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Date Original

1861 December 19


In his letter, Smith requests instructions from Major General Polk as to what the regiment should do regarding winter quarters. Half the regiment is sick with mumps. Due to this, he fears if action is not taken quickly, men will die from exposure.

Biographical/Historical Note

Approximately half the deaths attributed to the Civil War were not from wounds or battle, but from illness and infection. Soldiers were particularly susceptible, living in close quarters, with limited access to clean water or proper medical care, and often in situations that left them exposed to the weather. This was especially true in winter.


[Page 1] Headquarters 11th,
Arks Reg Island 10
Tenn Dcbr [sic] 19th, 1861
Major Gen'l L. Polk
Dear sir
I see that we have an order
at this post from Brig. Genl,
Pillow under date 28th, Ult.
directing me among other things
to cause the Qr Mr of my
regiment to purchase lumber
at this post to build winter
quarters when at Columbus
a few days since you informed
me that we are not to winter
here and that we will soon be
ordered to New Madrid.
What I now desire to say is
this that at least one half of
our regiment have now the
mumps [and] other sickness, and
it is essential at this late date
that we should make preparation
at some place for winter we
can soon do so here, but it is of
course useless if we have to move
in a few days, If severe weather
set suddenly in upon us It will
go very hard with us in our
present condition, you will
please give this your early [Page 2] attention, and some order
from your relative to winter
quarters is respectully
J M Smith Col
11th, Ark's Reg [and] Com'g
Past Island 10 Tenn
From J M Smith
Col 11th Ark's Reg.
Date Decb'r 19th, 1861
Col Smith -
Wishes to know
if he can not
go into winter
quarters -

Physical Description

2 pages handwritten, 12" x 7.5"


Civil War; Arkansas; Confederate States of America; Winter; Medical Aspects of War


Smith, Jabez M.

Geographical Area

Island 10, Lake County (Tenn.)






Small manuscript collection


Arkansas State Archives

Contributing Entity

Arkansas State Archives

Recommended Citation

J.M. Smith, Island Number 10, Tennessee, to Major General Leonidas Polk, Small manuscript collection, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.


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J.M. Smith, Island Number 10, Tennessee, to Major General Leonidas Polk