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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

October 11, 1861

“Disease, Climate, Inaction” Worst Enemies

The Richmond Times Dispatch printed an item arguing that the South’s worst enemies were not Union soldiers, but “Disease, Climate, and Inaction.”

Our worst enemies. –The most dangerous enemies whom the South has to fear are Disease, Climate, and Inaction. The public eye is fixed upon the armed host of invaders as the principal object of concern, when, in fact, the Grand Army is one of the smallest dangers we have to apprehend. Every military man understands the vast importance of an efficient system of supplying proper food and clothing to soldiers, and of taking the most effectual measures to prevent disease.–All the great commanders of the world have looked to these departments with as much solicitude and energy as to the battle-field, never failing to recognize and act upon the principle that the most destructive enemies of the soldier are to be found in his own camp. The Confederate army has now nearly finished a summer campaign, in which the battle of Manassas was merely an episode, not to be compared in its tragic features to the silent and deadly struggles with sickness and privation which constitute the real battles of every war. We cannot expect our gallant soldiers to triumph over disease and climate, and we confess that we look forward to the coming winter with the most profound solicitude that measures should be immediately taken for the preservation of the health and comfort of the army. We learn that there is already great suffering among our noble volunteers in Northwestern Virginia, a bleak and variable climate, where the winter sets in early, and where the difficulties of transportation would seem to require the most prompt and systematic preparation for the supply, shelter, and clothing of our troops. The subject is one of vital and pressing importance.