The “sick regiment”

On August 1, the regiment moved four miles northeast from its post-battle camp near the Stone Bridge to Centreville.

A week later, illness had so overtaken the 13th that Pvt. Thomas D. Wallace of the Winston Guards wrote:All of our regiment is sick at this time. There isn’t enough of us to wait on the sick and stand guard so we have no guards. We have the name of the ‘sick regiment’ now.”

Disease killed many more Civil War soldiers than weapons did, especially on the Rebel side—an estimated 75 percent of their 258,000 deaths. Many of them were country boys with little exposure to large numbers of people and they thus had not developed immunity to even such common childhood diseases as the measles.

So it’s not surprising that within days after First Manassas, many of the 13th Mississippi were stricken, and some dying, mainly with measles, but also bronchitis, “bilious fever,” diarrhea, pneumonia, and typhoid fever.

Within two weeks of the battle, the outbreak was almost epidemic.

Quartermaster clerk William H. Hill was recording deaths day after day, because he was ordering the building of the coffins.

“600 men of our regiment reported on the sick list this morning,” Hill wrote on Aug. 5. “Three of our regiment died today.”

About Dick Stanley

Retired Texas daily newspaperman
This entry was posted in The Winston Guards, Thomas David Wallace Diary, William H. Hill Diary. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The “sick regiment”

  1. Disease. The third army during the Civil War. It harbored anger for all. Thanks for this. It gives me a few ideas. Hope you’re well.

  2. My Great Uncle Henry Peterson Died from sickness during this time. I have two records recorded history.
    1) Muster roll ~ Henry Peterson enlisted May 13 1861 Corinth, Miss for 12m. Born SC Occupation: Farmer. Residence : Webster. Age when enlisted 21 single. Died Aug 16 1861 at Leesburg, Va.
    2) Register of property of deceased Confederate Solders.Dated feb 1 1862
    H. P. Peterson Pvt, Co B 13 Regt. Miss Vols. Died at Centerville, Va Aug 15 1861. Remarks: No effects. Entitled to pay from 14 may 1861 + 25$ for clothing.

    His father William Neal Peterson was a slave owner and I have seen his slave schl. WN Peterson showed a worth of 19,000 in 1860 census.

    • Dick Stanley says:

      Yes, Henry P. was in the Winston Guards. Check the Thomas David Wallace Diary, which entry on Aug. 16, ’61 says of Henry P.: “Oh, how I hated to part with him. He seemed like a brother to me. He died on the 15th of August 1861, a day that will not be forgotten by me soon. He went to the battlefield on the 21st (of July) and he stood up like a soldier. A man I hated to part with as bad as if he had been my brother. He was sick 22 days with typhoid fever. On the 14th a parson came over from the 17th Miss. Regt. He came in our tent and knelt down by him (illegible).”

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