09 May 2008

How Did That Civil War Soldier Really Die?

Part of the ongoing Old School theme, taking it back to the paperbound resource! Here's a tidbit of interest from Life of Billy Yank: The Common Soldier of the Union, by Bell Irvin Wiley... something to contemplate when considering how your Civil War-fighting ancestor actually died:

"It is a sad fact of Civil War history that more men died of looseness of the bowels than fell on the field of combat. The best available figures show 57,265 deaths from diarrhea and dysentary as against 44,238 killed in battle." (Page 124)


Miriam said...

Gosh, I'm finding it to be true as I do research for my Civil War Soldiers and Sailors posts. So many of them died of chronic diarrhea many years after the war.

Family Genealogist said...

Interesting! I have an ancestor who complained of bowel problems in his pension application.

Jennifer said...

I had an ancestor who complained of severe bowel issues in his pension application. I've learned from both Billy Yank and the other book, Johnny Reb, that such issues were the predominant health issue among the troops. Bad sanitation, poor diet, etc. all contributed. I highly recommend these books if you haven't read them... they'll shed a whole new light on what the war experience was really like for all those fighting men.

Lisa said...

Ditto for one of my own Civil War pensioners applications. It is interesting to read that this was so common - one of the struggles of soldiers that we don't often think about.

Small-leaved Shamrock
A light that shines again
100 Years in America