Behind the lines, fighting malaria with whiskey

On this day in 1863: Private D.L. Day, Co. B, 25th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, writes in his journal at Hills Point on the Pamlico River:

“This being an isolated post and several miles from any commissary or sutler, the officers feared it would be terribly infected with malaria; having regard for the health and welfare of the men, they prevailed on our assistant surgeon, Doctor Flagg, to order whiskey rations.

“Up went the order and down came the whiskey, and now the order is to drink no more river water, but take a little whiskey as a preventive. This will prove a terrible hardship to the boys, but the surgeon’s order is imperative.

“Commanders of companies deal out the whiskey to their men, consequently, I deal out to mine, and when I wish to reward any of my braves for gallant and meritorious conduct, I manage to slop a little extra into their cups. That keeps them vigilant and interested and gallant. Meritorious conduct consists of bringing in watermelons, peaches and other subsistence, of which they somehow become possessed.”

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