The Health of the British Soldier in America, 1775--1781

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McMaster University (Canada), 2006 - Military hygiene - 215 pages
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This doctoral dissertation, "The Health of the British Soldier in America, 1775-1781", addresses the following questions: What diseases afflicted the soldiers and why? What health-related problems faced the army in North America, what solutions were proposed, and how effective were these? In order to answer these questions, the dissertation focuses on the incidence of disease, the nature of military medical care, diet and nutrition, and the army's responses to environment. Using military returns, this study establishes a rate of morbidity of almost eleven percent for the British army in North America. It also demonstrates the influence of season and location on health, identifying the southern theatres and the autumn season as the most inimical to health. In addition, it demonstrates the dramatic dangers posed to the army by diseases such as malaria, typhus and dysentery. It also challenges widely-held negative characterizations of both military doctors and of the army itself in the eighteenth century, demonstrating the professionalism and flexibility of many officers and surgeons. Furthermore, it reveals the increasing importance of prevention in military and medical circles, including an emphasis on diet, sanitation and hygiene. Finally, the relative health of the British army, compared to their American counterparts and their predecessors in the Seven Years War, suggests that these efforts were at least partially successful. This dissertation therefore contributes to our understanding of the relationship between war, medicine and health in the early modern period, and provides valuable insights into health and medical knowledge and practice in the eighteenth century.

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