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  Flies and Mosquitoes 149 • Soldiers often mentioned species new and interesting to them, and some even discovered that they were considered “fish” themselves. Surgeon’s Steward C. Marion Dodson aboard the USS Pocahontas off the eastern seaboard on April 27, 1864: “First time I ever saw flying fish. Seemed quite curious to us all. Also saw Nautalus. They would spread out their web sails and really look like a miniature craft under way.”42 JohnKing,40thGeorgiaInfantry,onhisfirstdayatCampChasePrison in Columbus, Ohio: “The light of day had come, and with its coming the old prisoners, who were awakened from their slumbers of the night, seeing us walking over the prison grounds began to exclaim ‘Fresh Fish.’ The refrain came back from many others who, aroused by the cry, were coming from their bunks in the prison pews, anxious to see the ‘Fresh Fish.’ Very naturally we looked about to see some monger who was bringing in ‘fresh fish’ for our breakfast, and began to feel our appetites sharpened in anticipation of a feast after our long fasting. We were soon undeceived, as we discovered that we were the ‘Fresh Fish.’”43 F l i e s a n d M o s q u i to e s Of all the species in the animal kingdom, none had more impact on the Civil War than those in the taxonomic insect order Diptera. Characterized by a single pair of wings, this group includes mosquitoes, houseflies, black flies, sand flies, horse flies, gnats, midges, and many more. About 120,000 species have been described, with estimates of more than one million species worldwide. The basic life cycle involves egg, larva (maggots in some species), pupa, and adult. While some kinds of flies are important plant pollinators, this group of insects is renowned for the misery and suffering it caused to Civil War participants . The irritating bites of hordes of blood-sucking parasites such as mosquitoes, sand flies, and black flies were overshadowed by disease and death caused by these species in their roll as vectors of pathogens. Common houseflies (Musca domestica) can transmit poliomyelitis, typhoid 150 Fauna fever, tuberculosis, anthrax, leprosy, cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, and conjunctivitis .1 Although the relationship was not discovered until after the Civil War, the plagues of malaria and yellow fever were borne on the wings of mosquitoes. Citizens, soldiers, horses, and mules all struggled to survive this second war with the armies of insect order Diptera. Colonel Thomas W. Higginson, 1st South Carolina [African American] Volunteers, at Port Royal Island, South Carolina, on April 17, 1863: “not even dreams had prepared me for sandflies. Almost too small to be seen they bite worse than musquitos & leave more lasting soreness. They are almost incompatible with Dress Parade; fancy me standing motionless, with my face a mere nebula of these little wretches, torrents of tears rolling down my expressive countenance, from mere muscular irritation. They are however a valuable addition to discipline as they abound in the guard house and render that institution an object of unusual abhorrence. Thus do the weak things of the earth confound the mighty.”2 Reuben A. Pierson, 9th Louisiana Infantry, in a letter to his sister from Camp Moore, Louisiana, on June 20, 1861: “There are more flies in and around Camp Moore than there are in all Bienville Parish. . . . It would turn the stomach of any other being except a soldier to go into one of the eating houses kept on this encampment. The flies are so thick until you have to be careful in carrying a mouthful from your plate to your mouth lest a fly should alight upon it before it is received.”3 Private George A. Remley, 22nd Iowa Volunteers, in a letter to his mother from near Vicksburg, Mississippi, on June 9, 1863: “I am sitting by Lycurgus [his brother] keeping the flies off him with one hand and writing with the other, just now, however, Lycurgus offered to do that for himself until I get through writing.”4 Private Wilbur Fisk, 2nd Vermont Volunteers, near Warrenton, Virginia , in a letter to his hometown newspaper on Aug. 13, 1863: “Flies, too, are becoming miraculously abundant, and as annoying as they are abundant . We have the most prolific species of this insect here that I ever saw. I believe they increase fourfold every day, and have done so in regular geometrical progression ever since dog days commenced. They swarm everywhere and torment a fellow from daylight till dark. They hover in his...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780807137994
Related ISBN
9780807136881
MARC Record
OCLC
680039323
Pages
280
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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