Medicine and the American Revolution

How Diseases and Their Treatments Affected the Colonial Army


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About the Book

Nearly nine times as many died from diseases during the American Revolution as did from wounds. Poor diet, inadequate sanitation and sometimes a lack of basic medical care caused such diseases as dysentery, scurvy, typhus, smallpox and others to decimate the ranks. Scurvy was a major problem for both the British and American navies, while venereal diseases proved to be a particularly vexing problem in New York. Respiratory diseases, scabies and other illnesses left nearly 4,000 colonial troops unable to fight when George Washington’s troops broke camp at Valley Forge in June 1778. From a physician’s perspective, this is a unique history of the American Revolution and how diseases impacted the execution of the war effort. The medical histories of Washington and King George III are also provided.

About the Author(s)

The late Oscar Reiss, was a retired physician. He lived in San Diego, California.

Bibliographic Details

Oscar Reiss, M.D.
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 286
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2005 [1998]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2160-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0495-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     vi
Preface     1

1. Army Medicine     3
2. Leaders of the Medical Department     51
3. Smallpox and the Canadian Invasion     81
4. Disease and Medical Care in the Navy     117
5. Syphillis and the Loss of New York     153
6. Dysentery and the Prisoners of War     165
7. Typhus and the Army Hospitals     183
8. Valley Forge and Scabies     193
9. Malaria and the Southern Campaign     205

Appendix: The Health of George Washington and King George III     219
Notes     249
Bibliography     265
Index     273

Book Reviews & Awards

“detailed”—The Patriot Resource; “a unique history”—Reference & Research Book News.