Wednesday, June 12, 2019


West, William H. "The most stirring scene ever produced on any stage." Back cover of minstrel program. 1899. Strobridge Litho. Co., Cin'ti & New York. From the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA (found on 

In this post, dear readers, we meander onto a brief topic that came up in an exchange among comrades in my gaming circle--history nerds that we all are. Whilst sharing a post-meeting meal with the fellows, I for some reason (since forgotten) made reference to a wonderfully (or awfully) captioned picture in a celebratory contemporary picture book I have of the Spanish American War...
 ...above, the source of the image (which shall be found at the conclusion of this post: patience, dear readers), published in 1898 by the Pearson Publishing Company, New York.  In describing the image, the book mentions a very unsplendid aspect of the war, for which we must give it at least some credit...
Willets, Gilson. Fever wards at the division hospital - Jacksonville, Florida. 1898. Black & white photonegative. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. Accessed 12 Jun. 2019.

....Specifically, it refers to the losses that the US Army suffered through disease--most of those coming from troops who never even left the country.  Here is how a 2004 history of military medicine in the Spanish American War addresses the topic:  

"108,000 volunteers from various states had been assembled in a handful of national encampments located in Georgia, Florida, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. With some notable exceptions, military officers had very little knowledge of the role of hygiene in the prevention of disease. As a result, the sanitary facilities in the camps rapidly became overwhelmed, and the resultant situation was appalling. Typhoid fever epidemics broke out in all of the encampments. Regiments in these camps suffered 20,738 cases of typhoid fever, which resulted in 1,590 fatalities."
Source: Vincent Cirillo. Bullets and Bacilli: The Spanish-American War and Military Medicine.  2004. Rutgers University Press.: New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA.256 pp. ISBN: 0-8135-3339-2 (hardcover).  Found at: The Journal of Clinical Investigation

And here is how it is covered (sort of) in the Bully 1898 Photographic History of the war:
"AN OFFICER’S TENT. At the close of the war the necessity of mustering out certain regiments and maintaining others created a difficult problem for the consideration of the administration. In most cases the officers were anxious to remain in the service; the men, on the other hand, wanted nothing more than to return to private life. Without attempting to lay responsibility on the shoulders of any one person or any particular department, it must be admitted that the affairs of the army might have been managed better than they were. Particularly was this so in connection with the selection of the sites for camping grounds. Here, indeed, was grave blundering. But though the chosen places were unsanitary, they were in most cases unusually picturesque. Our photograph shows the tent of a captain in the regular army, with the regimental colors in the foreground. No artist could have found a prettier spot, let the doctors say what they may" (page 219).

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