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36 Flora take care of yourself and not get sick. I know how fond you are of fruit and trash. Please for my sake do not eat it this fall—Chinkapins nor Muscadines . Do not eat such trash for it may give you the same disease our first born died with.”22 Private Robert A. Moore, 17th Mississippi Regiment, at Culpeper, Virginia , on Aug. 9, 1861: “[We] took a trip to Peidmont Springs. They are about six miles from here. We had a very pleasant trip of it. Saw a great number of chinkapins but they were green.”23 A. L. Peel, Adjuntant, 19th Mississippi Regiment, near Centreville, Virginia , on Sept. 22, 1861: “Lieut Barksdale myself & some others went out Chinkapin hunting & got a good many.”24 Captain Samuel T. Foster, 24th Texas Cavalry (dismounted), at Pickett ’s Mill, Georgia, on May 27, 1864: “Our position is in a heavy timbered section with chinquapin bushes as an undergrowth.”25 C i n c h o n a Some speculate that Alexander the Great died of a stab wound. Others think that the deadly dagger was likely not that of his Persian enemies but rather the proboscis of a malaria-infected mosquito. The relationship between conquest and malaria continued through the ages, destroying armies and civilians alike. Along with destruction of the Inca civilization the Spanish brought malaria to the New World. Ironically, the invasion revealed a secret long known by the natives of Peru—the bark of a certain small tree that grew on steep Andean slopes would relieve fevers, including those of malaria. The natives called it quinquina, the “bark of barks.” The invaders named the tree Cinchona (Cinchona spp.). In 1640 Jesuit priests brought the powerful malaria medicine back to Europe, but it wasn’t until 1820 that two French doctors were able to isolate the potent chemical in the bark, now known as quinine. At the time they did not understand that mosquito-borne Plasmodium protozoans caused the malarial fevers, and that the medicine worked by suppressing the organisms’ ability to multiply . The link between mosquitoes and malaria was not discovered until after the Civil War.1 The impacts on the Civil War of malaria and of quinine as an effective   Cinchona  37 treatment are incalculable. Almost a million cases of the disease were recorded just among Union troops, and entire units were incapacitated at times.2 In response, the Union’s Medical Purveying Bureau alone issued more than one million ounces of quinine compounds, and quinine and its derivative cinchona were the most prescribed medicines for all types of fevers.3 One author wrote, “Alcohol was the sovereign remedy of the Civil War, rivaled only by quinine.”4 Leaders on both sides realized the value of quinine and sought its procurement in different ways. The only two domestic manufacturers of quinine during the Civil War, Powers and Weightman, and Rosengarten and Sons, were both in the North.5 Lacking these resources, the South obtained most of its quinine through smuggling operations and the capture of Union supplies. After the war one southern pharmacist wrote: The excessive high price of quinine made its handling a profitable employment . Almost every means known to human ingenuity were employed to smuggle it through the lines. . . . Officers speculating in it, buying and selling until this created a scandal almost equal to that of speculating in cotton , and it was finally stopped by a strong proclamation. A large contraband trade was carried on by an almost continuous line of house-boats floating on the Mississippi river. When opposite Memphis the goods were either sent in at night or into the interior of Arkansas, where trusty parties soon disposed of the stock. The great bulk of this trade was sent out by traders and speculators in Paducah, Ky., and Cairo, Ill., and their main points of operation were Memphis, Tenn., Helena, Ark., Napoleon, Ark., and Greenville, Miss.6 As the war progressed, the effectiveness of the Union blockade increased . The British blockade runner Nutfield with a cargo of quinine from Bermuda was run aground by the USS Sassacus off the North Carolina coast in February 1864.7 One southern observer remarked: “Until the latter part of 1863 the supplies of quinine, chloroform, and other medicines were quite sufficient, and only subsequently, when blockade running had become irregular and finally suppressed, did our sick and wounded really suffer for the proper supplies.”8 As a result the South turned more to indigenous plants as substitutes. These included...


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