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Monday, March 4, 2013

Death by Diarrhea

During the Civil War, diarrhea and dysentery were known as the prevailing diseases in army camps. Union Major and Surgeon S.C. Gordon observed:
 
"The death list from disease was a fearful one in the Department of the Gulf. Fever and diarrhea, the former disabling and the latter killing, were worse foes than bullets, ten to one.
 
"It was estimated that at least ten thousand soldiers died and were buried in the Department of the Gulf, from disease of the bowels alone. It was a standing joke in our department that to be a good soldier here bowels are of more consequence than brains.
 
"The slang phrase in regard to the soldier who was discharged, was "He hasn't got the guts to stand it." The marches were long, the water poor, the weather torrid, and the rations oftentimes of poor quality. Fatigue duty under such circumstances was deadly. The bones of the best Young men of new England lie in unknown graves all over Louisiana."

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