Fort Union, N.M. August 1st 1867
I received on my return your very kind letter dated July 10th, for which accept my thanks. I was with Genl. Getty at Nascruces (?) Ranch, some 50 miles from here, holding an Indian council of Utes + Apaches when an express brought news of the death of Dr. + Mrs. McGill and of the cholera in a Battalion of the 38th U.S. Inf. En route for N.M. and thus near Fort Syon some 250 miles from this post. The Genl, at my request gave me an order to prevent the spread of the disease and to care for those sick. I got safely at this camp near Iron Springs, C.T. riding night + day, found that the report of the deaths of poor McGill + wife was only too true. There had been 29 cases with 9 deaths, poor McGill’s being among the last. He lost his wife, carried her remains back over 30 miles to a Fort (Fort Paulford) to bury there, returning the command had moved on 20 miles, and he stayed with his escort at the camp of the day before. In the morning as the officer in charge of the party was about moving, he told him “he was sick, he thought he had the cholera, and that it would kill him to move him.”
The next day at illegible he was dead. He died, poor fellow in an army wagon with only his servant and a Sergt + 3 colored soldiers with him. His last words the Sergt. told me was “Bury me by my wife’s side.” He had lost all interest in life after the death of his wife and seemed glad to die. I have told you what I was able to collect while I remained with the command which was only a few days – only long enough to know its condition with enough to report the proper means to be taken to prevent the spread of the disease – or danger of contagion. Dr. Kimble as act asst surg is with it now. I saw while there a prolapsed anus which I think would measure 10 inches across. The mass would not go in a large hat. If possible I will make a cast of it and send it to you. I will send in a day or two some specimens put up in cotton and small bottles, by mail, and also the cases you desire. I am very busy having turned over to Dr. Peter, and getting ready to leave. Setting out +c I saw in a Washington Chronicle that my leave had been granted. If so I shall leave for France from New York in November. I have been thinking of resigning but not quite made up my mind. I have got many friends and some surgical influence in New York and Drs. Bush DuBuois Snidely + Matts all advise me to settle there at once and offer me on my fathers ack[nowledged?] many favors. Still life is short and I do not care to take the trouble of settling without my constitution gets somewhat illegible. Please excuse the illegible of the above. Drs. McKee, P?, Huntington, are well. On Sunday I am off on a trip of two or three hundred miles thro’ the mts to look at a copper mine + some gold diggings with Genl. Carlton and will illegible + put in quarantine the donkeys and then arrive illegible 20 miles of the post. Remember me to Dr. Crane, Woodward, illegible, Curtis and any other friends and believe me with kind regards
Bvt. Lt. Col. Geo A. Otis
PS If you have been abroad please give me your advice. I go for health and to study surgery, medicine, + chemistry. Would it not be well for me to get Dr. Barnes to give me a letter of introduction. Is such a thing usual. I forgot to say that the cholera stopped in the negro command just after crossing the Arkansas.