Fort Laramie's Struggle with Typhoid Fever, 1871-1889.
Annals of Wyoming
Vol. 83, No. 3
This article is simultaneously one of the most illuminating, fascinating, and icky articles on Army life I've ever read. It explores, in clear, concise language, with just the right number of facts and figures, how disease was rampant in the 18th and 19th Century Army, and why (ick). About 1/4 of the article just explores sanitary conditions, the Miasmatic Theory of Disease, and the Germ Theory of Disease, as they relate to the 18th and 19th Century Army in general, with the remaining portion of the article dealing with the appalling practice of digging wells and privies on the grounds of Ft. Laramie. Indeed, as the article relates, by the late 19th Century when Army doctors were fully appreciative of the germ theory of disease the ground at Ft. Laramie was so funkified, it provided part of the reason for abandoning the fort.
An example of the conditions:
"So many pits have been built, filled, and replaced behind the barracks that the ground has become thoroughly saturated in the vicinity making the digging of new replacement pit toilets behind the barracks difficult". Dr. Caldwell quote at page 21.
Indeed, as related, the situation was so bad, that even early piping put in to deliver water to some structures couldn't do so safely without being contaminated by old privies and stable effluent.
Very interesting article, and not limited to just Ft. Laramie. Provides a very interesting look at a horrifying aspect of Frontier service that's not often looked at.
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