Dysentery and the Civil War

Claudius B Abbe
Claudius B Abbe

Photo given me by Brenda Robertson in 2011

My 3rd great grandfather, Claudius Buchanan Abbe, died from the number one killer of the Civil War, Dysentery. That is correct, the #1 killer in the Civil War was not due to enemy fire, but to a disease caused by unsanitary conditions our soldiers lived in.

The numbers listed below are staggering for both the North and the South.

Dysentery and Dirrhea
Dysentery and Diarrhea: Civil War #1 Killer

If our soldiers hadn’t died from dysentery, the side effects from the treatment may have been just as bad. Just read the last paragraph from the chart above. I think you would agree with my opinion.

FYI: other disease our Civil War ancestors died from included; Typhoid Fever, Ague “Swamp Fever”, Yellow Fever, Malaria, Scurvy, Pneumonia, Tuberculosis, Smallpox, ant others to a lesser degree including Chicken Pox, Scarlet Fever, Measles, Mumps and Whooping Cough.

What caused the diseases? Poor hygiene, garbage in camp, filth from camp sinks, overcrowding, exposure to all types of weather, improper and inadequate diet, spoiled food, bugs, lack of surgeons and impure water.  Many of our rural soldiers were like the Indians when colonist first started to arrive, they had no immunity to the diseases. It was the first time to be exposed to large groups of people.

I give honor to those ancestors who suffered not only the emotional separation from family, sometimes fought against family, seeing a brethren die at their side, and the horrid living conditions they lived in to stand strong in their beliefs.

All wars have the same emotional stress and to some degree difficult living conditions. They may not be the same type of illness in more modern wars as those from the Civil War, yet they still take the lives of those Standing Strong in their beliefs. Giving the “Ultimate Sacrifice” as Abraham Lincoln stated, to protect our freedoms.


This Memorial Day, celebrated on 25 May 2015, I stand in honor and salute all who “Gave the Ultimate Sacrifice.”

Honour to All!
Honour to All!


Claudius B Abbe Family Tree
Claudius B Abbe Family Tree

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