Soldiers' Petition for Dr. Mudd's Release

Soldiers' Petition for Dr. Mudd's Release  (1867) 
by Edmund L. Zalinski

After the 1867 yellow fever epidemic at Fort Jefferson had abated, 300 surviving soldiers signed a petition for Dr. Mudd’s release. This is the text of the petition, written by Edmund L. Zalinski, 1st Lieutenant, 5th U.S. Artillery.

Source: U.S. National Archives, College Park, MD

It is with sincere pleasure that we acknowledge the great services rendered by Dr. S. A. Mudd (prisoner) during the prevalence of yellow fever at the Fort. When the very worthy surgeon of the Post, Dr. J. Sim Smith, fell one of the first victims of the fatal epidemic, and the greatest dismay and alarm naturally prevailed on all sides, deprived as the garrison was of the assistance of any medical officer, Dr. Mudd, influenced by the most praiseworthy and humane motives, spontaneously and unsolicited came forward to devote all his energies and professional knowledge to the aid of the sick and dying. He inspired the hopeless with courage, and by his constant presence in the midst of danger and infection, regardless of his own life, tranquillized the fearful and desponding.

By his prudence and foresight, the hospital upon an adjacent island, to which at first the sick were removed in an open boat, was discontinued. Those attacked with the malady were on the spot put under vigorous treatment. A protracted exposure on the open sea was avoided, and many now strong doubtless owe their lives to the care and treatment they received at his hands. He properly considered the nature and character of the infection and concluded that it could not be eradicated by the mere removal of the sick, entailing, as it did, the loss of valuable time necessary for the application of the proper remedies, exposure of those attacked and adding to the general fear and despondency. The entire different system of treatment and hospital arrangement was resorted to with the happiest effect.

Dr. Mudd's treatment and the change which he recommended met with the hearty approval and warm commendation of the regularly appointed surgeons, with whom, in a later stage of the epidemic, he was associated. Many here who have experienced his kind and judicious treatment, can never repay him the debt of obligation they owe him. We do, therefore, in consideration of the invaluable services rendered by him during this calamitous and fatal epidemic, earnestly recommend him to the well-merited clemency of the Government, and solicit his immediate release from here, and restoration to liberty and the bosom of his family.

Edmund L. Zalinski, 1st Lieutenant, 5th U.S. Artillery

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.