The Deadliest Enemy The Hidden Killers Of

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The Deadliest Enemy: The Hidden Killers Of The Civ Essay, Research Paper Invisible to the world of honor, away from the patriotic duty, surrounding the trill of battle, and penetrating the comradery of the campfire, the most deadly and merciless enemy stood waiting to strike the soldiers of the civil war. The enemy, to small to be seen and too advanced to be combated, was the angel of death for many a fine soldier. This creeping death that came was inescapable and virtually unstoppable. Only infrequently did the soldiers face each other, yet every day they were forced to fight their deadliest enemy; Disease. (Davis,185) In the minds of most the civil war is considered to be the last great display of honor. Soldiers marched forth ready to fight and die for a cause they

strongly believed in. Yet the war was much less romantic, and tremendously more sad and disturbing. The fighting men of the civil war on both sides were subject to as Walt Whitman put it, a “seething hell and black infernal background”, due to their subjection to subhuman conditions (Lowenfels, 181-2). It was disease and infection, not bullets that claimed the majority of soldiers’ livelihood. Thus creating the central focus of this paper: How did the breeding grounds for such deadly killers infiltrate the Civil War?”Two or Three Love Taps”As reported in several of Bell Wiley’s books, the physical exam to enter the war effort was ridiculously lax. The medical examination was an introduction to the solider on the new world of medical treatment he was about to encounter

in the war. The physicians seemed to pay no attention to the number of arms and legs of a recruit. Most doctors simply asked a man how he felt then gave him “two or three love taps on the chest” before yelling, “I only wish you had a hundred such fine boys as this one” or the like before sending them through into the army (Wiley, Billy Yank, 23). The general feeling was if a man could work on the farm, he could fire a rifle. This practice allowed thousands of ill and frail men to enter the military, and bring with infections and infirmities to their new messmates. Most of the men had never attended school or had ever been exposed to rudimentary childhood disease such as mumps and measles. Diseases that were only a two-week inconvenience to a child were life threatening to

an adult.”Something That Didn’t Smell Like Milk and Peaches”To make matters worse, those who survived the initial gauntlet were made to face an even more unpleasant trial. There is a well-known male saying, which states, “The world is his urinal”. This was all too true in civil war camps. Sanitation was a foreign word in most camps, and the soldiers paid the price for their ignorance. The men were usually either too lazy or too preoccupied to walk all the way over to the regimental latrines. Instead, many men simply relieved themselves were they stood or behind a tree. Soon men began watching were they walked and even slept. One Virginian said he awoke to discover that, “I had been lying in – I won’t say what – something that didn’t smell like milk and

peaches” (Wiley, Johnny Reb, 248). The garbage situation was none the better as one federal inspector gave the description, “Slops deposited in pits within the camp limits or thrown out broadcast; heaps of manure and offal close to the camp” (Wiley, Billy Yank, 217). The mounds of garbage and excrement from thousands of men would turn the camps, especially in the heat of summer, into an olfactory nightmare. It comes as no surprise what happened next. With the formation of new divisions, quickly came the breeding ground for sickness. Units that started around one thousand, usually dwindled down very quickly, due to illness (Davis, 186). In most units, the death rate due to illness was only outnumbered by the rate of discharge due to illness (Nolan, 35).”The Shits”Living