The Impact of Disease on the Civil War

byIntisar K. Hamidullah

This unit will focus on teaching middle school students about the impact of disease during the Civil War. When my students think about war they only envision video games, music videos, and movies. Teaching this unit will add to their vision and prior knowledge of war. I will impress upon students that the environment of the Civil War was filled with measles, syphilis, tuberculosis, smallpox and other diseases. During this unit students will connect the history of the Civil War with the history of the aforementioned diseases. We will explore the implications of how and why disease affected US history since the Civil War had the highest number of deaths from disease and not bullets. Exploration of the diseases will take place by traveling throughout the Civil War and discussing the relationships between the historical events that occurred. Simultaneously we will study how the diseases affected the soldiers' mortality before, during and after the war. Lastly students will be able to connect their history of diseases to how society deals with the diseases today.

(Developed for Special Education, Social Studies, Science, and Language Arts, grades 7-8; recommended for Middle School Special Education, Social Studies, Math, Science, and Language Arts, grades 7-8)

Comments (3)

    Xoe Near Edwards (Aurora School District, Aurora, MO)
    Subject taught: science, Grade: 8
    Helpful Information
    Thank you this article was very helpful to me. I am working on a finals project and this helped a lot so thank you again.
    John M Pisciotta (WCU, West Chester, PA)
    Subject taught: Industrial Microbiology
    Suggestion on Gettysburg Address
    Hello Xoe,

    As a microbiologist and huge Civil War buff I greatly enjoyed your article on infectious diseases during the war.

    However, one thing you may want to changes relates to the Gettysburg Address. It was given on Nov 18, 1863 and not after the war. Indeed, Lincoln was killed before the war ever ended.

    Other than that, I thought your article was well written, interesting and informative. Kind regards.

    John Pisciotta
    ANDREW JOHNS HILLIKER (Regional Technical Assistance Corporation, SAINT LOUIS, MO)
    Subject taught: Environmental Compliance
    The Civil War and Disease
    The North, in the Civil War had implemented, largely through volunteer efforts, \"Sanitary\" methods that had been popularized by Florence Nightingale of Crimean War fame. These methods, and new and innovative methods greatly reduced the effects of disease in the Civil War from previous wars. The effects of disease were still much greater than battlefield fatalities.

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