Thursday, February 9, 2012

Letters from the Front - Nathan Hayward

Sunday, February 9, 1862

Doctor Nathan Hayward wrote a letter to his father concerning the inauguration of a bathhouse, a major achievement in his efforts to maintain cleanliness in camp to ward off disease and infection among the regiment. He scheduled weekly bathing for the soldiers on Saturday and intended to employ the bathhouse for washing clothes every other day of the week.

He described the layout of the bath house in detail:
I had all the hospital stores removed from the storehouse, which has a floor and fireplace, into a new log building adjacent. A barber’s shop was partitioned off in one corner and a stove placed in it; a sink communicating with the drains on the outside of the building, and plenty of nails driven into the logs around, for hanging up clothes, and the requisition of four camp kettles from the quarter-master and thirty wash-tubs made of half barrels, with two barrels with handles for bringing water, completed the primitive of this regimental temple of Hygeia.

Hayward indicated that his attempts to maintain cleanliness and hygiene among the regiment had been successful, as only one soldier had died from disease alone since the inception of the regiment.1

1Nathan Hayward, "Letters," Association of Officers of the Twentieth Massachusetts Regiment, Reports, Letters and Papers Appertaining to Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, vol. 1, p. 358-62, Twentieth Massachusetts Special Collection, Boston Public Library, Boston, Massachusetts.

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