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Re: Death on the Mississippi

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  • bjer50010
    ... Since they weren t in a bloody swamp I m not surprised! ... Since THEY weren t in a bloody swamp I m not surprised! ... Since they WERE in a bloody swamp
    Message 1 of 74 , May 2, 2003
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      --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "slippymississippi" <
      slippymississippi@y...> wrote:
      > --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "josepharose" <josepharose@y...>
      > wrote:
      > > Mr. Keene:
      > >
      > > I, unfortunately, don't remember the source which contained the
      > > table of deaths due to illness and disease for the first three
      > > months of 1863. What I do remember is that the AotP's rate was
      > > quite low,

      Since they weren't in a bloody swamp I'm not surprised!

      > > the AotC's somewhat higher than average,

      Since THEY weren't in a bloody swamp I'm not surprised!

      > > and the AotT's
      > > much higher.
      > >

      Since they WERE in a bloody swamp I'm not surprised!

      An unnamed, unremembered source and misused statistics do NOT, IMHO,
      add up to an indictment of Grant. For one thing Grant wasn't there for
      fun. He had orders to capture Vicksburg and was making an effort to
      carry out those orders. Since Vicksburg was on the river, that's where
      Grant had to be (unless you want to argue that he was incorrect to give
      up the overland attempt?). And since the river in that region was
      basically a big swamp, Grant had to be in the swamp. Given the poor
      state of understanding of what caused diseases in the 1860's I find it
      difficult to believe you would try to turn this statistic into yet
      another rant on Grant!

      Aside from the vagaries of your statements above, there is nothing here
      to indicate that Grant was responsible for those deaths, unless you
      want to make the argument he was using germ warfare against his own
      troops.

      But a lot of factors would have contributed, some avoidable others not.
      For one thing, Grant's army at the time had a large proportion of new
      recruits (you remember the guys Grant stole from that poor innocent
      McClernand?), many of whom would have come from agricultural areas.
      AFAIK farm boys were much more susceptible to contracting diseases, and
      contracted more virulent forms of the disease, than their urban
      buddies. This resulted from their lack of exposure to these diseases
      because of the isolated nature of their lifestyles. Urban boys would
      have been exposed more often and acquired some level of immunity.

      So, we have a swampy, low lying area, perfect for breeding disease
      carrying insect vectors; a pretty much naive population of hosts; and
      crowded, probably not the most sanitary, camps. Gee I wonder how come
      so many of General Grant's men are sick! But "by golly" Grant has much
      to answer for!

      I hardly think this extremely biased reporting of a partially
      remembered statistic represents anything which implicates Grant. But
      then again, I have no axes to grind.

      > > I would like to see the breakdown by corps, as I think it likely
      > > that the XVI Corps had a lower rate than the rest of the AotT.

      Why would you make a statement like that? On what do you base your
      assumption that the XVI Corps had a lower rate?

      >
      > I doubt that proximity to the river had any effect on morbidity and
      > mortality.

      Actually, Slippy, it may well have. Swampy low lying areas are perfect
      for diseases spread by insect vectors, mostly because they are perfect
      for the vectors (as you pointed out with your DDT comment). So I would
      actually be surprised that the AotT didn't have the highest death by
      disease rate throughout the early part of 1863, or for that matter
      throughout the entire Vicksburg campaign (given the nature of the
      ground over which the campaign was waged).

      > The entire state of Mississippi was a malaria infested
      > hellhole before the days of DDT.
      >

      This is probably a true statement, but the major source would have been
      the swampy areas around the river and it's tributaries. That's a
      pretty large reservoir of disease carrying critters.

      > Now, it's just a plain old hellhole. :P

      No comment ;-)

      JB Jewell
    • Will
      Thanks Dave. Good points to ponder. ~Will ... better
      Message 74 of 74 , May 6, 2003
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        Thanks Dave.
        Good points to ponder.
        ~Will
        --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, Dave Gorski <bigg@m...> wrote:
        > >
        > >Good points. I was thinking that long-term encampments would have
        > >better sanitary and shelter arrangements and the men would be
        better
        > >rested than encampents of men campaigning.
        >
        > Secretary Olmsted of the Sanitary Commission issued a
        > "Circular to the Colonels of the Army," in which he stated
        > that "It is well known that when a considerable body of men
        > have been living together in camp a few weeks a peculiar
        > subtle poison is generated..."
        > Another factor was that many soldiers were from rural areas
        > where they had not had exposure to common illnesses, and had
        > not built up any immunities. Groups in garrison were exposed to
        > and often died of childhood diseases.
        > Often soldiers who were hospitalized for wounds, died of some
        > disease that they had been exposed to while in the hospital,
        > especially typhoid.
        > Yet, another point is that a soldier on the move was likely to
        > have had occasion to have fresh fruits and vegetables than the
        > soldier stuck in camp for weeks on end. A better diet made
        > for a healthier soldier.
        >
        > Regards, Dave Gorski
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