King's American Rangers
Halifax 17th January 1782
Having met in Obedience to your Order of the 13th Instant, we have considered the contents of a Letter, written on the 12th Instant, by Mr. Lewis DAVIS, Surgeon to the Kings Rangers, to Mr. MARSHALL, regarding the Sick of that Corps, and having agreeably to your Order, enquired minutely into the cause of the Sickness, mentioned in Mr. DAVIS's letter.
We are unanimously, of Opinion, that the cause Originates from infection, received on board the Stanislaus prison-Ship- a place we must think improperly ventilated, and generally filled with steems from foul, and diseased bodies.
And we do now report as our opinions, That to prevent this disease, (which evidently appears to be that distemper known by the names of the Jail, or Hospital fever) from Spreading among the Troops &c. in Garrison, that the Guard there Should be instantly withdrawn, the Prisoners sent off and the Ship itself, laid up, or distroyed.
And we do likewise report, as our firm and Unanimous opinions, That prison Ships in that harbour, Where, for so many months in the Year, the rigour of the Weather is such as absolutely to forbid the opening of the Hatches, the proper ventilation of the Vessels, the necessary cleanliness, &c. of the Prisoners, Where, at the Same time a certain intercourse must always unavoidably take place between them, the Garrison, and the Town. That, therefore, such Ships can never possibly fail to propagate - to foster - and to disseminate a constant succession of Malignant diseases.
As another source of infection, We beg leave to point out the Naval and prison Hospitals: Stiuated opposite to, and at a Small distance from each other, with a narrow and much frequented Street, or Road only between them. We humbly conceive, that in consequence, the Garrison and the Inhabitants of this place, are daily exposed to the Attacks of Contagion.
Therefore as the most effectual measure on this occasion, the removal of the Hospitals seems to be evidently marked out, but, as this step at present may be thought impracticable, Permit us now to recommend, That the Sentries there be removed, but should this also, be found incompatible with His Majesty's Service, We would Advise, that as few be employed as possible, and that these be posted at as great distances as consistent with their duty. At the Same time, Strictly forbidding all intercourse with the Sick.
As in the Course of this enquiry, it evidently appears, That the Jail-fever has found its way into Some of the Regimental Hospitals - Suffer us therefore, to recommend the most effectual means of removal and future prevention: Among these (together with the usual Medical assistance) Space, good Air, and Cleanliness, and the most entire Suspension possible of intercourse between the Sick and the Healthy, - 'till such time, as the Disease be totally overcome and the Seeds of it eradicated will certainly be found the most conducive to these purposes.
We beg leave just to add, that when a disease of the Malignity of the present fever is once introduced into any Town or Garrison, every other disease there, of certain classes, more or less, will partake of its virulency.
We have the Honor to be,
A true Copy
Great Britain, Public Record Office, Headquarters Papers of the British Army in America, PRO 30/55/4057.
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