their condition was not such as would breed a pestilence, it certainly was well calculated to feed one. The remaining portions of Gosport were as clean as any other parts of the town, at the period of which we write.

Newtown, as its name implies, has been recently built up. Here the streets are very wide, and the site on which it is built is perfectly flat; and after a rainy season, very wet and muddy. Three-fourths of its boundary consist of marsh, the whole of which, at low tide, is uncovered with water, and exposed to the sun. The houses are scattering, and with very few exceptions, built of wood. They are comfortably designed, and provision is made in them to [83] insure free ventilation. There is very little of the overcrowding alluded to in our description of Gosport, to be met with here; and the inhabitants are cleanly in their persons and in their dwellings. The population of this suburb consists almost exclusively of the employees of the Navy Yard, and their families.

Adjoining Gosport, and forming its southern boundary, is situated the Government Navy Yard. Its front, on Lincoln street, running east and west, is improved by a high brick building, probably six hundred feet long, having a single opening, forming the main entrance to the Yard. This gate opens at the foot of Water street, and a guard composed of watchmen and marines, is maintained at this point day and night. A very large part of the site of the Yard is made ground, and especially is it so in the vicinity of the barracks, where the marines are quartered. Mud obtained by digging out the dry dock, and by dredging the river, and bark, chips, shavings, and such like materials from the various work-shops, were used for filling in and grading. It is now well graded and drained, and kept in most excellent order; and unless the nature of the new-made ground is looked upon as such, nowhere are there fewer sources to be found, to which to refer the origin of

At the south-eastern part of Portsmouth proper, near the head of Gosport bridge, is the wood wharf, fronting on the river, and haying to the south a border of marsh, and on the north a dock, from the upper part of which at very low tides the water recedes, so as to expose the bottom. This dock was built about five years since, and the mud obtained from it was thrown on the marsh lots adjoining on the north. These last are still low, wet, and spongy; they front on Crawford street, and on them is built a row of ten or twelve tenements, occupied in the upper parts as residences, and below as low groceries and drinking-houses. The premises in the rear are very wet and filthy, and so are [84] the under-ground basements which they all have. The vegetable and fish market is held in front of these buildings.

Having given a topographical sketch of the localities in the neighborhood in which the fever originated, and raged with such great violence, it will be interesting, as having considerable bearing on the subject, to say something of the range of the thermometer, the course of the winds, and the state of the tide for the period of time immediately preceding and succeeding the appearance of the epidemic. We have annexed below a meteorological table for the months of June and July, showing the degree of heat and currents of wind prevailing at that time. By the kind permission of Surgeon Minor, we have been allowed to extract them from the Journal of the United States Naval Hospital, under his charge. By reference to them, it will be seen that the heat was excessive, particularly towards the end of June, and beginning of July, averaging at 3 P. M. of the former period 88-1/2°, and of the latter 88°. The lowest tides in the vicinity of Portsmouth are produced by strong south or south-west winds; and it is worthy of remark, that for a long series of days the wind blew from that direction. As was to be expected, the beds of the creeks and small streams, the margins of the rivers, and many of the docks, from the lowness of the tides, were constantly exposed to a parching sun, while the thermometer marked a degree of heat rarely paralleled heretofore. By this combination of circumstances, the exhalation of effluvia from the shores and marshes, more or less offensive in their character, was produced. In other respects, the state of the atmosphere presented no unusual phenomena, and the public health was as good as it is ordinarily at the same season.

Page 85 Meteorological Table


In the preceding chapter we have endeavored to give an accurate description of Portsmouth towards the latter end of June. Inasmuch as the Ben Franklin is commonly looked upon as the source of all her woes, it is interesting to have some account of that vessel. At one time we were disposed to ascribe the origin of the fever solely to her; but on a more thorough investigation into the first cases of the disease which developed themselves, we are inclined to the opinion that the part she played in the production of the late fatal epidemic, was a subsidiary one. But anxious to put all the facts connected with it before the country, we shall try to collect every material fact bearing upon the subject, and record them with impartiality, in order to afford full data on which a correct judgment may be formed.

Some days prior to the 21st of June, the Ben Franklin arrived at the port of Norfolk and Portsmouth, coming last from the Island of St. Thomas, where, on her departure, the yellow fever was prevailing to some extent. Immediately on her arrival she was visited by the health officer of Norfolk. Coming from an infected port, and having had two deaths on board during her passage, that officer conceived it to be his duty to place her in quarantine. While undergoing quarantine she was not free from disease; for one of her crow sickened and died on board at that time, and was clandestinely buried in the woods, opposite her anchorage. Before she got into port, while off Old Point Comfort, all her passengers left her, and she had scared reached the harbor when the greater part of her crew deserted.

[87] Her captain assured the health officer that there had been no case of yellow fever on board during her voyage, and that there was none on board at that time. The two deaths before mentioned were produced by causes entirely different from that disease. One of the men expired suddenly, from disease of the heart, and the other, consenting to take the place of fireman, to the arduous and exhausting labors of which vocation he was entirely unaccustomed, was overcome by heat, and in that condition died. In what manner the man came to his death, who was buried in the woods, we have been unable to ascertain; but from the secrecy maintained in regard to the matter, it is fair to presume, that he died of some infectious disease.

Such was the condition of affairs on the 21st day of June, when, with the consent of the Norfolk Board of Health, the health officer granted permission for her to go to Gosport. upon the captain's promise that her hold should not be broken out, and that only outside repairs should be done to her. She accordingly proceeded to Page & Allen's ship yard, on the same day, for the purpose of being overhauled.

After reaching the wharf at Gosport, the bilge-water was pumped out of her, (In an account of the yellow fever as it appeared on the ship General Greene, at Newport, R. I., in June, 1799, it is stated that "one young man and two boys, who bathed near her when her bilge water was pumped out, were attacked with the disease, and died.) part of her stores were brought on deck, and a portion of her ballast discharged upon the wharf. A large number of men were working in the immediate vicinity where this occurred. Now it was that her repairs were commenced. Hands were sent down into the hold to work on her engines and boilers, and continued thus employed as long as she remained at the yard. Carpenters were busy about her decks, and in repairing her masts and spars. No apprehensions at her presence were entertained until Sunday, July 8th, a day that will be long remembered by every citizen of Portsmouth. A young man—Carter—a machinist by trade, coming from the city of Richmond, in search of employment, was engaged to assist in [88] repairing the machinery. He went to work on the 3rd of July, and was thus employed all that day. The 4th being a holiday, he kept it as such, and spent the day at Old Point, where he indulged freely. On the next day he was taken sick, having the ordinary symptoms of fever. Nothing calculated to attract the attention of his physician to his case as being at all extraordinary was noticed until the morning of the 8th, when it assumed an alarming aspect. Then it was that unmistakable symptoms of yellow fever were developed. The attendance of several medical gentlemen in consultation was requested, and among them were Dr. Thomas Williamson and Dr. Greene, both belonging to the Navy. These gentlemen had seen much of that disease during their connection with the naval service. The case was thoroughly examined, and a minute inspection of the matter ejected from the stomach was had. There was no difference of opinion among them. It was pronounced to be genuine yellow fever, and the matter true black vomit. The poor fellow survived but a few hours, and died in the afternoon of the same day.

Such is the history of the first case of malignant fever which was known to the community at that time. The subject of it was a stranger, and had been but a few days in the place. He boarded in Gosport, on Water street, some sixty yards from the Navy Yard gate, and about the same distance from Page & Allen's ship yard. He had worked only a single day in the hold of the Ben Franklin. The fact becoming public that a man had died of yellow fever, accompanied with black vomit, spread rapidly throughout the community, and created the most intense excitement. The matter formed the subject of discussion among groups at the corners of the streets, and instantly fear and consternation seized hold on the public mind. The imagination could little divine what terribly awful results would ensue from this small beginning. Sunday though it was, the town Council were convened in extraordinary session, [89] and the case officially reported to them. The concurrent testimony of the physicians who had seen the patient was of such a character as to leave no doubt as to the nature of the disease which had terminated Carter's life. A resolution, directing the town Sergeant to cause the immediate removal of the Ben Franklin to the quarantine ground, was offered, and unanimously adopted; for all came to the conclusion at once that she was the source of the disease. The order of the Board was carried out on the same day, though not without much opposition on the part of the captain, who, after obtaining legal advice, finally acquiesced in the action of the authorities.

At the request of Captain Harrison, who had assumed command of the steamer after her arrival at Norfolk, we visited that vessel on the 12th of July, and in company with him, thoroughly examined her. So far as it was possible to judge by such an examination, she appeared to be in a healthy condition. She certainly was clean, and there were no disagreeable odors, either about her decks or in her holds or engine rooms. There was very little water standing in her bilge, and such as was there, we ascertained to be clean and sweet. Whether made so for the occasion of our visit, we will not pretend to say; but she certainly was in as good condition as sea-going vessels usually are, and we gave him a paper to that effect, in order to aid him in obtaining a clearance from the, port, as he expected to be able to sail on the next day. The captain informed us that the repairs were still going on, and that mechanics had been at work in her engine-rooms every day since the return of the steamer to quarantine, and that among them there had been no case of sickness of any kind, of which he was aware.

We have said that Carter's case was the first one of which the people were cognizant. After his death, on making further investigation, it was ascertained that even prior to [90] his attack, there had been several cases of yellow fever. Of these we will have something to say hereafter.

There is another incident connected with this vessel, which is worth relating. Towards the close of July, subsequent, of course, to her dismissal from Portsmouth, a lighter loaded with wood, in charge of Elvy Trotter, a negro, and Noah Wickins, a mulatto, on her way to market, at Norfolk, was hailed from the steamer, and induced to go alongside. The wood was purchased for the use of that vessel, and the two men remained to deliver it, intending to get off the same day. In this they were disappointed, for a storm coming on, they were compelled to remain on board all night. Having slept on the deck of the steamer, they departed for home next day, Wednesday, and reached it, at Bower's Hill, distant eight miles, on Thursday. They both were taken sick on the day of their arrival. The symptoms were so well marked, that the character of the fever under which they suffered could not be mistaken. Both of them died on the seventh day of their illness. Neither of these men had been to Norfolk or Portsmouth.


Several times within the last five years there have been cases ot yellow fever in Portsmouth and the adjacent country. Although they were few in number, they presented the peculiar combination of symptoms which characterizes that disease.

In September, 1852, several cases of yellow fever were admitted into the wards of the United States Marine Hospital, near Norfolk, then under our charge. We have before us the record of these cases, made at the time. On referring to it we find that William Thomas, aged 22, native and citizen of Virginia, was admitted on the 4th September, with fever, which continued without amendment, in spite of the remedies used, until the 9th, on which day he died. The entry in the Journal on this last mentioned day says, that "Thomas was frantic all last night, and frequently screaming. Is now comatose. Pulse very feeble. Has great difficulty in swallowing. Discharges from his bowels frequent, watery and involuntary. Skin lemon-colored, pupils dilated, andeyes jaundiced. Vomits a black fluid resembling coffee grounds." After death his skin assumed a bright lemon tinge.

Sept. 19. Admitted John Gannon, aged 15, resident of Virginia, with fever. Has been sick two days, during the whole of which time has had profuse bleeding from the nose. The hemorrhage continued until his death, which occurred at midnight of the day on which he came into the hospital, with convulsions.

Sept. 27. Admitted Edward Williams, aged 27, resident [92] of Virginia, with fever. This man had been on an excursion to Alexandria with a fire company, and had slept on the deck of the vessel in which he went, several nights. He was stupid on his admission, and evidently in a hopeless condition. He died on the next day, in the afternoon, having ejected black vomit very profusely.

Cases of this character were not confined to seafaring men. Among the citizens of Portsmouth they were sufficiently numerous to attract the attention of the medical faculty. Dr. John P. Young, one of the most prominent physicians of the place, it is thought, died of yellow fever. The symptoms characterizing his illness were very suspicious. The excessive prostration, and sudden giving away of the powers of life, the sense of sinking, irritability of stomach, and the lemon tinge of the skin, more particularly conspicuous after death, were quite sufficient to indicate the nature of his disease. He had been sick but two or three days, and neither he nor his family supposed him ill. He had not even asked the attendance of a brother practitioner, though he was seen by one on the morning of the day on which he died. His critical condition was made known to his friends. At 3 o'clock in the afternoon he got out of bed to go to the close stool, when he fainted; and notwithstanding the free use of stimulants externally, as well as internally, the system never rallied, and he breathed his last at 8 o'clock P. M.

Mrs. C., a most estimable citizen of Portsmouth, where she had resided for many years, was buried on the same day on which Dr. Young died. She sunk under an attack, in all essential respects, identical with that which carried him off. And so it was with Mrs. S. and Miss B. Each of these ladies suffered greatly from gastric distress and irritability, and ejected from the stomach matter of a dark flocculose character, very much resembling black vomit. These cases occurred late in October, which probably accounts for the limited prevalence of the disease at that time.

In the summer of 1854, the French steamer Chimere arrived in the harbor, with the fever raging to an alarming extent among her crew. With the exception of the native West India negroes, nearly every person on board was attacked, and the mortality was very great. She had come from the West Indies, and was immediately on her arrival put in quarantine. The sick were at once removed to the United States Naval Hospital, then under the charge of Surgeon Thos. Williamson, an eminent physician, whose experience in this disease was very great, and Dr. James F. Harrison, his accomplished assistant. There were no other cases at the hospital except those brought from the French steamer, and we only refer to her now for the purpose of introducing several cases of the disease, which occurred at that time, and which we think can be certainly traced to her.

While the Chimere lay at her anchorage, a large number of glass jars, filled with preserved provisions, which had become spoiled, were thrown overboard from her. Many of these were carried by the tide to the shore bordering the farm occupied by the family of Mr. H. H. Bate, and were collected and taken to his house. Mrs. Bate, assisted by her nephew, a youth about eighteen years old, emptied and cleansed quite a large number of them. After a lapse of a few days both sickened, and within five days after, they both died: the nephew on one day, and Mrs. Bate on the next. We did not see the young man until after death. From the history of his case, as detailed by his attending physician, and from the peculiar tinge presented by the corpse, we have no hesitation in pronouncing his case to have been yellow fever. We saw the lady about twelve hours before she died, and found her situation such as to preclude all hope of her recovery. At the very inception of her attack the nervous prostration was excessive. She complained much of oppression about the prœcordia. The desire for cold drinks was urgent, though she was unable to [94] retain anything on her stomach, and the disposition to emesis was persistent. The fluid thrown off from the stomach partook of all the characteristics of genuine black vomit, and after death her skin became intensely yellow. Mr. Bate himself did not escape its invasion, but suffered much less than either his wife or his nephew, and ultimately recovered.

Cotemporaneous with the sickness in Mr. Bate's family, there were several similar cases, though not so severe, on the farm of Mr. L. Gayle, lying on the river, some half a mile or more from Mr. Bate's residence. A quantity of raw cotton had floated upon his shore. It was gathered up by members of his family, and carried into his yard, where it was spread out to dry. Three or four of the younger members of the family were taken sick, but the disease in them assumed a mild form, and they all recovered. It is a curious fact connected with the sickness at Mr. Gayle's, that no one had the fever except those who had handled the cotton, and of those every one took it.

Mrs. Fox, living a quarter of a mile from Mr. Bate, on a point of land formed by the bifurcation of Scott's creek, was also taken with the fever, about the same time. Like the cases before detailed, she had high fever for two or three days, loss of strength, headache, gastric distress, and constant vomiting. On the third day the fever left her, the pain of head passed off, the nausea and sick stomach became gradually less, and she convalesced rapidly.

We have the particulars of no other cases of yellow fever, occurring within the last five years. The late Dr. Trugien informed us that he attended a young man, on County street, near the Gosport bridge, in 1834, who died of that disease, but we have no report of the case.


In past years Norfolk and Portsmouth have suffered severely from visitations of this disease. After much inquiry we have not been enabled to find an account of any previous epidemic in the latter place. With regard to Norfolk, we have been more fortunate, and although we do not propose to treat on the fever as it appeared in that city during the last summer, still we shall make free use of the history of former epidemics, for the purpose of shedding light on the origin of the one, which has so recently fatally afflicted both cities.

In the Medical Repository, volume 4, No. 4, and article 1, is a most interesting paper, furnished by Drs. Selden and Whitehead, which minutely details the origin and progress of the fever, as it appeared in Norfolk in the year 1800. To the extracts which we shall make from this memoir, we invite particular attention. The circumstances attending the epidemic of that year, as detailed by those gentlemen, bear a marked and striking resemblance to those accompanying the epidemic which so signally afflicted the people of both places during the summer and fall of the year which has just closed, and particularly is it so with regard to the topography of the locality where the disease first made its appearance:—

"The local circumstances, both permanent and accidental, previous to the appearance of the disease, and during, its progress, which have been known in other places to affect the health of the inhabitants," are very interesting, and [96] taken in connexion with events of a recent date, well calculated to afford much information.

In giving a description of the city in the year 1800, they say, ''The ground upon which the principal part of Norfolk stands, forms a kind of peninsula of an oblong figure, the Main street, ranging with the course of the Elizabeth river, runs along the ridge of this peninsula, forming its longest diameter. It is not paved, nor are any of the other streets or alleys, one small lane only excepted, and the soil being chiefly a red clay, mixed with sand, renders them, in rainy weather, very muddy."

And they go on to say, that "the line which marks out the boundary of Norfolk, on the side near the river, comprehended originally more water than land, on the side of the Main street. In some places the wharves are advanced upwards of one hundred yards into the river as far as this boundary line, in others they are not yet carried so far, while in some parts no attempt has yet been made to disturb the orginal possession of the river. But that part of the town where the malignant fever principally prevailed stands entirely on made ground, reclaimed from the river by sinking pens of large logs, and filling them chiefly with green pine saplings, which are slightly covered with earth or gravel. In some places large openings are left for the formation of docks; in others wharves are formed next to the channel of the river, while the more interior parts are still covered with water; and, in many others, the lots remain in their original state, so that, from these circumstances and the loose texture of the work, the water of the river penetrates, at every tide, through the whole extent of the wooden fabric, which is thus alternately exposed to the action of the water and air, assisted by the powerful rays of an almost vertical sun."

And again:—"The means of ventilation and cleanliness have been neglected, proper places for streets have not been left, and what has been marked out for that purpose, is, in [97] several places, not yet filled up, though the private property around is completely occupied with buildings. In the only tolerable street in this part of the town there are two places, in a very public situation, about twenty yards each in length, and eight or nine in breadth, which have never yet been filled up with other materials than what accident has carried thither, and the filth of the neighborhood, for which they serve as the common receptacle. In these ponds, or rather sinks of putrefaction, though sixty yards or more from the river, the tide ebbs and flows through the open texture of the adjacent reclaimed ground: yet, at low water, they are never entirely dry, but form an agreeable retreat for the neighboring hogs. The effluvia which were exhaled from these, and similar places, during the warm months of summer and autumn, were indeed highly offensive. The malignant fever first made its appearance about twenty yards from these offensive pools, in a wooden house resting upon logs, the ground under it not being raised to the level with the adjacent land, and which was always partly covered with water, and completely overflowed twice in twenty-four hours by the tide."

The arrival, on the 21st, 22d, and 23d days of July, of three vessels from the West Indies, loaded with fruit, is recorded by them. Their cargoes were in a very bad condition. A large portion of the oranges and limes of which they consisted were in a state of putrefaction, and were, in that state, landed at Commerce street wharf, about sixty yards from the pools, or ponds above described. The casks were opened, and picked on the quay, and the rotten fruit, and the materials with which they were packed, left on the same spot for many days. The smell arising from this filthy mass of vegetable matter was highly offensive. "Two young gentlemen employed in a vendue office at the spot where the fruit was landed, and by whom it had been picked, and repacked for public sale, and near the window of whose chamber the above-mentioned putrid vegetable mass had been for [98] some time lying, were the first attacked on this street, on the 26th July; and both dying with the usual symptoms of yellow fever, in its most malignant form, occasioned no small apprehension. Several, indeed, had died some days before, after a short illness; but these being mostly sailors, in obscure boarding houses, and not regularly attended by any physician, had drawn but little attention." According to the same authorities, the spring and summer of that year were remarkable for the high degree of heat which characterized them. As early as April the thermometer of Fahrenheit had marked 90°, and about the 20th of June it had become steadily hot, and so continued until after the middle of August, with little variation. Their remarks in relation to the course of the winds are particularly interesting when viewed in connexion with the meteorological table for June and July, 1855. How marked the similarity:—"Southerly winds prevailed, which were always light, and often interrupted with calms; nor did we once experience, during that period, the northwest wind, which usually succeeds rains and tornados at this season; which proves so refreshing and invigorating, and which suspends for some time the too powerful influence of the sun in a sultry climate. Rains had been very frequent in June and July, but instead of cooling the atmosphere, it was observed that they were invariably followed by more intense heat. For more than two months after the 25th of June the inhabitants of Norfolk lived in an atmosphere heated above the 85th degree of Fahrenheit. Sometimes to the 94th and 95th, but very frequently upwards of 90 degrees."

Just so was it in Portsmouth in 1855. There had been frequent falls of rain in April and May. A long dry spell, terminating in a season of sultry heat, succeeded. As early as June 6th the thermometer marked 80°, and on the 7th it had gone up to 84°. After the 14th the heat was almost stifling, and at some period of every day, for the remainder of the month, it was as high as 80°; for eleven days of the [99] sixteen it reached 85° and upwards, and for the four last days of the month it was, respectively, 89°, 92°, 92°, 92°. The winds were almost invariably from the south or west, and only blew from the northwest on the 4th and 10th, up to which time there had been no case of yellow fever. The breezes were generally light, and often there were calms for several days in succession.

The heat during July exceeded that of June. For twelve days the mercury reached 90° and upwards, and for the greater part of this time 94° and 96°. Excepting the 9th, 11th, 16th, and 17th of July, when it was from the northwest or northeast, the wind blew constantly from the south or west, and for days in succession it continued to blow from the same quarter. To use the language of Drs. Selden and Whitehead, "such a long tract of intensely hot weather, is not, we believe, within the remembrance of any one now living in this place; and its effects on the health of the inhabitants, must, of necessity, have been very considerable."

The ships from the West Indies, alluded to by them, arrived on the 21st, 22d, and 23d of July; but several had died previous to the 20th. So, although the nature of their cargoes was such as would add fuel to the fire, yet it could not be said that they originally kindled the flame. These first cases, like those to be referred to hereafter, as occurring on the 24th and 30th June last, did not create much alarm. But when others of a type more decidedly malignant, as Carter's, on the 8th of July, presented themselves, a most profound sensation ensued.

On the 22d July, before any suspicions of the presence of a malignant epidemic were entertained, Dr. Selden was called to see Thomas Bailey, a sailor, then in the 3d day of his sickness. "His eyes were much inflamed, and watery, his tongue moist, and furred, and his countenance expressive of great anxiety and distress. He was extremely restless, and complained of intolerable pain over his brows, great oppression about the prœcordia, and a sensation of burning in the [100] region of the stomach. The heat of body was much increased above the natural standard, his face was flushed, and his pulse was more remarkable for frequency than strength." In spite of active treatment, the burning sensation about his stomach was more aggravated, the vomiting became incessant—the matter thrown up being of a dark color—the strength sunk rapidly, while the skin assumed a yellow hue, and the disease hastened to a fatal termination, with symptoms unusual to the febrile diseases of ordinary seasons.

The case just described, like that of Carter, in the minds of the public, marked the beginning of the epidemic. In a few days the cases became more and more numerous, and every physician had more or less of them on his lists. Those first attacked had the disease in its most violent form, and many of them sank under it. In the vicinity where it originated the business houses were pretty soon closed, and in less than a week, intent on seeking a place of safety, a large number of the citizens of Norfolk fled the city.

The native born residents, although not exempt from its invasion, suffered comparatively little, when they were seized by the fever. Immigrants from Europe, and from the northern States of the Union, were peculiarly susceptible of the disease, and in them it displayed itself in its most malignant form. In others it put on a milder form, and the old natives of Norfolk enjoyed an almost entire immunity, taking the disease in a very mild way, when attacked; but generally enjoying as much health as they were accustomed to at the same season of the year. The negroes did not escape: many of them sickened, and some died under it.

The disease continued to rage with more or less intensity until the middle of August, varying with the state of the weather; at which time, all other diseases were merged in the prevailing epidemic, and it was the only species of sickness to be met with. The history of the decline of the disease, (as will be shown hereafter,) in its details, coincides very nearly with those of the fever of 1855. The memoir [101] from which we quote goes on to say, that "on the 4th of September the thermometer stood at sixty degrees in the warmest part of the day. Attacks of the fever were less frequent at this period, but there was little alteration as to the form or the severity of the disease. The number of cases was diminished, evidently from one cause—the lessened number of the subjects susceptible of this form of fever. About the middle of the month it again became sultry, rains became frequent, and the heat of the sun oppressive; and although the number of new cases was very sensibly decreased, yet no vessel arrived from Europe or the northern States, without some of the crew being immediately affected with the prevailing complaint."

"On the 5th of October a deluge of rain fell, accompanied with a powerful sweeping wind from the north-east. The weather became suddenly very cold; the mercury fell to 43 degrees on the morning of the 6th, and on the 7th it was as low as 42 degrees of Fahrenheit. In a few days after this not a vestige of yellow fever was to be seen in Norfolk. * * * The weather became hot again on the 12th and 13th, (on the latter day the mercury stood at 80 degrees in the shade, and it was oppressively hot in the sun,) and continued until the 20th. The cessation of the fever in the early part of this month induced those who had removed to return, and strangers began to visit us after the 15th, several of whom were attacked with this fatal disease, and not being aware of its existence, neglected themselves in the commencement, and in many instances, fell victims to it; but since the 30th, all descriptions of persons have enjoyed uninterrupted good health."

No correct bill of mortality was kept; but after the most careful investigation of gentlemen competent to the undertaking, it has been estimated that the total number of yellow fever deaths during that year did not exceed two hundred and fifty.

Drs. Hansford and Taylor, writing on the same subject, [102] (see page 206, 4th vol. Medical Repository,) say, that "this disease in its most malignant form, always originates on the river, or on low, new made ground, and in houses built on the docks; and in all cases begins with strangers and new settlers, affecting every one in proportion to his time of residence, and leaving the old inhabitants, not wholly exempt, yet proof against its destroying power. The natives of Virginia, and of the South, for the most part, escape with life. Those from higher latitudes oftener fall victims, and with Europeans and strangers, the fever is generally uncontrollable, depending more upon constitution for recovery, than the aid of medicine."

We have quoted thus at length from the papers of these physicians, whose reputation and character are personally known to many of the older citizens of Norfolk, for the purpose of showing that epidemic yellow fever has visited the seaports of Virginia, when there was no ground to suppose that it had been imported. For these gentlemen were all fixed in their belief that the fever of 1800 had an indigenous origin, and in this opinion they claim to be supported by all intelligent persons.

Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and some of the towns in the interior, all suffered from the ravages of yellow fever in the year of which we have been writing. So also did Charleston, but to no very great extent; the highest mortality for any one day being twelve, and the aggregate mortality for the season one hundred and thirty-four. The Hon. David Ramsay gives some facts in relation to the course of the fever for that year in the last named city. From his paper we extract the following: "The disputes about the origin of the yellow fever, which have agitated the northern States, have never existed in Charleston. There is but one opinion among the physicians and inhabitants, and that is, that the disease was neither imported nor contagious. This was the unanimous sentiment of the medical society, who in pursuance of it, gave their opinion to [103] the government last summer, that the rigid enforcement of the quarantine laws was by no means necessary on account of the yellow fever." He gives it as his opinion that the disease is a local one, and originates in Charleston.

At page 352, volume 4 of the Medical Repository, we have the opinion of the medical faculty of Baltimore relative to the domestic origin of the pestilential sickness in that city in the hot season of 1800. "After the most scrutinizing investigation," to use their own language, "the faculty have found no proof, or even cause of suspicion, that the fever which lately so unhappily afflicted our city was derived from foreign causes."

They cite various facts and circumstances, which fully prove that its origin was of a domestic nature. There were sufficient sources, from which the disease might have been derived, without going beyond the limits of the city to hunt them up. "The first persons who sickened had no communication with vessels engaged in foreign commerce, but were exposed to powerful local causes, and were attacked at such distances from each other, as to preclude the probability of any one of them having derived it from the other."

Numerous cases, which occurred before the fever became general, are referred to particularly by them, and which they endeavored in vain to trace to any vessels engaged in foreign commerce; but in all these cases there had been exposure on the part of the patients to causes of a local nature sufficiently powerful to produce the disease. A large proportion of them made their appearance in the vicinity of the cove at Fell's Point, to be described hereafter. It would be well to compare the description which the faculty of Baltimore give of Fell's Point with that of Gosport, in the first chapter of this narrative. The medical gentlemen composing that body looked upon the low marshy ground in the vicinity of the "Point," as furnishing the principal sources of the malignant disease of that year. It is described by them as follows :—"The cove, which extends from the [104] mouth of Jones' Falls to the interior parts of Fell's Point, the bottom of which was left bare by the recess of the tide, for some weeks immediately preceding the epidemic appearance of the fever. This was occasioned by the prevalence of north and east winds, which continued a great part of the summer, as may be perceived from a register of the weather during the season. Such is the situation of this pestilential cove, that all the filth conveyed into it by the west, northwest, and south, winds, must remain to stagnate and putrify under a summer's sun." The physicians living on the Point concurred in the opinion that the disease begun on the borders of this cove, the condition of which, was so offensive as to affect persons who had occasion to pass that way. The faculty looked upon the "docks in general, but more especially the interstices between the wharves, where the water stagnated, and afforded a proper matrix for the generation of pestilential effluvia, as other very important sources of infection. And, also, stagnant water in cellars and gutters, filthy alleys, and unpaved streets, ponds, and low grounds, and particularly the 'made ground' of which the wharves and lower parts of some of the streets are formed."

They are very decided in the expression of their views as to the domestic origin of the fever, and are sustained by the fact, that it did not exist in the more elevated parts of the city, remote from the sources of exhalation before alluded to. And by the progress of the disease itself, for wherever these nuisances existed, there the disease more abounded, and showed itself in its most virulent form.

Dr. De Rossett, of Wilmington, North Carolina, says, in writing of the epidemic, as it appeared in that town in the year 1800, "No suspicion has been expressed by persons of any description, of the importation, or contagiousness of the disease, as its origin, in every case, could be reasonably ascribed to local causes."

Galliopolis, situated on the Ohio river, was afflicted by a severe visitation of the fever in 1796, and many of the in- [105] habitants perished under its attacks. The town is located on a high bank on the west side of that river. A short time after the disease had disappeared from that place, it was visited by Mr. Andrew Elliot, who, in speaking of it, says: "This disorder certainly originated in the town, and in all probability from the filthiness of the inhabitants, added to an unusual quantity of animal and vegetable putrefaction in a number of small ponds and marshes within the village."

The village of New Design, near the Mississippi river, and distant from St. Louis twenty miles, lost fifty-seven out of a population of two hundred, from a visit of the yellow fever in 1797. The village is on high ground, but surrounded by ponds. The disease must have been indigenous, as no one had arrived in the village from any point where the fever prevailed for more than twelve months.

Mifflin county, Pennsylvania, was severely afflicted in the autumn of 1799, by the same disease, and many persons residing in Nitinay, and Bald Eagle valley, died of it. This valley is low, and abounds in ponds, the water of which, becoming extremely low from the dryness of the season, was stagnant and putrid, and very offensive to the smell. In their immediate vicinity the fever raged with great malignity. The cases were characterized by the coffee grounds vomit, and profuse discharges of blood from all the mucous surfaces.

According to the statements of a letter written by Dr. Richard Bayley to the Rev. Richard Channing Moore, the yellow fever of New York, in 1795, owed its origin to a similar set of causes. Dr. Bayley says, that "he has been uniform in his opinion as to the causes of its production— namely, the accumulation of every species of filth and perishable matter on the low and new made grounds on the south side of the city, and the abominable custom of filling up the docks with similar materials." In his opinion "such causes, aided by a moist atmosphere and a hot sun, could not fail of producing the most baneful exhalations, and that [106] their effects must necessarily be felt by those who were more immediately exposed to their influences." He goes on to name particular localities which suffered greatly from the effects of the fever, and among them the "wharf on which Mr. Delefisto's stores are erected," which was in a truly execrable state, and just in the condition to give birth to the "dock," or yellow fever. The same state of things brought back the disease in the following year, a detailed account of which may be found in his letter to Governor Jay, dated November 28, 1798, and published in the Medical Repository, vol. 1, page 121. On the 6th November, 1797, Governor Mifflin, of Pennsylvania, addressed a letter to the medical faculty of Philadelphia, asking of them a correct account of the origin, progress, and nature of the disease, which had then so recently afflicted that city. A reply was made to his communication by Drs. Rush, Coxe, Dewees, Physick, and others. We now have their answer before us, and shall call attention to some of the leading facts and opinions contained therein. These gentlemen looked upon the disease as the bilious remitting fever of warm climates, excited to a high degree of malignancy, and originating from the same cause—to wit, putrefaction. They were also of the opinion that, influenced by surrounding circumstances, an ordinary bilious attack would run into yellow fever. They also supposed both of these diseases, under certain states of the atmosphere, and predispositions of the system to be contagious; an opinion in which very few of the medical profession of the present day concur, and from which, as we shall show hereafter, Dr. Rush himself dissented, after a more close investigation of the subject. They did not view one attack as affording to the system an immunity against its recurrence.

On fully examining into the matter, they came to the conclusion that the epidemic owed its origin to several causes. And first, as being most important, to the "putrid exhalations" from the streets, gutters, ponds and low marshy [107] grounds in the neighborhood of the city. And in their belief as to the fruitfulness of this source in the production of fever, they were fully confirmed by the numerous accounts received by them of the prevalence of the same disease, induced by like causes, during the preceding summer and autumn in New York and in various parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina, not only on the seaboard but in the inland towns.

And in the second place, they supposed it to be derived from the noxious air emitted from the hold of the Snow Navigator, which arrived with a healthy crew from Marseilles on the 25th of July, after a passage of eighty days. The fever first appeared on board this vessel, and affected many in its immediate vicinity, caused no doubt by the effluvia emitted from a quantity of decayed fruit in her hold, some of which was in a state of putrefaction. The smell thus occasioned was so offensive as to affect persons several hundred yards from the wharf where she was lying. In support of this proposition, numerous examples of fever, generated in a like manner, are brought forward by them, which it is unnecessary to repeat here. With regard to the importation of the fever into the city by this vessel, as alledged by the medical faculty, we shall show by Dr. Rush himself that he recanted the opinion at a later day.

Since the year 1800, the yellow fever has prevailed to a great extent in many parts of the United States. In 1819, it again became epidemic in many sections of the country, extending as far north as Boston, where there were a few cases in September and October. In New York it was peculiarly malignant, and confined itself chiefly to Old Slip and vicinity on East river; the same locality which suffered so severely from it in 1797. The newspapers of that day described this neighborhood as abounding with the materials of putrefaction, and filled with a dense population unprovided with the necessaries and conveniences of life. In September, the grand jury presented, as prolific sources of fevers, [108] the Old Slip and vicinity, Fly Market, Peck Slip and Rosevelt Slip, which were said to be in a most filthy condition. "The Fly Market was built over a common sewer, which had no covering under the meat market except the floor, which was loosely laid; and on the sides of the market were a number of apertures in the sewer, which are receptacles of filth and garbage from the adjacent taverns, fruit stands and cook shops, creating offensive and pestilential effluvia, and infecting the atmosphere."

Up to the 21st of September there had been no cases out of the district designated by the board of health as infected, except three sailors belonging to the ship La Florentine, which had arrived on the 20th day of July and performed thirty days quarantine. She had come from Martinique, where the disease was prevailing, and was twenty days on her passage. She was permitted to come up to the city, and lie off in the stream on the 24th of August, and on the 1st of September two of her seamen were taken ill with yellow fever, when she was again sent to quarantine; whence she put to sea, and was forced to return on the 25th, having lost her captain in the meantime by an attack of the fever.

By the energetic action of the board of health, assisted and seconded in their exertions by the mayor, the infected districts were evacuated, and the premises cleansed and limed. The streets and alleys leading to them were boarded up, and in this manner the disease was localized, and for want of material on which to prey disappeared about the middle of October.

Concerning the fever of the same year, (1819,) in Philadelphia, in reply to enquiries made by Dr. Dyckman of New York, the board of health of the former city declared, that "all the sick were resident in the city, and that the disease had not been traced to any vessel or stranger arriving in the place from abroad."

Fell's Point, in Baltimore, again became infected with the disease in August 1819, and with the exception of Smith's [109] wharf, and a few scattering cases, it was confined to that locality. The subject was taken in hand by the municipal authorities. A joint committee of the councils was appointed to make diligent investigation into the origin and cause of the epidemic. They applied to the medical society for their opinion, which was given in these words: "The malignant fever which prevailed at Smith's wharf and at Fell's Point in the summer of 1819, in the opinion of this society, is to be ascribed to the decomposition of vegetable matters." The opinion is supported by the following facts. The alley back of Smith's wharf has been filled up with dock mud, shavings and other putrescent materials. The same remarks will apply to the construction of Smith's wharf generally, and also to those parts of the Point where the fever first appeared. The immense mass of materials just adverted to have been accumulating for many years. While the heat of the sun remained moderate, the destructive principle was only partially evolved; but the intense heat of the last summer reached the mass of perishable materials and gave origin to the disease. The bills of mortality reported three hundred and fifty deaths, caused by the epidemic of that year.

At Mobile it was also highly malignant and fatal in 1819. There, too, an investigation was had to determine with accuracy its origin, and to ascertain with certainty the extent of its ravages. Its local origin at that point was demonstrated beyond a doubt. The committee who took the matter in hand, refer particularly to the wharves, which were filled up with rotten logs, shavings and other vegetable matters, lightly covered with swamp mud—to Water street, filled up with materials of the same description—to the docks clogged with timber, old boats, sea weed, and other filthy substances in a state of decay, as prolific sources of malarious emanations. Owing to a long continuance of northerly winds in September and October the tides were very low, and the docks and a large extent of marsh were [110] left uncovered and exposed to the heat of the sun, thus causing the generation of offensive effluvia. Constant rains prevailed from 28th of July to 11th of September, which were succeeded by a drought and hot sun for sixty-six days. In the first instance the disease attacked only those employed about the river and wharves, but about the 10th of September it became general, attacking the Creoles and not even sparing the negroes. The sickness in the summer of this year was not confined to the cities on the seaboard, for among the inhabitants residing on the waters of the Tombigbee and Alabama rivers it was greater than ever before known; and in every instance, from investigations had at the time, it was ascertained that the causes producing it were of a local character.

Dr. Dyett, in a letter to Dr. Musgrave, dated at Montserrat, September 1, 1823, giving an account of the epidemic which prevailed there in 1821, says that it unquestionably was not imported. To use his language, "to the epidemic of 1821, a local origin must therefore be assigned; unhappily, local causes sufficient to account for its appearance existed at the moment." And again: "The weather was, and had been for many preceding weeks, intensely warm. The thermometer ranged in the shade from 89 to 96 degrees. No heavy rains had fallen, but the surface of the earth was daily moistened with light showers. In every corner of the town, but more particularly in the immediate vicinity of the house in which the epidemic first manifested its presence, heaps of animal and vegetable filth commingled, were suffered to accumulate. It is to the operation of these combined causes—to the production of a highly vitiated state of the atmosphere, arising from the action of extreme heat upon mixed animal and vegetable matters, in a state of putrefaction, and perhaps also to the extrication of miasmata from the drying surface of the earth, that I attribute the generation of our late formidable and concentrated epidemic."

[111] It will be remembered, that in our description of the condition of Page & Allen's ship yard, we referred to the state of the wharf as being covered over with chips, shavings, &c., and also described a dock, situated about the centre of the yard, equi-distant from the river front, and the dwellings on that part of the lot fronting on Water street, which had been recently filled up with materials of a similar character. How nearly identical the condition of this locality was with that which existed on board the British frigate Pyramus, when she suffered to such an alarming extent in 1821 and 1822, from the prevalence of yellow fever among her crew, will be seen by the annexed extract from an account of its origin and progress on board of that unfortunate vessel, written by Dr. Hartell, a most intelligent and zealous physician, at that time attached to the royal navy. This ship left Carlisle Bay, in the Island of Barbadoes, on the 19th of October, for St. Kitts, perfectly healthy. She remained at St. Kitts until the 28th, when she again sailed for the former place. Fever of a most alarming type appeared among her officers and crew a few days before her arrival at her destination, on the 1st of November. The purser and two of the men died almost immediately after coming into port, under all the characteristic symptoms—black vomit, and hæmorrhage from the nose, mouth and anus. The purser had nausea, but no vomiting, and bled profusely from the nose. At first Dr. Hartell could not account for the appearance of the disease. The disease had shown itself suddenly, and neither the officers nor crew had been exposed to any known predisposing cause. Very naturally he looked to the holds of the ship, to ascertain if there were no circumstances there then sufficient to account for its presence. Permission was given to have the holds examined, and Dr. Hartell embraced the opportunity to make a full investigation. "Anxious to ascertain, by ocular demonstration, the cause of the endemic, I daily visited the ship, and was present at the opening of the holds; the [112] effluvia from which surpassed anything I had ever before experienced." Dr. Hartell goes on to say: "Although I was fully persuaded in my own mind that the cause of the disease lay in the ship's bottom, I had no idea that such extensive bogs could have been found under the limber boards and between the timbers. It would appear scarcely credible, that four large mud boats of filth should be taken out of this frigate, which had been only six months from England, and, I believe, not long out of dock. This, however, is easily explained. The shipwrights had never taken out their chips and shavings—the coal tar, from the heat of the climate, had run into all her limber holes, and so cemented those chips and shavings, that no passage remained for the water to go to the well of the pumps; it therefore lay stagnant under a heat of one hundred degrees of Fahrenheit's thermometer. As soon as the limber boards were raised, I requested that the pumps should be worked. Both chain and hand pumps were used, and when they could no longer draw, the water and mud-like matter remained nine inches deep—just the depth of the timbers in the ship's bottom. Each of the holds presented similar matter; but the after magazine, which lay immediately under the gun room, surpassed them all: it appeared as if this confined place had been intentionally stuffed with chips and shavings, all of which lay in stagnant bilge water, mixed with coal tar. This readily accounts for the fact, that every officer's servant and servant of the gunroom mess suffered with the fever, and most of them died. During the process of expurgation, three of the blacks employed in cleaning out the ship were attacked by fever, evidently characteristic of that which prevailed among the ship's company.

A similar state of things in the year 1821, gave rise to a malignant fever on board his Majesty's armed transport Dasher, at the same place. The disease on board of this vessel was of the most virulent kind. The crew were imme- [113] diately taken out and encamped on a neighboring isthmus of land. After this the ballast was removed, and Dr. Hartell proceeded to make an examination of the ship's holds. He insisted on having the limber boards taken up, when to the astonishment of every one, the mischief was discovered. The effluvia arising from the hold was of the most offensive nature, and it was with difficulty that the blacks, who were accustomed to such work, could withstand its influence. The smell was putrid beyond conception. Shavings were found in large quantities between her timbers, which had so completely choked up the limber holes that the water lay stagnant. The vegetable matter was in a state of decomposition, and being acted upon by a high degree of heat, created neither more nor less than a marsh in the hold of the ship.

It is worthy of remark, that immediately on the removal of the crew, the disease disappeared from among them. On examination of the returns, it will be seen that the removal took place on the 26th September, and that the fever stopped at once. After the ship had been thoroughly cleansed, whitewashed and fumigated, the crew returned to her, and there was no recurrence of the fever.

The yellow fever which prevailed on board of the United States frigate General Greene in June, 1799, originated in the ship. She sailed from Newport, R. I., for Havana, on the 3d of that month, with a crew of two hundred and fourteen men, apparently in good health. She was a new ship, and leaked badly. Being overtaken by a storm after she had been out a few days, the leakage increased, and part of her provisions were damaged. The storm was succeeded by very hot weather, and the salt fish on board began to putrefy, contaminating the air to such an extent that candles would not burn in it. Notwithstanding the fish were thrown overboard, and means for cleansing and ventilating used, the fever invaded them on the 18th of the month. On the 4th of July, the ship arrived at Havana, when the [114] second lieutenant was attacked, becoming at once delirious, and vomiting incessantly a dark colored fluid. The case was evidently yellow fever. On the 12th she sailed for the United States, when the cases were so frequent and fatal in their termination, that consternation reigned throughout the vessel. The surgeon and the purser were the last victims, both of them dying with black vomit.

The origin and cause of this serious calamity must have been in the ship. They had held no communication with any vessel at sea, nor had they touched at any port on their voyage to Havana. The vessels lying in the port were unusually free from sickness, and the city of Havana was remarkably healthy. Neither had any intercourse been had with the city, or any vessels in the harbor.

[ 115] CHAPTER V.

Having thus given a topographical description of Portsmouth, and especially of that part of the town which seemed to have been more particularly infected with the fever; and having taken a retrospective view of several of the epidemics which have prevailed in past years, in various sections of the country; we are brought down to the consideration of the yellow fever epidemic, by which the inhabitants of Portsmouth and Gosport were so terribly afflicted in the summer and fall of the year through which we have just passed. It is a matter of much importance to determine with accuracy the cause which excited into action this most fatal pestilence. With a very large number of the citizens of that place, on the breaking out of the fever, we were disposed to look solely to the steamer Ben Franklin for that cause, and thought that the infection had been carried by her to Gosport. In the chapter devoted to a detail of the facts connected with the presence of that vessel in our port, we have given every thing, of which we are cognizant, having any bearing on the subject. Until we had bestowed more care and attention in investigating the matter, these circumstances appeared to be sufficient to sustain the community in the opinion which they had formed in relation to the agency of the steamer in the production of the fever; but upon a more full examination into the hygenic condition of the locality, in the vicinity of which the fever first made its appearance, and of the meteorological state of the atmosphere at that time, our first impressions have been done away with, and we have been forced to the conclusion that it was not imported, but was of domestic production. The [116] facts connected with the prevalence of yellow fever at Norfolk, Baltimore, and other places in former years, to which reference has already been made, fully sustain us in this proposition; and we are still further confirmed in the view which we just advanced, by the circumstances attending the first cases, of which any authentic information can be had.

The question of the non-contagiousness of yellow fever has been so fully settled by the course of the late epidemic, that we shall only advert to it very briefly in this memoir. In olden times the faculty were very much divided in opinion in relation to it, but the evidence going to show that no one ever contracts the disease from contact with an individual laboring under it, is so overwhelming, that very few, at the present day, believe in its contagiousness. Dr. Rush, the very best authority in this disease, did at one time entertain this belief, and, in his earlier writings, ably argues in its support; but a more intimate acquaintance with the disease convinced him of the error he had committed, and in a most lucid and able letter to Dr. Miller, dated October 8, 1802, he repudiated the views which he had labored so hard to propagate. He concludes in these words: "The yellow fever is not derived from specific contagion; it is always generated by putrefaction; it is not contagious in its simple state, and never was; is not, and, while the laws of nature retain their present order, never can be imported, so as to become an epidemic in any country." This is very strong language, but not stronger than the circumstances attending the progress of the late epidemic would warrant the use of at this time. In no instance coming under our observation did a case occur, when a suspicion of its being contracted by contagion, could, for a single moment, be entertained. If the knowledge of this (the true) doctrine of yellow fever had been generally prevalent, the country would have escaped the deep disgrace produced by the heartless brutality which characterized the proceedings of the authorities of Suffolk, Weldon, Isle of Wight county, and other places, with regard [117] to their quarantine regulations; and the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth would have been spared much of the suffering and death which befell their unfortunate inhabitants. We should have had no threats of the imposition of heavy fines on the fugitives from those plague-stricken cities: nor would practising physicians have refused to attend upon these same fugitives, when overtaken by the plague-fiend at their very doors, as did actually occur in at least one instance. Had the quarantine regulations of the above-named places been adopted generally, and rigidly enforced, as they were attempted to be by them, Norfolk and Portsmouth would have presented an aspect of horror only to be compared with the sufferings of the poor wrretches who were confined in the black hole at Calcutta. We do not advert to this subject for the purpose of producing irritation and unkind feeling, but solely with the view of inculcating the fact, that the universal testimony of all well informed physicians at the present day goes to prove that yellow fever cannot be propagated by contagion, and that, to take the disease, a person must be exposed to the atmosphere of the locality where the fever prevails.

Before proceeding to the narrative of the first cases of the fever which appeared in Portsmouth and vicinity during the last summer, we shall very briefly give our views as to the exciting causes to which it owes its origin. These may be readily surmised by an attentive perusal of what has been said in the preceding pages. We think the facts presented by the history of the same disease in other localities, in past years, warrant us in drawing the following conclusions:

1. That the condition of Page & Allen's wharf, particularly of the dock, to which we have before called attention, filled up as it was with an immense mass of vegetable matter, acted upon by water from the river, and by rains, in conjunction with the extreme heat which prevailed at the time, and also of the shores of the creeks, and the marshes in the same vicinity, exposed as they were to the burning [118] rays of the sun, had much to do with fomenting and bringing into action the malaria which gave birth to the pestilence.

2. That the filthy condition of the premises known as Fish Kow, the want of ventilation therein, and the over crowding of its inmates, rendered them peculiarly susceptible to the influence of the malaria.

3. That the heavy rains of April and May, followed by a long continued drought, with the prevalence, for many successive days, of calms, or light southerly winds, thus causing the tides to be continuously low for an unexampled period of time, furnished another element necessary for the formation of malaria; and

4. That the extreme degree of heat, for which June and July were so remarkable, supplied the last essential ingredient in the production of that noxious agent.

All authorities are concurrent in the opinion, that yellow fever only prevails in very hot weather; that a high degree of heat, of itself, is not equal to its origination; but that, in combination with it, there must be vegetable matter, undergoing the putrefactive process, by the aid of the presence of moisture. The generation of malaria by the combined action of these three elements, heat, vegetable matter, and moisture, is retarded by too free a supply of water. Low marshy grounds, even with intense heat, will not give rise to it if they are covered with water, because the emanations from the marsh are drowned by the stratum of water lying over it; but if the muddy bottom is just moistened and exposed directly to the sun's rays, a species of fermentation is the consequence, and the exhalation of effluvia actively promoted. This probably would not be so efficacious in the production of fever with a brisk circulation of the air, as from high winds, as it would be during the prevalence of calms, or light winds.

The presence of these elements, so necessary to the formation of malaria, was particularly to be noticed in Gosport, [119] where the fever took its rise, in the midst of a population ripe for the development of disease, by reason of so large a proportion of them being unacclimated and living huddled together in close, badly lighted and worse ventilated rooms. A close scrutiny into the history of this formidable disease, will establish the fact, that it never yet has made its advent in situations remote from wharves, docks, or low marshy and new made grounds, except on ship board, and there are to be found the same elements which exist in so great profusion in the localities just referred to. Whether or not the Ben Franklin had yellow fever on board when she arrived at Norfolk, we will not take it upon ourselves to declar ; but with a full consideration of all the circumstances connected ith the beginning of the epidemic, we do not hesitate to affirm it as our belief, that the yellow fever would have visited Norfolk and Portsmouth even if that steamer had never reached their shores. The facts associated with the history of the first cases which came to the knowledge of the profssion, will, we think, substantiate us in this position.

A detail of the cases of Carter and Jones has already been given in the chapter devoted to the Ben Franklin, as they seemed to have originated on board of that vessel; but as other cases which by no possibility could be traced to the same source occurred prior to them, it is fair to presume that even those two cases were not produced by causes existing in that ship. The Franklin, be it remembered, went to Gosport on the 21st of June, and immediately workmen went on board of her to execute repairs. Now if she was freighted with yellow fever malaria, ought there not to have been some cases of that disease developed before the third of July? And of the large number of hands working about her holds and engine rooms, would it not be reasonable to suppose that more than two of them would have become victims to the pestilential effluvia with which it is asserted she was filled? And again, Carter and Jones were as much exposed to the marsh malaria arising from the large masses of decomposing [120] vegetable matter, which abounded all over the ship yard, as they were to any emanations from the steamer; and would it not be more in consonance with truth to say that their sickness was due to this latter cause, more especially as others, similarly exposed, who had never been on board of the Ben Franklin, were seized with the same train of symptoms several days before they were? If this ship had been the only source from which epidemic influences were derived, ought not the first cases to have been traced directly to her beyond the shadow of a doubt?

On the 24th of June we were called upon to visit Mrs. Fox, sr., living on Scott's creek, in the same house where her daughter was sick in 1854, about one mile from Portsmouth. The point of land on which the dwelling of this lady is situated, is formed by the bifurcation of the creek, and has a marshy shore on three sides of it, at a very short distance from the house. She was about sixty-five years old, and a native of New Jersey, from which State she had but recently removed, and at the time of her being taken sick had only resided in Norfolk county about six weeks. The farm on which she resided was cultivated as a garden farm, entirely in vegetables and fruits, and at that time all around the house the ground was covered with decaying vegetable matter, particularly cucumbers, of which many thousands were rotting on the vines, within a stone's throw of her chamber.

The case at first presented the usual initiatory symptoms of congestive bilious fever more severely than were usually met with so early in the season; which we supposed was due to her recent arrival and want of acclimation. She complained greatly of pain in her head. The skin was hot and dry, and the thirst great. The tongue was large and flabby, and covered with a thick fur. The eyes were red and injected. The prostration was extreme, and the restlessness so excessive that it was with the utmost difficulty she could be kept upon her bed. The craving for cold [121] drinks and ice was persistent, and she was entirely unable to retain them after they were swallowed. The fever subsided after two or three days, but there was no amelioration of the symptoms. The distress of stomach increased and the vomiting continued, the matter ejected becoming dark and flocculent. On the fifth day the disturbance about the stomach passed off, and the brain assuming the burden of the disease she sunk into a deep stupor; and so continued until death closed the scene. After death the peculiar lemon tinge of skin, so characteristic of yellow fever, was very distinct.

We have been thus particular in recording this case, because it is the first which made its appearance, being in point of time six days anterior to any which occurred in Portsmouth. Though the neighborhood in which it appeared was very thickly settled, it was the only case which showed itself. The susceptibility to an attack in the person of the old lady, was owing no doubt to her recent residence in so warm a climate. As to the indigenous production of this first case, there can be but one opinion. The subject of it had never been to town after her arrival at her son's house, and had had no communication with the Ben Franklin nor any other vessel. It is true that the steamer, some five or six days before she was taken sick, was lying at quarantine in sight of the house, at the distance of nearly a mile; but it would hardly be contended that the malaria was carried so far through the air in potency sufficient to generate the fever, even admitting that the steamer was infected with it. And besides, if her attack is to be accounted for on this theory, how was it that other houses, lying between Mrs. Fox's and the anchorage of the Franklin, escaped? To have reached her residence, the wind must have blown from the north-east, and there were only two days in June on which it came from that quarter—the 16th and 11th—some seven or eight days before Mrs. Fox was attacked.

[122] The information in regard to the next cases of yellow fever, we obtained from the case book of our lamented friend, Dr. Trugien, who fell a victim to the pestilence. This list shows that he had at least three cases in a house on Page & Allen's wharf, fronting on Water street. The lot on which this house is built runs back to the dock, which we have before mentioned as being recently filled up with decaying vegetable matter, in shape of chips, shavings, &c. On the 30th of June, Dr. Trugien was called on to see Mrs. Brown, Eugene Riley and Robert Webb, who were all laboring under an attack of fever. Owing to the death of the attending physician, we have been unable to obtain the particulars of these cases, which in the investigation we are now engaged in would be peculiarly interesting. That they were cases of genuine yellow fever, there can be no doubt, from the subsequent history of the individuals who were the subjects of it. Mrs. Brown and Eugene Riley recovered, and although they remained in town during the whole season of the epidemic, residing in Gosport in the midst of disease and death, and acting as nurses under the employment of the Portsmouth Relief Association, suffered from no further invasion of the fever.

Robert Webb, the third patient, was a citizen of Petersburg, and a new comer. He seemed to get better in a few days after he was taken sick, so much so as to return to his work in the Navy Yard, and to be able to change his residence to Newtown, where in the course of a few days he died from a relapse; ejecting the black coffee-grounds matter copiously from the stomach. This was the first death occasioned by yellow fever, which occurred outside of the limits of Gosport; it will be noticed, however, that the fever was contracted there, and that the subject of it was a "newcomer," having resided in Portsmouth but a very short time. So far as we have been enabled to ascertain, there were no other cases which preceded Carter's. Thus far, we have information of five cases, of which three died; [123] and in every instance of death, the unfortunate individual was a "new comer."

While Mrs. Brown was sick, and before the nature of her illness was suspected, she was visited by a friend from Hampton, who remained to nurse her. Within a week she too was attacked by the same disease, and died in four or five days afterwards. The fever broke out in Irish Row as early as the 8th of July. John Cooke, who kept a small grocery in one of the basements, died on the 10th of the month, and Penelope Perkins, living in the same house with him, on the 11th. Robert Allen, whose residence was also in the "Row," sickened and died during the same week, as did also Ellen Conly. All these individuals were Irish immigrants, and not one of them had been at work on board the steamer.

The first case which we saw in Gosport was that of Jacob R. Race, a native of New Jersey, who had only been in that place a month or two, in the employment of Page & Allen. This man boarded in a house adjoining the ship yard, on Water street. He was taken on the 15th of July, and died on the 20th. In all the essential characteristics, it was as decided a case of yellow fever as we met with during the whole progress of the epidemic. In the same house our attention was called to William Mackey, also from New Jersey, and working with Race on the new ship then in process of construction. He complained only of feeling unwell, but being alarmed at the condition of his friend, he determined at once to return home, and accordingly left on the evening of the same day. On reaching Baltimore, his sickness being confirmed, he was compelled to stop, and before the close of the week he too died. Neither of these men had been employed on board the steamer. No native, resident had yet died, although the number of fatal cases had reached eight.

From this time the fever spread rapidly over Gosport, and very soon became epidemic. On the 20th of July, the mu-[124] nicipal authorities, apprehending the serious results likely to ensue from the impending calamity, instituted measures to abate all nuisances, and to cleanse and purify the streets and other foul localities. They appointed a sanitary committee, and clothed them with ample power to take all steps which they might deem necessary, not only to effect this end, but, if possible, to confine the disease to the bounds within which it was then prevailing. By their direction the north end of Water street, in Gosport, through which the employees of the yard residing in Portsmouth had to pass, was barricaded, and a police force maintained there, night and day, to prevent the ingress of any one to the infected districts. A thorough examination into the condition of the streets and lots was ordered, and, when it was required, lime was used in great profusion—probably not less than five hundred barrels were thus spread over the town.

The sanitary committee published the annexed notice on the 24th of the month:

For the purpose of allaying the general alarm, the Sanitary Committee appointed by a special meeting of the Common Council held on the 20th inst., have determined to report daily the state of the prevailing epidemic.

They request all the physicians to make up a report of their cases to sunset of each day, and have it at the Dispensary, No, 77 High street, directed to the Sanitary Committee.

From the returns of three physicians, there were under treatment at sunset on the 23d, eighteen cases. Up to the present time there have been eight deaths only. The disease is principally confined to Gosport, there being only a few cases in other parts of the town, and they originated in Gosport.
J. N. SCHOOLFIELD, Chairman.

These reports were daily made until the 9th of August; and were discontinued at that time, owing to the illness of the chairman of the committee, who had been attacked by the fever on the night preceding.

Notwithstanding all the means adopted with the view of restraining its ravages, the fever rapidly extended its bounds, and before the close of the month, there had been sixty-eight [125] cases, twenty-six of which had terminated fatally. Every case of fever which had occurred up to the 30th could be positively traced to Gosport, and at this time there was scarcely a house in that place in which the disease had not shown itself.

In continuing our narrative of the first cases, we come next to that of Frederick Godwin, living on the street leading from Page & Allen's yard west, and distant from that point eighty yards, and about the same distance from the house in which Race died. He lived with his father on Randolph street, in a large, airy house, on a high and dry street, but with a low marshy back lot. Frederick was the first of the family, consisting of seven adults, who took the disease. He was attacked on the 19th, and the congestion of the brain was so intense, that coma immediately supervened, and continued unabated until the day of his death, which happened on the 22d. The next case was that of E. Glenn, his brother-in-law, and within a day or two Mrs. Glenn also sickened. The former died in the morning, and the latter in the evening of the 26th. A panic seized the remaining members of the family. Mrs. Drewry quit the house, and fled to Southampton, where the fever overtook her on the day of her arrival, and proved fatal in three days. When, on the 27th, Mr. Godwin and Mrs. Jones were taken with the disease, their friends hoped that their lives might be saved by a removal into a healthy atmosphere. This was accordingly done, but to no purpose, for death speedily claimed them for his own. Mrs. Godwin, the sole surviving member of the family, was destined soon to drink of the same cup. On being taken with the fever on the 3d of August, she was carried to the Naval Hospital, where, in spite of the most unremitting kindness and attention extended to her, death closed the scene on the 6th. Thus, in the short space of eighteen days, was every member of this household hurried into eternity. Not one of these persons had been on board of the Ben Franklin, nor had they held any com- [126] munication with her. They were all native residents of Virginia, and had been citizens of the town for many years. In all these cases black vomit appeared as a prominent symptom.

All the inmates of the house adjoining Mr. Godwin's on the east, and of course nearer the ship-yard and the steamer, passed through the fever, and, strange as it may seem, not one of them died. The occupants of the house adjoining Godwin's on the west, four in number, moved from Gosport into Portsmouth, but not in time to escape. Every one of them suffered from the fever, and two of them died. In the house immediately opposite there were three cases and two deaths.

There are nine tenements on that part of Randolph street, which lies between Water street and the creek, flowing between Gosport and Newtown. It is particularly high and clean, and in front of the houses situated on it are a number of large trees, affording a delightful shade in warm weather. Six of these dwellings are on the southern side of the street, and have low and marshy back grounds attached to them. On the northern side are three only, having the marsh on the west; and on the north, distant but a few paces, the filthy back premises of "Irish Row." The epidemic raged in this locality with a virulence unparalleled. Forty-five persons, living in these houses, were attacked by the epidemic, and of this number twenty-five died.

Thirty cases terminated fatally prior to the 1st of August, seven of which occurred in native residents of Virginia, and of these only three were born in Portsmouth or its vicinity. Four were born in States north of the Potomac, and the remaining nineteen were foreign immigrants, principally from Ireland. This statement coincides with the history of previous yellow fever epidemics in other places, which uniformly proves that new comers, especially foreigners, not only are more liable to contract the disease, but also to have it in its most malignant form.

[127] While the fever was prevailing with such fatal results in Randolph street, "Irish Row" was suffering to an extent equally alarming. The carnival of death was being enacted in every tenement. The cases had become so numerous that there were not well persons enough left to wait upon the sick; and it was utterly impossible to procure nurses for them. Suffering, and alone, the poor creatures were lying without the attendance of any one, to give them even a drink of cold water. With the exception of the physicians and their drivers, and one or two other fearless and humane individuals, they were shunned by the whole community, and abandoned to their hapless fate. So far as we have been able to ascertain, there was only a single male adult residing in the Row who escaped an attack, and he was an American, who had lived in Gosport many years. This man, Mr. W. W. Stevenson, is entitled to the gratitude of all benevolent people for his untiring zeal and laborious exertions in ministering to the relief of the necessities of the sick and the dying. From the very beginning of the epidemic he fearlessly entered the abodes of wretchedness and disease, and continued to perform the offices of a good Samaritan to its close. The book keeper in the office of the ship yards, on Water street, opposite the Row, took the fever and died before the end of the month. The occupants of the house next to Irish Row, on the south, composed exclusively of Irish, living in very dirty and crowded apartments, all suffered from the disease. In this house there were eleven cases previous to the 22d of July, of which more than one half died.

The epidemic had now reached a point where it became evident to the faculty that some arrangements were absolutely indispensable, by which the sick might be more comfortably provided for. It was suggested by them, that they should all be removed into some healthy locality in the vicinity, where persons might be obtained who could attend on them without incurring danger of contracting the dis- [128] ease. The sanitary committee finally succeeded in procuring a site for the purpose, after much difficulty, and immediately proceeded to erect thereon a temporary hospital, or pest-house, for their accommodation. In two days, by the assistance of a large force of volunteers from among the mechanics employed in the Navy Yard, a house twenty by forty feet square, which was at that time deemed sufficiently large for the purpose, was erected, and filled up with appropriate mattrasses, bedding, &c., and furnished with medical stores.

The house was opened on the last day of July, and before night every bed was filled. The committee appointed Drs. Maupin and Trugien physicians to the house, which duty they undertook to perform gratuitously. They had scarcely entered upon their duties before it became obvious that the building was utterly insufficient for the purposes desired; but most opportunely for all, on the next day, permission to send the yellow fever patients to the Naval Hospital was obtained from the Department at Washington, by a committee, composed of members of the Common Council, who had visited that city for the purpose. The pest-house was accordingly closed, and the patients removed to that establishment. But of this we shall have more to say in a separate chapter.

There had been no case of yellow fever in Portsmouth up to the 1st of August which could not be traced to Grosport, except that of John Herald, who lived in the very heart of the town. The house in which he resided was situated near the centre of a square, with a lane leading to it opening at a distance of twenty or thirty yards, on High street. Even this case did not excite much alarm, for, as he worked in the Navy Yard, it was thought that he might have contracted the disease by passing through Gosport on his way to the yard; but when his wife and his daughter were both taken with the same symptoms, neither of whom had, at any time, been exposed to the atmosphere of Gosport: and when Mr. John K. Pendleton, a most estimable young gentleman, who lived next door to Herald's house, and who had kindly visit- [129] ed him, and performed friendly offices about his sick bed, and more especially when Mrs. Cocke, who resided in a commodious and airy house on Crawford street, and who had probably not been outside of her doors for months, had also been attacked by the fever, the feeling of alarm became general, and consternation was depicted in every countenance. It could not longer be concealed, and the sanitary committee gave publicity to the fact, that the yellow fever was epidemic in Portsmouth.

In the history of Portsmouth, the blackest day on which the sun ever shone was that of the first of August, 1855. The day was very hot and sultry, and the streets were alive with people. A single object enlisted their attention. A wagon covered with white, and having a mattrass lying on its floor, attracted the gaze of her terrified inhabitants; and nothing was thought of—nothing was talked of, but the impending calamity, as this vehicle, freighted with its fevered occupants, passed slowly through the streets on its way to the hospital. An elderly woman and her young daughter were the passengers, looking as they mournfully rolled along, for the last time on the familiar objects of earth. The husband and the father had just passed away, and they were to follow him in a few brief hours. What had been feared, and hoped against, had now become a reality, and each one felt that he was living and moving in the midst of a pestilence. The thought was a most solemn one, and caused a feeling of desolation and despair to diffuse itself throughout the community.

Many of the citizens had not waited as long as this before they sought to place themselves beyond reach of the epidemic; but now the panic became general; and all who could possibly get away, deserting business and home, fled from the doomed city. In their anxiety to get without the range of the fever, they availed themselves of every mode of egress; the steamboats were crowded daily, and were frequently compelled, from want of capacity to accommodate [130] them, to push off from the wharf, and leave hundreds behind. Every available shelter in the surrounding country was brought into requisition. Dwelling houses, churches, school houses, barns, and even kitchens, were filled with the refugees. Here two or three, and even more, families were sometimes crowded together in the same house, and, in some instances, in the same room. Nearly, if not quite, two-thirds of the white population had left the town before the middle of August. They did not get away without difficulty. In their desperate flight they certainly had a right to expect a kind and hospitable reception from the people of the neighboring country; but such a reasonable expectation, it grieves us to be compelled to say, was not, for the most part, realized. A craven and heartless fear had destroyed all human sympathy, and those to whom they looked for refuge shut their doors against them.

A most rigid quarantine was established by the little town of Suffolk, located on the rail road, about seventeen miles from Portsmouth, forbidding any one coming into that place for the purpose of remaining, under a penalty of one hundred dollars for each day's detention. It is an absolute fact, that a gentleman, a resident of Portsmouth, was, by the health commissioners of Suffolk, denied the privilege of seeing his own daughter, sick at that place.

Isle of Wight county, too, had her quarantine, as will be seen by the following letter from Hon. Archibald Atkinson, the former representative of Norfolk and Portsmouth, in the congress of the United States:

Smithfield, (Va.,) August 8, 1865.
Dear Sir; I think it due to yourself, as well as to the public, that you should be advised that a, quarantine, and regulation, according to law, has been adopted, forbidding the landing of persons coming directly or indirectly from Norfolk or Portsmouth, at any point in this county, during the continuance of said quarantine.
I am, with great respect, your friend and servant,
Captain Smith, Steamer Augusta.