- Oct 26, 2012
In this thread I'm going to look at what role Quinine (or a lack thereof) had on the War.
Great information. ThanksOne of the first acts of the War Department once hostilities were declaimed was to buy up all the quinine they could lay their hands on. From that point on, Union agents, using hard currency, cornered the market in "Jesuit's Bark". One of the few items of a 19th Century medicine chest that actually had a therapeutic efffect, quinine suppressed the symptoms of malaria. Until TVA began to dam up the great rivers of the South, malaria was an annual scourge. The mosquito borne parasite is both painful & debilitating. In Middle Tennessee, wealthy families owned summer houses in the mountains to avoid the dreaded fever months. Today, TVA raises & lowers the level of reservoirs to control malaria bearing mosquitos.
The inability of Confederate medical services to acquire quinine had a devastating effect. During the Vicksburg campaign, for example, entire Confederate regiments were unavailable because so many men were suffering from malaria. Malaria sufferers are left prostrate for extended periods of time. There is no way to tough it out, there are millions of them & only one of you. The mosquitoes were definitely wearing blue.
It was not just the military that suffered from the lack of "bark". I have the journal of a plantation mistress who laments the impossibility of refreshing her store of quinine. She says that store of bark is more precious than gold, locked up like a cone of sugar.
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