Author Topic: Confederate Germ Warfare  (Read 314 times)

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Offline besilarius

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Confederate Germ Warfare
« on: July 26, 2019, 06:37:50 AM »

by H. Leon Greene

Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2019. Pp. viii, 256. Illus., notes, biblio., index. $39.95 paper. ISBN: 1476668906

Confederate Biological Warfare

Dr. Greene, an emeritus professor of medicine and author of a string of books and articles about history and other subjects, as well as medicine, seems uniquely qualified to investigate the surprisingly neglected subject of Confederate germ warfare.

The critical actor in the Confederate biological warfare effort was Kentuckian Dr. Luke Pryor Blackburn (1816 - 1887). A noted specialist in yellow fever, during the war he worked to combat the disease in parts of the South, and in Bermuda, and was also active in also promoting blockade running and Confederate sabotage efforts in the North. While running for governor of Kentucky in 1879, Blackburn was accused by a former Confederate “secret service” comrade of having tried to spread yellow fever in the North.

Hitherto, this charge has generally been regarded as “not proven.” In this work, Greene marshals the evidence quite well, while also touching on other Confederate efforts to carry the war North.

Greene marshal considerable evidence to make a convincing case that there was such a program, one which may have reached the highest levels of political authority in the Confederacy. He delves deeply into the nature of Yellow fever and Blackburn’s efforts to weaponize the disease. Greene concludes that while Blackburn’s efforts to distribute “infected” clothing in the North, would not have worked, given that the disease is actually spread by mosquitoes, there’s no doubt about the man’s intentions, and those of the Confederate officials who backed him.

The Confederate Yellow Fever Conspiracy is a solid contribution to the history of the Civil War, and to secret service operations during it.

Yellow Fever, or Yellow Jack, was a great killer in the Caribbean.  One british army took almost eighty percent casualties from it.
And before Horatio Nelson got the frigate Hinchingbroke, she sailed into port with only twenty able bodied sailors left.  The rest had all become sick in the space of two days.  Although Nelson caught malaria, he didn't get Yellow Fever, which is one of those possible moments of historical import.  I have to doubt that anyone else had the skill, and verve, to fight Cape Saint Vincent so successfully.
Before Aedes Aegyptai was identified as the vector, all kinds of theories were put forth about Yellow Fever.  Bad humors, Vilearomas from nearby swamps, even too much fruit.
Surprisingly some doctors recognized what it was not.  One bravely drank black vomit from a diseased sailor, to prove it was not contagious.  Two others felt so strongly about their theories that they dueled over it.  Both died from their wounds, and both, of course, were totally wrong.

Yellow Fever could erupt anyplace that mosquitoes bred.  One of the earliest american victories at sea was when a New England sloop captured a revenue schooner near Cape Cod.  The sloop was named the Black Vomit.

Irreverence is a sailor thing.
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Offline Gusington

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Re: Confederate Germ Warfare
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2019, 07:19:43 AM »

"...feels like a 39.99 game to me.”

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Offline Sir Slash

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Re: Confederate Germ Warfare
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2019, 10:23:36 AM »
I think the prostitutes in Boston and NYC spread their own form of germ warfare which probably did more damage.  :hide:
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