Camp Fever vs Typhoid Fever vs Typhus

Aug 2, 2019
Hello, All,

I'm trying to sort out the medical history of a pair of brothers in the Confederate Army. In July, there's a letter that the older brother, 17 year old Joseph, is sick. His sister writes, "He has had three chills and he has had fever all the time. He hasn’t sat up any scarcely since he has been at home. The Dr. saw him yesterday. He says if we don’t break the chills he will have the fever. Little Jake is very low with the camp fever. The Dr. says he is afraid Jake will die."

I'm trying to work out just what he has. In his regiment, there have been small pox, measles, and typhus. Malaria may also be a possibility. The reference to camp fever surprises me, since "Little Jake" is 2 years old and has never left home.

The next letter is from a camp doctor: "It is with great regret that I write you that your son is dangerously ill. Come or send immediately as I think he will not live. I do not wish to alarm you but her facts are too plain. I think that he is growing worse every day. It is with regreat that I write you this but I feel it is my duty and advise you to come if possible for I don’t think he will live many days. He has a severe case of Typhus fever."

I'm not clear if the older brother recovered enough to rejoin his company and had a relapse, or if the younger one is the one who's gravely ill. If someone has typhus, can they get it a second time? i think it's the younger brother who's sick, but my research buddy thinks it's the first one having a relapse. She's going off of the younger brother's CMSR saying he's "Present" in July and August; I'm going off a line in a letter to the older brother from their father, who says he's heard that the older brother doesn't have duty as often as the younger one (who he outranks), and he tells the older son to give the younger one a break and take on some of his duties.

Any thoughts?

John Hartwell

Forum Host
Aug 27, 2011
Central Massachusetts
What are the dates on the different letters?

It sounds like Joseph brought his camp fever home to Jake, and later returned to the army, but apparently had a relapse. Did little Jake recover? The "Dr." mentioned in the sister's letter is not the same as the "camp doctor" who wrote the next letter.

The letter from the "camp doctor" would surely not be about Jake, who presumably was not at camp, but at home with the sister(?). To whom was this letter addressed?
Aug 2, 2019
Joseph is home sick in August 11, 1865. That letter is from the sister to Brother Billie

The doctor writes to the mother in September 17th

Pa writes that Joseph should take over some of Billie's duties on Feb. 14, 1865. There are no letters in between these.

Worth mentioning that at this point, the Confederates are really cracking down on people who go home on furlough because they're sick. The sister tells Billie in that same letter that a local boy from the same company has been hauled off to Atlanta in chains for overstaying his 30 day sick leave. The local doctor was about to head up to Atlanta to try and bail him out.