Skip to comments.British used bioweapon in US war of independence
Posted on 08/19/2011 12:05:56 PM PDT by Pharmboy
(Image: Everett Collection/Rex Features)
A document has just gone on display at Mount Vernon, Virginia - the museum in the former home of George Washington, first US President. It is an order dated 1777 and signed by Washington himself to send troops that had not been vaccinated for smallpox - or survived it - to Philadelphia to be vaccinated. These troops were then to join up with the main army, where the disease was raging.
It sounds like amazing foresight for its day. "Washington's careful handling of the smallpox epidemic at the beginning of the war was a significant reason for the disease not decimating his army", says Mount Vernon.
Not quite. Washington's order was likely a response, not just to a normal smallpox epidemic, but to a bioweapon wielded by the British enemy - a strategy that the redcoats had already used against the colonists to great effect earlier in the American revolutionary war.
(Excerpt) Read more at newscientist.com ...
Seems like I read that Washington employed a crude form of smallpox vaccination at Valley Forge.
The RevWar/Colonial History/General Washington ping list...
Indeed...it was called “variolation.” Jenner’s cowpox technique did not gain widespread use for another 20 or so years.
After all this time, new info comes out about the War of Independence. Not only was he begging for money daily with Congress, but did everything possible to keep the Army together. GW is the Man’.
Long Live George Washington!
>Long Live George Washington!<
And during peacetime, he was constantly helping his neighbors in many ways including loaning some money that he knew he would never get back. In my mind, no better Earthly man ever lived...
Infection by inhalation into the mouth and lungs - 30% death rate.
Anthrax has a similar difference between airborne and subcutaneous infection.
Very interesting read.
THX for the post.
Thanks for that Pharmboy. I remember reading the Brits used that against Indians during Pontiac’s rebellion. Didn’t realize they that they used it against us too. But then they used the indians against us too.
But the english were forced to use such tactics.
Killing up to half of the children of the Boers in concentration camps was unfortunate but after all the Boers were a threat to the entire world.
Starving up to one million central Europeans with blockade AFTER the surrender in 1918 was necessary as the central European powers had of course started the war by their reaction to the assasination of the heir to the Austrian throne.
This is war, or well in the case of the Boers maybe naked english aggression for their land, and in the case of the blockade, not exactly war as the enemy had surrendered,but just mass murder to dictate terms, but War, or not war it is Hell.
Perhaps what you catalog (along with much other Brit-transpired horrors, e.g., against the Irish) has them feeling so guilty that they cannot even arrest and detain criminals these days.
The Picture of Dorian Gray describes the situation quite well as well as Wilde certainly expected.
I have never seen any hard evidence the British actually tried to spread the disease among the rebels. Frankly, it sounds a little like Ward Churchill's claim the U.S. Army tried to kill Indians with "smallpox blankets." More likely is the explanation that the British troops had better immunity from smallpox because it was endemic in Europe. In contrast, smallpox was much more rare in America and our soldiers, especially those from rural areas had no immunity at all.
|GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach|
Thanks Pharmboy and colorado tanker.
I wonder how much an influence Ben Franklin was in General Washington’s decision.
Could be. The source of this article is New Scientist and they are wrong more times than they are right.
Variolation wasnt compulsory, but it was highly recommended. The Continual Congress wanted each and every soldier variolated. They were to be vaccinated because of two reasons. The first was that soldiers could easily contract smallpox from each other and from the civilian population. The other reason was that a few people in the Continual Congress were well aware that the British had used smallpox as a weapon previously during the French and Indian War, in 1763. At the PBS web site we discovered a letter from the British Commander-in Chief, Sir Jeffery Amherst: "Could it not be contrived to send smallpox among these disaffected tribes of Indians? We must use every stratagem in our power to reduce them."
In her book, Pox Americana: The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82, Elizabeth Anne Fenn points out that 130,000 North Americans lost their lives to smallpox. Washington, aware of what the British had done in 1763, decreed that letters from Boston were to be dipped in vinegar to kill the germs. When it became evident that the British were attempting to spread smallpox by invariolating civilians and sending them out among his troops (remember, an invariolated individual was contagious for at least two weeks), he asked the Continental Congress for funds to invariolate his troops.
Appealing to the international public, the Pennsylvania Gazette published, "Lord Cornwallis' attempts to spread the smallpox among the inhabitants in the vicinity of York . . . must render him contemptible in the eyes of every civilized nation."
Some put the death rate to small pox at 25%, while some virulent strains were approaching a 40% rate. Fenn puts the overall rate of death at this time at 30%. Just recently weve learned that there was a childhood form of smallpox, like chicken pox, that wasnt as deadly, but it did produce an immunity to smallpox later in life. However, this childhood smallpox was endemic of Europe and not of the early colonies.
Their cooking, now that’s a crime against humanity.
My Beef Wellington is a thing of great beauty
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.