"Spanish" Flu Pandemic of the 1860's

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Highlander, May 25, 2009.

  1. Highlander Banned

    Oct 20, 2005
    What if a flu pandemic of the level of that of 1918/19 took place during this time period, specifically in America during the Civil War? What would the effects on the tides of the war, and the country?
  2. Fiver Curmudgeon

    Oct 28, 2007
    If it's like OTLs pandemic, it's going to fall hard on both armies, though probably harder on the Confederate Army since they weren't as well fed or clothed. The war could grind to a halt until the pandemic passes.

    Of course, this could also affect the French Invasion of Mexico, the Meiji Restoration, the Taiping Rebellion, German Unification, and Italian Unification.

    Plus, a lot depends on who falls ill and whether they survive. The right person dying could trigger any number of succession crises - for just one example, Napoleon III's son is still a child. If Bismark dies Germany will not unify the way it did. Other single deaths could erase the Bahai religion, or acceptance of the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and Papal Infallibility, or the Nobel Prize, or the Suez Canal.
  3. David S Poepoe Banned

    Jan 1, 2004
    El Segundo, California
    I would almost consider that the increase in speed of transportation has really made pandemics more likely. I would think it harder for there to be a Spanish Flu pandemic is we were to take into account gestation of the disease in with transportation. Also I would wonder if the 19th century methods of quarantine were inadvertantly helping to slow the spread of disease.
  4. Solarius Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2009
    It depends on which army it reaches first.
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    Would the squalor of the US and CS army camps contribute heavily to illness? Would the concurrent epidemics of dysentery weaken men to the point where influenza would easily kill many already-weakened men?

    The soldiers on both sides weren't eating well-rounded diets (hardtack and salt pork are quite vitamin deficient) and calomel and blue mass would be ineffective for any influenza outbreak (let alone anything, really). An influenza outbreak during the American Civil War would have been catastrophic in the least, with many more soldiers dying of disease than OTL.

    Nevermind the fact that cities like NYC, Boston, New Orleans, would likely be incapacitated by such an illness. Trade and supply lines would become extremely impaired, leaving soldiers even less nourished and cared-for Perhaps the war would have ended on account of a raging flu epidemic, with both sides brokering deals simply because of the impossibility of maintaining armies.