Bacteria and Bayonets: The Impact of Disease in American Military History

Bacteria and Bayonets: The Impact of Disease in American Military History

by David Petriello


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Bacteria and Bayonets: The Impact of Disease in American Military History by David Petriello

For hundreds of years men have fought and died to expand and protect the United States relying on martial skill and patriotism. Various powerful enemies, from the British to the Nazis, and legendary individuals including Tecumseh and Robert E. Lee have all fallen before the arms of the American soldier. Yet the deadliest enemy faced by the nation, one which killed more soldiers than all of its foes combined, has been both unrecognized and unseen. The war waged by the United States against disease, and by disease against the United States, has impacted the country more than any other conflict and continues to present a terrible threat to this day.

Illness has been more than just a historical cause of casualties for the American military, in numerous wars it has helped to decide battles, drive campaigns, and determine strategy. In fact the Patriots owed pestilence as much for their victory in the Revolution as they did their own force of arms. Likewise disease helped to prevent the conquest of Canada in 1812, drove strategy in the Mexican War, handicapped Lee’s 1862 advance, and helped lead to World War II. Disease also provided an edge in the wars against Native Americans, yet just as soon turned on the US when unacclimated US troops were dispatched to the southern Pacific.

This book not only traces the path of disease in American military history but also recounts numerous small episodes and interesting anecdotes related to the history of illness. Overall it presents a compelling story, one that has been overlooked and under appreciated. Yellow fever, malaria, tuberculosis, glanders, bubonic plague, smallpox, and numerous other bacteria and viruses all conspired to defeat America, and are enemies that need to be recognized.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781612003412
Publisher: Casemate Publishers
Publication date: 02/01/2016
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 1,025,396
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

David R. Petriello was born in 1980 in Montclair, NJ. He finished his BA in Asian Studies at Seton Hall University before going on to receive a Masters in History from Montclair State and a Doctorate in History from St. John’s University. Previous books include American Prometheus: Ronald Reagan and the Modernization of China (Published Dissertation, 2014) and The Military History of New Jersey (History Press, 2014). This book is the first major work to address the issue of disease and its impact upon the military history of America. It presents an interesting angle on the development of the nation from its founding to the present day.

Table of Contents

Preface 7

Introduction 9

1 Columbus Day or Contagion Day: Disease "Arrives" in America 11

2 "Deus Flavit Nasus et Dissipati Sunt": The Protestant Wind and the Catholic Flu 23

3 Pocahontas and the Plague: The English and Disease in the Conquest of the Colonies 29

4 "The Paths to Glory Lead but to the Grave": Disease in the Early French and Indian Wars 42

5 "Pestilence Gave Them a Common Death": Disease and the English Conquest of North America 64

6 Typhus and Taxation: Disease and the American Revolution 74

7 A Nation Forged in Gout and Expanded by Venereal Disease: A Medical Look at the Early Republic 116

8 Montezuma's Revenge: Disease and Manifest Destiny 138

9 Johnny Dysentery and Billy Typhus: Disease and the Civil War 151

10 Remember the Maine, to Hell with Yellow Fever: Imperialism and Illness 172

11 Love in the Age of Cholera, Warfare in the Age of Typhoid: Progressivism and Pestilence 185

12 Bullets, Bayonets, and Botulism: Biological Warfare in the Twentieth Century 199

13 Al-Qaeda, Anthrax, and America: Terrorism and Disease in Post-Cold War America 219

Conclusion 225

Endnotes 227

Bibliography 244

Index 259

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