8 January 1863: “We have had several cases of fever lately, occasioned, it is said, by malaria from the lower swamps in the neighborhood.”

Item description: Portions of “Leaves from a Diary Written While Serving in Co. E, 44 Mass., Dep’t of No. Carolina,” an account, written by John Jasper Wyeth of Co. E, of the experiences of the 44th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. The book includes this letter written on 8 January 1863, which describes an apparent outbreak of malaria.

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Item citation: From, “Leaves from a diary written while serving in Co. E, 44 Mass., Dep’t of No. Carolina, from September, 1862, to June, 1863.” by John Jasper Wyeth, Boston, L. F. Lawrence & Co., 1878. Catalog Number: C970.742 W97, North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

January 8. — We have had several cases of fever lately, occasioned, it is said, by malaria from the lower swamps in the neighborhood. We have one slough close by us, between our barracks and the river. At first we tried to fill it up, but finding it apparently had no bottom, gave it up, and now use it to empty our swill into, keeping it constantly stirred up, of course. Our camp is on as high and dry ground as any in the neighborhood, but there is evidently something about it which is wrong.

We are now also having the benefit of the rainy season, consequently most of our drill is in-doors. We like it for a change, as it gives us more leisure to write; and I fear we are getting fearfully lazy, as we do a great deal of sleeping. It is about time to give us another march or we will get rusty. The rain still reigns, and we probably will not move till it is over.

Just about this time look out for quinine. We are ordered to take it every night to kill the fever. Our captain looks out for us, that we do not lose our share. Generally, Sergeant Thayer goes round with the big bottle, giving each man his dose, the captain following close by. Several have tried various ways to dodge it, but they were too sharp for us, and when they caught us we had to take a second glass of it. We would give ours up if we thought there was not enough to go through the officers’ tents; but they say they take their dose after us. We are afraid it is a long time after.

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