How Civil War Soldiers Gave Themselves Syphilis While Trying to Avoid Smallpox

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CMWinkler

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How Civil War Soldiers Gave Themselves Syphilis While Trying to Avoid Smallpox
If only someone had warned them not to take a DIY approach.
by Mariana Zapata
November 30, 2016
608
image.jpg

The field hospital after the Battle of Savage Station. Lack of doctors and resources meant that medical conditions were often unhygienic. Library of Congress/LC-DIG-cwpb-01063
Bullets fly, the cold creeps in, and your body is so malnourished that you can barely walk. You know that if smallpox gets a hold of you, you don’t stand a chance. You look at your fellow soldier’s pus-filled lesion and realize there is only one way to survive the smallpox outbreak in your unit. You breathe in deeply, cut your arm open with your rusty pocket knife, and fill the wound with the liquid coming out of your comrade’s pustule.

More: http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/how-civil-war-soldiers-gave-themselves-syphilis-while-trying-to-avoid-smallpox
 
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Waterloo50

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I can understand why these men tried to combat small pox using the penknife method even if it was a little unorthodox, but it would have been smarter to take the infection from a child. To be honest I think that I would have just stayed away from anyone with so much as a rash. Mind you, it did provide a great cover story for those who had perhaps been a little 'promiscuous'.
 

Claude Bauer

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How Civil War Soldiers Gave Themselves Syphilis While Trying to Avoid Smallpox
If only someone had warned them not to take a DIY approach.
by Mariana Zapata
November 30, 2016
608
image.jpg

The field hospital after the Battle of Savage Station. Lack of doctors and resources meant that medical conditions were often unhygienic. Library of Congress/LC-DIG-cwpb-01063
Bullets fly, the cold creeps in, and your body is so malnourished that you can barely walk. You know that if smallpox gets a hold of you, you don’t stand a chance. You look at your fellow soldier’s pus-filled lesion and realize there is only one way to survive the smallpox outbreak in your unit. You breathe in deeply, cut your arm open with your rusty pocket knife, and fill the wound with the liquid coming out of your comrade’s pustule.

More: http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/how-civil-war-soldiers-gave-themselves-syphilis-while-trying-to-avoid-smallpox
Saw another article on this topic today: http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2016/12/great-moments-in-syphilis

Professor Dave Noon closed out the fall semester, he decided to make a small change to how you taught the conclusion of the American Civil War with a hint at Civil War medicine. "This year, however, I will depart from mindless tradition and explain that the war’s true victor was (as always) venereal disease."

STDs.JPG
 
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Allie

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Really interesting article.

While searching newspapers.com for mentions of my Sawyer ancestors, I found this advertisement from my 3x great-grandfather Mathias E Sawyer, who was a physician in Edenton, NC. It's from 1811 and thus quite a few years before the war - he was the grandfather of my Civil War ancestor on this line - but the basic idea behind vaccination hadn't really advanced as far as I'm aware. I thought it was interesting that a chance to get vaccinated was rare enough to be worth taking out an advertisement. Sawyer's partner in this ad, Dr. James Norcom, is interesting as the owner of Harriet Jacobs, author of the slave narrative "Incidents in the life of a Slave Girl."

image.jpg
 

James B White

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I know sometimes I'm a little ditzy, but I don't get what's going on in this image. What is she doing?!
I was curious too (in a detached, historian-like way of course), and so far the best I've found is a caption attached.

soldier-line-up.jpg

Okay, I get that the soldiers find it interesting, in a non-detached soldierly way. But what is she doing? :unsure:
 
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