Civil War Diseases
Wars are meant to have the most soldiers killed on the battlefield. However, that wasn’t the case for the Civil War of America that took place in 1861. Indeed, there were a few amputations but that wasn’t near the number of people that died from diseases.
Why Were There So Many Diseases?
- Lack of Understanding
- Bad Hygiene
- Poor Diet and Lack of Clothing
There was a massive migration all around the United States. I mean there were people moving south to north and north to south. There were soldiers moving to fight while leaving their families at home. Camps and hospitals were crowded with injured soldiers. If there were many individuals in a hospital with a person with Thyroid Fever believe it or not it is going to spread fast. The transmission was also caused by soldiers spitting and sharing the same cigarettes and cups.
Lack of Understanding
Some surgeons had never done surgery or treated a gunshot wound. They basically were being trained on the job. The doctors didn’t know about the Germ Theory. They didn’t know that there were germs literally everywhere. Some doctors believe that diseases were associated with the status of class and other thought diseases are connected to the environment. Now we know that diseases are associated with viruses and other organisms. If someone had dysentery their instant treatment was castor oil or whiskey. Now we know that this will upset someone's stomach even more. I am not saying the surgeons were stupid. That is not at all the case they just didn’t do enough research. Thanks to their mistakes we can learn to not make them again now.
Soldiers had to leave their wives and mothers so they had no one to take care of them. Camps had such bad hygiene that some generals were put in punishment based on the conditions of the camp. Many bugs lived in the soldiers’ bodies and clothes. Men were in the habit of going to the bathroom 30 to 40 feet from the camp. Surgeons didn’t wash their hands before or after the surgery. The camps were near a river where the soldiers would drink, eat, and take a bath at. This caused more diseases and created more pathways to pass more diseases.
Finally, soldiers would eat the same thing every day which is the bread and salted pork. Salted pork is really bad to consume because of the extreme amount of salt in it. Soldiers would drink coffee because it was good and secure. They didn’t eat as many vegetables which meant they didn’t receive the vitamins they needed. The confederate soldiers sometimes didn’t have the advantage to drink coffee because the Union would block the imports. Therefore, the confederate soldiers had to boil chicory and other herbs as a warm drink.
- Typhoid Fever
There was a vaccination for smallpox but many states like New York didn’t allow vaccination. Thus there was a requirement before entering the army to have the vaccination However, many couldn’t because of the state laws. Cowpox was the primary defense. Some symptoms were fever, headaches, discomfort, back pain, and vomiting.
This disease is more contagious than Smallpox because it can be acquired by touching surfaces of the virus. There was no cure except to stay in bed. Some symptoms are fever, runny nose, and watery eyes.
Diarrhea is a symptom of dysentery and the main killer of the civil war. The soldiers were specially instructed to dig an eight-foot trench to go to the bathroom and cover it. Nevertheless, they will go to the bathroom and cover it. Also, they were scared to get shot so they would go to the bathroom near the camp. This would bring flies and more diseases.
The conditions in the camp caused this disease like containment food. Some common symptoms of this disease were headache, loss of appetite, and flu symptoms.
Pirates were susceptible to this disease because they had symptoms like bruising, bleeding gums, rashes, sadness, and leg pain. Soldiers lack the vitamin C they needed in their food. They needed to eat more vegetables. Congress passed the law of Desiccated Vegetables. This law allowed vegetables to be served in cans. The soldiers didn’t like the canned vegetables because of the terrible taste.
It was caused by mosquitos or insects which caused shivering when it is hot outside. The symptoms were fever, muscle aches, and headaches.
Why is it Important To Learn About Diseases During the Civil War?
The main idea is diseases were the main killer of the Civil War instead of people getting injured on the battlefield. Killing about 750,000 people in the War. Also, we can learn from the surgeons’ mistakes that I will explain later in the passage. Now that we live in a time period where we have to wear masks and pass so many pandemics. God bless you.