Civil War Medicine Quiz: The People and Innovations That Changed Medicine

Albert B. Lowenfels, MD


May 21, 2015

Image courtesy of National Institutes of Health

Union soldiers regularly received doses of quinine in an effort to control malaria, a prevalent disease in many of the Confederate states. The beneficial effects of quinine, a bitter-tasting alkaloid obtained from the bark of the cinchona tree, had been known since the first half of the seventeenth century. In many camps, in an effort to control symptoms of malaria, which afflicted more than a million Union soldiers, soldiers were required to line up for daily quinine pills—often administered along with a ration of whiskey. The city of Philadelphia provided the Union Army with several tons of quinine; in the South, supplies were limited, with smuggling being one of the main sources of supply. The US Army continued to use quinine during World War I and occasionally even during the World War II.[13,14]

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