Malaria, Yellow Fever, and the Course of the American Civil War
Of the 620,000 soldiers who perished during the American Civil War, the overwhelming majority died not from gunshot wounds or saber cuts, but from disease. And of the various maladies that plagued both armies, few were more pervasive than malaria--a mosquito-borne illness that afflicted over 1.1 million soldiers serving in the Union army alone. Yellow fever, another disease transmitted by mosquitos, struck fear into the hearts of military planners who knew that yellow jack could wipe out an entire army in a matter of weeks. In this ground-breaking medical history, Andrew McIlwaine Bell explores the impact of these two terrifying mosquito-borne maladies on the major political and military events of the 1860s, revealing how deadly microorganisms carried by a tiny insect helped shape the course of the Civil War.
By focusing on two specific diseases rather than a broad array of Civil War medical topics, Bell offers a clear understanding of how environmental factors serve as agents of change in history. Indeed, with Mosquito Soldiers, he proves that the course of the Civil War would have been far different had mosquito-borne illness not been part of the South's landscape in the 1860s.