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An Environmental History of the Civil War$
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Judkin Browning and Timothy Silver

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781469655383

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469655383.001.0001

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Spring–Winter 1861

One Sickness
An Environmental History of the Civil War

Judkin Browning

Timothy Silver

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter discusses the explosion of diseases that occurred once the armies concentrated at the beginning of the war. Epidemics of measles, typhoid fever, malaria, and venereal disease among others decimated armies on both sides. The chapter discusses the reasons for these outbreaks, as well as the desperate, often comical, way that doctors tried to treat the various ailments, especially with liberal uses of mercury and opium compounds. The chapter also examines the epidemics that surprisingly did not occur, such as cholera and typhus, and examines the reasons why they did not appear. The effects of campaigning on the health of soldiers, especially dehydration and heat stroke, are also discussed regarding the campaigns of Bull Run, Wilson’s Creek, and New Mexico. Efforts at biological warfare also receive attention.

Keywords:   malaria, typhoid fever, measles, heat stroke, cholera, opium, dehydration, disease, Bull Run, Wilson’s Creek

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