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Thursday, May 16, 2013

General Robert E. Lee Confronts Disease in Recruits

By Alfred Jay Bollet, M.D.

The problem of sickness led General Lee to write to Secretary of War Randolph on October 8, 1862, three weeks after the Battle of Antietam (or, as he would have called it, Sharpsburg):

"The medical director reports that . . .about 4,500. . .sick from this army are now accumulated in Winchester, and they are principally, if not altogether, the conscripts and recruits that have joined since we have been stationary. They are afflicted with measles, camp fever, &c. The medical director thinks that all the conscripts we have received are thus afflicted, so that, instead of being an advantage to us, they are an element of weakness, a burden. I think, therefore, that it would be better if the conscripts be assembled in camps of instruction, so that they may pass through these inevitable diseases, and become a little inured to camp life."

FROM: Civil War Medicine: Challenges and Triumphs

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