Skip to comments.Malarial mosquitoes helped defeat British in battle that ended Revolutionary War
Posted on 10/19/2010 2:08:48 AM PDT by Palter
Major combat operations in the American Revolution ended 229 years ago on Oct. 19, at Yorktown. For that we can thank the fortitude of American forces under George Washington, the siegecraft of French troops of Gen. Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, the count of Rochambeau - and the relentless bloodthirstiness of female Anopheles quadrimaculatus mosquitoes.
Those tiny amazons conducted covert biological warfare against the British army.Female mosquitoes seek mammalian blood to provide the proteins they need to make eggs. No blood meal,no reproduction. It makes them bold and determined to bite.
Some anopheles mosquitoes carry the malaria parasite, which they can inject into human bloodstreams when taking their meals.In eastern North America, A. quadrimaculatus was the sole important malaria vector. It carried malaria from person to person, and susceptible humans carried it from mosquito to mosquito. In the 18th century, no one suspected that mosquitoes carried diseases.
Malaria, still one of the most deadly infectious diseases in the world, was a widespread scourge in North America until little more than a century ago. The only people resistant to it were either those of African descent - many of whom had inherited genetic traits that blocked malaria from doing its worst - or folks who had already been infected many times, acquiring resistance the hard way. In general, the more bouts you survive, the more resistant you are.
Malaria was all over the American South but especially prevalent in the warm, humid coastlands from Georgia to Maryland, where the climate suited mosquitoes and there were plenty of people (and other mammals) to bite.
In 1779 the British chose a "southern strategy" in their war against rebellious Americans. Since 1775, they had fought inconclusively, with the British controlling the main ports but unable to hold the countryside.
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Ping. Ya might need to use Bugmenot, because it’s a Wash Post article.
Especially the presidential shield-seeing as we elected an insect.
Dem Mosquitos beat the French in Panama as well
Once committed to Yorktown, Cornwallis faced a biological warfare campaign he could not counter.
At least he waited till the last paragraph to accuse us of germ warfare.
I can definitely attest to the mosquitos in that area.
Up until my teens, I grew up a few miles from Yorktown and remember the mosquitos being so bad that in the summer that the local military bases (Langley Air Force Base mostly) using military planes to spray every other week for mosquitos.
The Vietnam War (the early years) suffered from this mosquito. A vicious little bastard. The evacuation rates from the battlefield for “...persistent, continuous fever of 102 degrees for 24 hours” led to some units dropping a very high percentage of their men.
Also led to introduction of “The Orange Pill/Monday morning pill.” Now a known cancer causer. Dapsone, taken daily when outside the wire. Another known cancer causer.
evidently the mosquito’s were rebels and only bit the Brit’s and Germans? So I guess it wasn’t Nathanael Greene, Daniel Morgan, and Francis Marion after all. (BTW Morgan contracted malaria in SC, forcing him to retire from command),
The RevWar/Colonial History?General Washington ping list...
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Interesting article, but McNeill makes a false claim “without mosquitoes there would be no U.S.” Even if it could be proved that mosquitoes helped, clsiming success on one factor is a bad argument.
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I didn’t read the entire article, but perhaps the locals to the region had contracted malaria several times during their lives while living there and so were immune to its effects, while the Brits were not.
Although many of the Americans were from up north and came with Washington, so I suppose they got it as well.
Malaria is caused by a parasite in your blood stream.
Back then when you had it, it would regularly symptomatically flair up once contracted it. You don’t get immune, like mumps or measles. It was a very bad thing,
BTW - World War II: Many troops had to suffer casualties by inflicted malaria even in World War II. Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s predicament in May 1943 is very clear: “This will be a long war if for every division I have facing the enemy I must count on a second division in hospital with malaria and a third division convalescing from this debilitating disease!” It appears that the general was not at all worried about defeating the Japanese, but was greatly concerned about the failure to defeat the Anopheles mosquito! 60,000 U.S. troops died in Africa and the South Pacific from malaria. U.S. Forces could succeed only after organising a successful attack on malaria.
“..it would regularly symptomatically flair up once contracted it.”
Interesting. I did some work in Papua New Guinea and one of our local workers didn’t show up. His friend said he had malaria. I had this worried look on my face and his friend said “No problem, he should be back to work next week”. So perhaps this was not so much him “getting” malaria, but just the symptoms showing up again.
Agreed. Probably worse than claiming all success was due to the French.
Bump & a malaria-resistance gap ping
FYI the last state in the US to eradicate Malaria was......of course Mississippi.
Call me crazy, but the French fleet keeping the British fleet out of the Chesapeake strikes me as tad bit more important.
If the British had been able to quell that rebellion, rest assured many more would have followed. There was no way the British government could keep the American colonies from eventually becoming independent.
Americans have quite the independent streak, don't we? The powers that be are learning that all over again this year. :-))