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What Is Scorbutus?
Graves at Andersonville Prison
Civil War Deaths from Scorbutus
It confused me at first, to see many of the deaths in Andersonville Civil War prison attributed to scorbutus. What was scorbutus? My great-great grandfather, who spent six months in Andersonville, was listed as suffering from scorbutus when he was paroled.
It didn't take long to solve the first mystery using an Internet search. Scorbutus was an old-fashioned name for scurvy. All I knew about scurvy was that early sailors used limes to avoid the illness during their long times at sea. Now, the question was, "why did so many men in Andersonville suffer from and even die from scurvy?
The focus of this page is on Andersonville Prison and the effects of scurvy or scorbutus on the prisoners of war held there.
Symptoms of Scorbutus or Scurvy - described by Andersonville prisoners in diaries or memoirs
If you want to read some of these accounts yourself, quite a few Andersonville diaries are online.
- Weakness, aching - John Whitten, Andersonville prisoner, recorded in his diary that he felt like an old man and could hardly get around even with a cane.
- The hamstrings contract, drawing up the legs so the victim cannot walk.
- Tender gums and sore mouth
- Legs and feet begin to swell
- Sores appear on the body - One prisoner described that many of his comrades were "rotting alive" with scorbutic ulcers (from Andersonville: The Last Depot).
- Wounds don't heal well
Early History of Scurvy
- Dr. James Lind's 1747 Experiment Found a Treatment for Scurvy
How Dr. James Lind discovered the treatment for scurvy, the mysterious and fearful disease known to man in the 15th century. Read the whole article by clicking the link.
What to Eat to Prevent Scurvy or Scorbutus
It's disturbing to see the statistics on how many soldiers in the Civil War died not from being shot or stabbed but from diseases like measles or other illnesses that we now consider preventable.
Scurvy was certainly preventable, but ignorance led to many suffering and dying from it. Here's what they needed to eat to keep away scorbutus.
- Citrus fruits like limes
- most fruits and vegetables like berries, potatoes, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, cabbage...
Rice to Prevent Scurvy
It's sad that so many men died from a disease that could have been cured by a few onions.
What Did You Know about Scorbutus?
Vote in the poll
Other Causes of Death at Andersonville Prison
- Jaundice (also called Icterus)
- Rubeola - Measles
- Smallpox - Variola
Civil War Medicine - Informative Videos from YouTube
Many of the Deaths at Andersonville Were Due to Scurvy
This one is fairly rare, so rather expensive, I'm afraid.
My Great-Great Grandfather Suffered from Scorbutus While at Andersonville Prison
- Starvation at Andersonville Prison
Andersonville Prison in Georgia was notorious for the starvation suffered by Union soldiers there during the Civil War. Why did it happen and how did the prisoners survive the brutal conditions there?
This one has an affordable version in Kindle.
Read More about the Topic - with these books from Amazon
You can also check at the public library for additional information or to request one of these books. It will probably have to be inter-library loaned as most libraries won't have these vintage titles on hand.
A Sad Spot - The Cemetery at Andersonville
Limeys - How The British Navy Conquered Scurvy
Book - Scurvy, Past and Present
I've been reading the free Kindle version of this one. It's available in hard copy also.
It's interesting to see the studies done in 1918 and treatment theories as scurvy was a problem in WWI too.
The Health of Men Entering the Army in the Civil War
© 2011 Virginia Allain