What Was Biggest Killer of Union and Confederate Troops During the War? (Poll)

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What Was Biggest Killer of Union and Confederate Troops During the War? (Poll)

  • Pneumonia

    Votes: 7 11.1%
  • Diarrhea

    Votes: 44 69.8%
  • Malnutrition

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Battlefield Wounds

    Votes: 3 4.8%
  • Tuberculosis

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • None of the Above

    Votes: 4 6.3%
  • Don't Know

    Votes: 5 7.9%

  • Total voters
    63

gem

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Oct 26, 2012
What Was Biggest Killer of Union and Confederate Troops During the War?
 
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diane

Retired User
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
One of the grim but good outcomes of the Civil War was the amazing advances in medicine. I'd vote for dysentery followed by pneumonia. Hookworm is an interesting thing. The little beastie was imported from Africa, not native to the New World. By the early 1900s about half of Southerners had the thing. Lots of the photos from that time show tired, skinny, sickly folks, especially kids.
 

gem

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Oct 26, 2012
I'd go with measles, which is not on the list.
Measles was definitely a huge issue and effected over 100,000 soldiers. During the war Measles killed about 11,000 soldiers so it wasn't the deadliest condition, but the impact can't be underestimated. About 1 in 20 of those soldiers effected would die. Recruits coming from rural areas were the most prone as the were less likely to have been exposed previously than their counterparts coming from Urban settings.

Symptoms included rash, Fever, dry cough, inflamed eyes (conjunctivitis), spots in the mouth — also called Koplik's spots. Most soldiers would recover but death when it occurred was typically the result of pneumonia, or brain infection which is rare but deadly measles complication.

Here is a letter written by a soldier who witnessed one of his comrades die from measles.
In Their Own Words
October 06, 1861
Death of Civil War Soldier from Measles
A Georgia soldier in Virginia wrote home to his mother and sister, describing the death of a fellow soldier from disease.
“…we have witnessed the death of one of our fellow solgers to wit Thomas Sanders. He died with a relapse of the measels. He got most well of them and exposed hisself in the rain. His relapse was very hasty to death. He only lasted 5 days the last round. He died last night about 1 o’clock. It was a very solemn occasion. He was out of his senses all the time. I was detailed to wait on him 24 hours. It almost wearied me down for his was trying to skip off all the time. He said he was going home but the poor fellow will return home with his eyes closed. … It was heart rending to hear the bitter cries of him. The poor fellow called his Mother often. He died very hard indeed. … The sick sees hard times for they are lying in the hospital tents on some straw. God forbid that I shall ever spend my last days in such a place for it is awful to see the sick groaning…”
Source: Elizabeth Whitley Roberson, In Care of Yellow River: The Complete Civil War Letters of Pvt. Eli Pinson Landers to His Mother (Gretna: Pelican Publishing Company, 1997), p. 36.
 
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gem

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Oct 26, 2012
Although it may sound strange to us today, Diarrhea, also known as the runs, Tennessee trots or Virginia Quickstep, was in fact the biggest killer in the war , killing close to 100,000 Union and Confederate soldiers.

The terms diarrhea and dysentery are often found together. Dysentery also called bloody flux simply means diarrhea with the presence of blood and mucous. Dysentery was typically caused by bacteria or sometimes amoeba parasites.
 
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Joined
Aug 15, 2019
Although it may sound strange to us today, Diarrhea, also known as the runs, Tennessee trots or Virginia Quickstep, was in fact the biggest killer in the war , killing close to 100,000 Union and Confederate soldiers.

The terms diarrhea and dysentery are often found together. Dysentery also called bloody flux simply means diarrhea with the presence of blood and mucous. Dysentery was typically caused by bacteria or sometimes amoeba parasites.
 
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