Today in History:

Sickness and Disease in the Civil War

Sickness and disease were the scourge of both armies and more men died of disease than in battle. Sanitation in the camps was very poor. Germs and the existence of bacteria had not yet been discovered, and medical science was quite primitive by today's standards. Morning sick call was played in camp and ailing soldiers trudged to the surgeon's tent where the "sawbones" examined the sick. Quinine or other stimulants were administered, including an elixir called "Blue Mass". Whiskey was universally given for most ailments as was brandy and other stimulants. Extremely ill soldiers were sent to brigade hospitals where most were further affected by disease. Thousands of men in both armies died without ever firing a shot in battle.