620,000 soldiers died during the civil war and 2/3 of them died from what you think?
–Not wounds, but disease
Here is a list of the reasons why disease was the largest killing machine during the Civil War. Brace yourself, this can get pretty gross.(8)
Garbage in camps: There were no garbage trucks or companies, so guess where all the trash went? Yep right by your head, feet and throughout your campsite.
Overcrowding: Soldiers were always in close contact with each other which caused disease and infection to spread rapidly
Bugs: People didn’t know about germs and how they were spread. Mosquitos, maggots, fleas, ticks and lice were abundant throughout military camps and carried many diseases.
Poor Hygiene: Soldiers did not get a daily shower and even used the same pots to cook in to clean their lice infested clothing.
Improper diet: Fresh fruits and veggies were rare and soldiers received some meat but that was rare and it was often spoiled. The main staple foods were hardtack for the Union and cornbread for the Confederacy.
Impure water: Little to no access to clean water and dirty streams were often the main water source.
Filth: Latrines were close to campsites and water sources and often contaminated the water.
Weather: Exposure to all the elements lowered soldiers resistance levels.
~Most common diseases caused by these poor conditions~(8)
1. Dysentery-The occurrence of diarrhea with the passage of mucous and blood.
2. Yellow fever-Carried by a specific mosquito and is a virus, it can be fatal.
3. Small Pox-A contagious disease caused by a specific virus. It causes fevers and bumps similar to chicken pox.
4. Typhoid Fever-Also known as camp fever, it is caused by any of several bacteria and is very severe. It causes a high fever, intense headache, intense rash and delirium.
5. Malaria-Also known as the shakes and is transmitted by bacteria.
6. Ague-A fever with bad cycles of chills and sweating.
7. Pneumonia-Disease causing inflammation in the lungs.
8. Scurvy-Cause by a lack of vitamin C, gums get spongy, teeth become loose and mucous membranes begin to bleed.
9. Tuberculosis-Contagious disease caused by bacteria and mainly affects the lungs.
10. Other threatening diseases included chicken pox, scarlet fever, measles, mumps and whooping cough.