Saturday, November 30, 2019

Why We Celebrate Thanksgiving

Jamestown 1607, Wikipedia photo
As a naturalized American citizen who has experienced hunger and tyranny in the socialist dictatorship of the Communist Party, I would like to enlighten the "academic" from George Washington University, who stated recently that Thanksgiving is a day that "makes Native Americans feel like second class citizens," and that America is an "evil and oppressive country." If anyone should feel bad during Thanksgiving, it should be the millions of turkeys.

Here is why America truly celebrates Thanksgiving and shares an abundance of food with others less fortunate.

White settlers thanked God for helping the Jamestown Colony (a settlement established by English entrepreneurs in 1607) survive starvation from a low crop yield in previous years when the colony experimented with collectivist property (Socialism/communism) and commune work. They almost starved because some members worked harder than the slackers but the meager crop was shared equally.

When the land was divided again and given to each family to work individually (good ole Capitalism and private property), the colony thrived.

Thanksgiving is not just a celebration of a bumper crop and survival, it is the celebration of the triumph of Capitalism over Socialism/Communism in 1607 in the Jamestown Colony and later in other settlements such as Plymouth Colony in 1620.

Thanksgiving was a harvest festival for a bumper crop raised under Capitalist conditions following the colony's almost extinction by starvation under Socialism/Communism the previous years.

Plymouth Colony

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Pandora’s Box of Solar Panels

Solnova Solar Station in Spain
Photo: Wikipedia
A neighbor down the street proudly placed solar panels on his house. He spent $4,000 after government subsidies and whatever deductions he may have taken from his income tax. He is confident that this move will save him tons of money on electricity and will safeguard the planet from global warming Armageddon by reducing his carbon footprint from fossil fuels.

There is one fly in this perfect ointment - solar panels generate “tons of toxic waste” during the production process and during their disposal/replacement.

The solar energy advocates, who only see cheap electricity with rose-colored glasses, are oblivious to the reality of cost, toxic chemicals, environmental pollution, and health hazards to humans and animals. Here are some immediate concerns about solar panels.

1.      How much maintenance would be required for the massive roll out of solar panels around the planet and who will pay for installation and maintenance since they do require a lot of maintenance and replacement?

2.      Solar farms and solar panels are heavily subsidized by governments. What if the subsidies stop and they have? Solyndra went bankrupt and left taxpayers holding the bag for $535 million in federal loans.

3.      Producing crystalline silicon from silicon results in a lot of input loss. “Sawing c-Si into the thin wafers used in panels creates a significant amount of waste silicon dust, up to 50 percent of which is lost in the air and water used to rinse the wafers. The process of making crystalline silicon from silicon is also inefficient; as much as 80 percent of the raw silicon is lost in the process.

4.      Health issues in the manufacture, use, and disposal of solar panels:

-          Release of silicon tetrachloride, “a very toxic substance that reacts violently with water, causes skin burns, skin, eye, and respiratory irritations.

-          Sulfur hexafluoride, a potent greenhouse gas, 23,000 times worse than CO2, used to clean the reactors used in silicon production. In the west the “molecules are captured and reused in a closed-loop process,” but in China there is silicon tetrachloride pollution from PV cell factories established to fill the demand for solar energy.

-          Cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin films are made of cadmium, which is a toxic, expensive, cancer-causing heavy metal. Cadmium can be rinsed into the water table during the production process. One percent of CdTe is released into the environment as waste. Thin-film panels that might catch on fire in a home would release cadmium.

-          Copper indium selenide (CIS) uses hydrogen selenide which is toxic and very dangerous even in low concentrations.

-          Selenium dioxide, a dangerous air pollutant, forms at high temperatures, causing problems for manufacturing workers.

Dr. David Nguyen, a cancer biologist, remarked, “The toxic chemicals in solar panels include cadmium telluride, copper indium selenide, cadmium gallium (di)selenide, copper indium gallium (di)selenide, hexafluoroethane, lead, and polyvinyl fluoride. Additionally, silicon tetrachloride, a byproduct of producing crystalline silicon, is highly toxic.”

Silicon tetrachloride, the byproduct of making wafers for monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels, is highly toxic and its improper handling can cause skin burns, pollute the air, cause lung disease, and, when exposed to water it releases hydrochloric acid (HCl), a corrosive substance. Manufacturers and recyclers are directly affected and even homeowners if their homes catch on fire.

To get a picture of the environmental impact of chemicals due to solar panels manufactured and installed by 2016, a study estimates that “photovoltaics had spread about 11,000 tons of lead and about 800 tons of cadmium” into the ecosystem.

EPA has classified cadmium as a Group B1, probable human carcinogen.

There are no salvageable parts on a solar panel so it must be decomposed, and the chemicals disposed of properly.  Disposal costs are exorbitant and unscrupulous Chinese manufacturers are releasing the toxic chemicals into the environment.

Solar power may not produce greenhouse gases while consumers use it, but it does release harmful chemicals during production. One such chemical is nitrogen trifluoride, which, according to Ray Weiss, a professor of geochemistry at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, is 17,000 stronger than carbon dioxide.

According to Deutsche Welle, Sulphur hexafluoride, a greenhouse gas released during solar panel production, is 22,800 times more potent than CO2.

Since 1997, when the U.S. produced 334.2 megawatts of solar energy, the industry has grown to 6,220.3 megawatts in 2013. For the 0.2 percent solar power usage in the U.S. (Institute for Energy Research), an insignificant amount, the solar panel production and disposal industries seem to create a lot of dangerous pollutants.

Ben Howell pointed out other issues that solar panel proponents have not entertained, the carbon footprint formed in the production, maintenance, and replacement of the following:

-          Batteries that store the generated electricity during the day so that the homeowner has electricity at night. If there are no batteries, then the power generated during sun light goes back into the grid and the owner must use utility power.

-          What is the carbon footprint and pollution from lithium mining?

-          What about the control switching and circuitry required by law that disconnects the home from the grid during a storm in order to avoid electrocution of utility workers from the live wires coming from the home, intermingling with the offline grid during repairs?

-          What about the backup fail-safe safety system if the primary system fails?

-          Smart meters have the lifespan of a cell phone, are very expensive to install and do not last if the traditional old electro-mechanical meters that are known to last basically forever. Ben Howell said that “the old-school electro-mechanical electric meter on my parents’ house was installed in 1948 and is still working accurately so far for 71 years.”

-          What is the cumulative cost of insurance to replace the solar panels after a hailstorm shatters the glass?

-          What is the cost to periodically clean the dust, pollen, tree sap, bird droppings, leaves, and other debris that block the sunlight from the solar panels?

-          What is the cost of a new roof or installing new shingles nailed in when the additional cost of disconnecting, off-loading, staging, up-loading, and re-installing solar panels are factored in?

-          Will solar panel degradation, breakage, contamination, storms, normal clouds formations, and other anomalies, causing fluctuations in the voltage and current output cause the lithium batteries to go kaput more quickly? And will such cases void the warranty on the homeowner’s appliances?

Then there is the killing of massive amounts of birds that fly into the solar panels thinking that they are water pools; or they are being fried in mid-air by the powerful heat flux generated by large fields of solar panels. And, we can scarcely afford to lose thousands of acres of arable land that produces badly need food to solar panel deployment. We have lots of deserts but who is going to install and maintain them there?

And what is going to happen to solar power generation when Bill Gates will implement his idea to stop climate change by blocking out the sun? Eight specially designed jets (to be increased eventually to 100) flying 12 miles up would spray (60,000 times over 15 years) sulfate particles into the lower stratosphere to cool down our “heated” planet, block the sun, and thus interfere with photosynthesis and the production of our food which needs sunlight to grow.

Never mind that real scientists have measured a cooling of the climate as the sun is going through a solar minimum cycle.

Prompted by climate change activists and U.N. climate change propaganda organizations, students and parents in Fairfax County are organizing a climate strike in Vienna (as part of an international strike) on December 9, 2019, calling for a Green New Deal for Fairfax Public Schools to “switch all of the schools to net-zero carbon emissions by installing solar panels and energy-efficient windows. The plan would also continue the push for electric school buses in the county.”

Considering all the toxicity in the production and recycling of solar panels, how is that net-zero carbon working out? Electric school buses get their electricity from fossil fuels, natural gas, hydro, and nuclear power simply because 0.02 percent is not enough electricity generated by solar power for our huge economy. It’s that simple, teachers, students, and parents.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Don't Buy Social Justice Goods, Buy American Again

Photo: Ileana Johnson
There was a time when I did not care where I bought my Christmas gifts from. It was in the late 1970s when Sears and J.C. Penney delivered their heavy Christmas catalogs to our rural and urban homes and women spent hours perusing the tome for the latest toys for their kids, home decorations, furniture, clothes, Christmas wreaths and trees, bedding, and other necessities for our homes. Men bought the dependable Craftsman tools. We shopped for our TVs, camera, stoves, refrigerators, microwaves, washers and driers from Sears. The famous brand, Kenmore, came in special colors like puke green and we could order those for $10 extra.

We had fewer choices, true, and there was no Amazon monopoly that conveniently dropped packages on our front doors even on Sunday via USPS or even drones. The mailman came bearing our packages. If we wanted variety, we drove to Walmart or Kmart which had not yet become superstores to make them one stop for everything.

We knew that what we ordered by mail was made in America, with proud American labor. We did not spend any time worrying about the CEO’s socialist all-encompassing political views now expressed overtly for all to see and hear. We did not spend a minute’s time thinking about the company’s anti-American stance before we opened our wallets to shop.

Credit cards were not a common thing and you had to be quite wealthy to have a Visa, a Mastercard, or an American Express card. Cell phones did not exist for the average Joe and Jane and kid’s toys were quite advanced if they had a battery that allowed children to learn spelling, counting, addition, and subtraction. Kids had to use their creativity to play outside.

We loved Christmas time and people and merchants festively decorated with their best Christmas displays, shop keepers wished everyone a Merry Christmas and the Christmas tree had not yet become the holiday tree.

Today progressives tell us that we must not offend new arrivals with our Christmas traditions and therefore we must do away with them altogether. People who are conquered must forget their traditions and replace them with the customs of the wiser third worlders whom we’ve “exploited for centuries” and now is their time to tell us what to do and how.

The goods today are made in China, Jordan, South America, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, or other inimical countries in which workers, especially women and children, are paid pennies per hour to produce our American goods. But the goods are advertised as social justice goods which are developed sustainably and somehow, that false knowledge makes the left feel good. We all know it is advertising drivel.

The associates helping us in department stores are foreign-born or illegal and are lecturing us about the evils of America that is so socially and racially unjust and corrupt. They left everything they loved behind in their third world country they’ve hailed from in order to come to this intolerant country that is rolling the red carpet of welfare for them the moment they cross the border illegally. It was so much better in their countries, but they had to come to America to set us straight and take our generous handouts.

Companies located in places like Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, California, and Washington lecture us on our divergent political views that they aim to curtail while offering us goods for sale that we must think twice before we open our wallets to.

Some even tell us that our business is not welcome in their stores. They don’t need American customers who love our country, they are looking for globalist customers who cater to open borders and praise the virtue of the oppressed from other countries, preferably non-Caucasians.

Goods are advertised and sold as “sustainable” or “green” even though they could not be produced in a more polluted environment than that of third world countries that are flooding our oceans with their refuse because their governments don’t really care what they do to the environment they share with us. We can recycle until doomsday – none of it will make much impact until countries like China and India take measures to stop polluting like there is no tomorrow.

We were told in the 1980s that paper grocery bags were killing our trees and we must switch to plastics. Paper bags are bio-degradable. We now have plastic bags thrown about, and floating in the rivers and oceans, so the leftist solution is to charge a few pennies for them instead of providing them inclusive in the price of doing business. Recycling and burning of all trash is possible but punishing the consumer with fees and taxes is the leftist way to solve a problem they created in the first place.

I try to buy products now that are made in America, truly American, with American labor. It is much harder to do so as Amazon, Walmart, and our insane online shopping have put so many mom and pop stores out of business. We are told that places like Sears have closed so many stores because they failed to adapt to the Internet age. The very people who sold their goods first by mail could not adapt to online shopping.

One thing is sure, when all the small, medium, and large companies will be shut down because of the behemoth Amazon that offers everything online with free shipping or minimal cost, people will be left with one monopoly, fewer choices perhaps, and higher shipping costs. When a company becomes as large as most governments, dictating consumption, the outcome may or may not be ideal. History has shown that centralized governments are not very good at running economies and satisfying consumption needs.

Perhaps you don’t mind being trampled on during Black Friday for whatever specials a store may offer. Yes, you can avoid the crowds in malls and stores, save on gas, shop online and wait for the purchases to come to your door, but, what if the last store standing suddenly cannot deliver what you want or need? What if their politics conflict with yours, they know it, and they refuse your purchases? You could be left holding a full wallet, with all the cash and credit cards stuffed in it, and nothing to buy.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

DNA Tests at Home

Michelle Crouch wrote in May 2019 about DNA home tests:

1.       It’s a statistical guess based on a company’s database and the method used. For this reason, as more people are added to the database, the guess percentages change.

2.       If you are European, the guess is more precise. The more people are in the database from your specific ancestral home, the more accurate the test. Results from southern and eastern Europe aren’t as accurate. (according to Hank Greely)

3.       Native Americans or Black Americans cannot be told specifically what ancestral tribes they came from.

4.       Genetic abnormalities cannot be predicted with a home DNA test (40% of the time they are wrong). Certified labs can give more conclusive results for higher fees.

5.       Genetic DNA home tests can affect one’s ability to get insurance. An insurance offering you long-term care and life insurance are allowed by law in most states to ask for your DNA test results. It is thus a good idea to postpone the DNA test until insurance has been purchased.

6.       Police and other agencies do use family tree DNA databases to solve crimes.

7.       A relative’s DNA could make an innocent person a suspect in a crime.

8.       Genetic information can be sold to third parties for profit.

9.       Genealogy websites can and were hacked – private information of users was released.

10.   Diets based on genetic testing do not help people lose weight.

11.   Personality traits can be correctly predicted with DNA tests.

12.   Athletic ability cannot be predicted with DNA tests despite the claims.

13.   Family secrets may be revealed through a DNA test.  One may find a half-sister, half-brother or some other inconvenient truth.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The National Museum of Civil War Medicine

Photo: Ileana Johnson 2019
Frederick, MD, a town settled in 1745, is the location of the two-story National Museum of Civil War Medicine. Following the Battles of South Mountain and Antietam, the city of Frederick became one vast hospital with hospital beds in schools, churches, hotels, and any public buildings suitable for use. A photo exists of the interior of the Evangelical Lutheran Church looking like a hospital ward filled with hospital beds.

The museum is important in so many ways because the Civil War was described as a “watershed” in the history of medicine in regards to medical school education, recruiting and enlisting of soldiers, camp life, treatments, drugs, evacuation of the wounded, field dressing stations, field hospitals, and pavilion hospitals.

American medicine prior to the Civil War struggled with the general idea that disease was caused by a bodily poison triggered by a nervous constriction of the small blood vessels. Doctors used sweating, bleeding, cupping, blistering of the skin, and drugs to induce vomiting in order to purge the poison from the body. Bleeding was even used to stop internal hemorrhaging or to fix wounds to the chest. 

Few really believed in sterilization to stop the spread of disease from patient to patient. The [Henry] Craig Microscope was sold as a novelty through the mail, a single-fused lens in a tube mounting. But few understood microorganisms and the spread of disease through contact.

Battlefield first aid kit

Surgeons treated the death wounds, the burning fevers, the wasted bodies, and the broken constitutions and understood the life-long effects of battle – the shattered limbs, the pain, and the life-long physical and mental handicaps.

Surgical instruments and tools

Medicine was not entirely primitive as many are inclined to believe. The soldiers did not just “bite the bullet” in order to withstand surgery. Chloroform and ether were used in low doses in approximately 95 percent of Civil War surgeries in order to render the wounded oblivious to pain. 

Battlefield medicine chest, Museum 

Medicines used to treat diseases or pain included quinine and substitutes, alcohol, mercury-based drugs, creosote, morphine, chloroform, iodine, ether, opium, patent medicines (developed locally, of questionable efficacy and full of alcohol, opium, and mercury), iron supplements, tinctures for pain relief, and homeopathic medicines. Sutlers would sell patent medicines to soldiers or they received them in home packages.

Medicines found in care packages from home

Morphine and opium were used as painkillers and quinine was used to combat malaria. A hospital drug chest on display contained 48 medical containers made of glass and porcelain which were full of different compounded drugs or mixtures used to treat various diseases. A surgeon’s complete operating kit with stainless steel tools was manufactured by “Hernstein & Son of New York,” contracted suppliers for the Union physicians.

Autenrieth medical wagon

In 1864 the Union Medical Board approved the Autenrieth medical wagon for field use. The earlier 1862 medical wagon was improved and the Autenrieth version was presented with “sliding shelves and drawers to hold medicines and supplies as well as a sliding flat work surface that could be pulled out when the wagon was opened.” It held about 77 different drugs and tinctures, hospital stores, 16 surgical instruments, various dressings, furniture, and bedding (blankets and covers). It was a vast improvement over the hospital drug chest with 48 medicines.

It was not uncommon for military surgeons to use their private amputation kits such as the surgical instruments manufactured by Edward F. Snyder of Philadelphia who produced instruments from 1841-1855.

Middleton Goldsmith experimented with bromine to treat hospital gangrene after a severe outbreak in Memphis in 1863. He discovered that the survival rate improved dramatically with the use of bromine. The U.S. Sanitary Commission endorsed the use of bromine immediately and cases diminished in the last years of the war.

Despite the general belief that doctors were simple butchers, the reality is that most Civil War surgeons went to medical school and were trained with an established doctor. They had to pass an exam to serve as a war surgeon. 

Wounds were quite severe due to the new rifle musket technology and the French Minié ball which made repairing the damage impossible due to time constraints and potential deadly infections. For this reason, three out of four surgeries performed were amputation which resulted in nearly half a million soldiers coming out of the Civil War disabled.

Surgeons were often spoken of as “sawbones” due to the large number of amputations performed. Soldiers often reached for their weapons when they saw a surgeon approach.  The damage done by the musket balls called Minié was so devastating that they had no choice but to amputate.

Not all broken limbs were amputated during the war. A fracture box was used to align the broken bones as well as various sizes and shapes of splints on display. 

The .58 caliber rifled musket used in the Civil War was different from the Revolutionary War musket. The cone-shaped bullet had a hollow grooved base that expanded and spun with full force when fired. The accuracy and velocity of these Minié lead bullets did more damage, shattered the bones into many splinters, destroyed the surrounding soft tissue, and the lead remained inside the body.  “Approximately 94 percent of all recorded injuries were caused by the new Minié ball. Seven out of ten injured soldiers were wounded in the arm or leg; two out of ten in the body; and one out of ten in the head or neck.”

Hospital cot - Museum

Orthopedic hospitals were established in the South starting in March 1865 where disabled soldiers were fitted with prosthetics – artificial hands, arms, legs, and cosmetic appliances for facial wounds. In the State of Mississippi, “One-third of the soldiers were killed or crippled during the War. In 1866 one-fifth of the state’s revenue was expended on artificial limbs and for amputees.” (from “God & General Longstreet” by Connelly & Belles)

Field hospitals were usually a barn or a tent, with the barn doors removed to serve as surgical tables. Casualties were triaged into three categories: mortally wounded (abdomen, chest, head), slightly wounded, and surgery candidates. 

Surgeon Z. Boylston Adams of the 32nd Massachusetts Infantry describes the battle: “The front was filled with the sulfurous odor of smoke. There was a constant rattle of musketry mixed with the blood curdling yells and shouts. Artillery shells were exploding in the treetops. Leaves and branches fell about … Minié balls could be heard thudding into the surrounding trees. And so, the field hospital went into operation.”

One famous Confederate surgeon was John Julian Chisolm from Charleston, S.C. “In April 1861, Chisolm treated Union soldiers wounded at Fort Sumter.” He worked during the war in the military hospitals in Richmond.

Mary Edwards Walker, a New York surgeon, received her medical degree from Syracuse Medical College in June 1855. She treated wounded soldiers after the battles of Manassas and Fredericksburg, Virginia. Most of her medical colleagues did not support her when she was assigned with the 52nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment in January 1864. On April 10, 1864 Walker was captured by Confederate troops, sent to prison in Richmond, and exchanged four months later for a Confederate officer. President Andrew Johnson awarded Walker the Congressional Medal of Honor for Meritorious Service in 1865.

According to the museum archives, prior to the Civil War, the U.S. Army had a 40-bed infirmary in Kansas. A hospital was a poor house where the poor went to die. However, by 1865 the Union Medical Department had 181,000 beds in 187 pavilion style hospitals and the Confederates had a similar number of beds to treat the wounded and the sick.

U.S. hospital railroad cars were retrofitted and used as early as August 1861 to transport the wounded from the battlefield to metropolitan hospital centers. Stretchers were suspended in railroad cars with vulcanized rubber rings in order to provide shock absorbers for a smoother ride and to be able to suspend more stretchers inside a car.

“River boats and later steamships were leased or purchased and refitted as hospital ships at first in the West and later in the East. The City of Memphis carried 11,024 sick and wounded in 33 trips up and down the Mississippi. The D.A. January transported and cared for 23,738 patients during the last 3 years of the war.” They were floating hospitals. 

Nursing care was provided at first by convalescent or non-combatant soldiers until such a time that they were able to return to their regiments. Since 1863 the Union Veteran Reserve Corps supplied nurses, clerks, ward masters, guards and cooks to the general hospital. A famous male nurse, L.A. Thorpe, head nurse at Foster Hospital in New Bern, NC, died of yellow fever in 1864. John C. Sinclair was nurse at Trinity Hospital in Washington, D.C. 

Museum Archives Photo

Walt Whitman visited hospitals in and around Washington, D.C. from December 1862 until December 1865, aiding the sick and wounded soldiers on both sides, talking to them, helping them write letters home, and bringing them small gifts of money, food, writing paper, and scarce items.

Civil War nurse - Museum photo

Slowly, the Catholic sisters and concerned female caregivers gained entrance into hospitals – they cooked, cleaned, bandaged wounds, reading and writing letters. Most “nurses” were anonymous but a few Southern women like Ella King Newsom, Sally Tompkins, Julie Opie Hopkins, and Northern women like Dorothea Dix and Clara Barton became recognized for their efforts. 

President Lincoln invited to the White House one famous nurse, Caroline Johnson, a former slave who nursed in Washington hospitals.

Black slaves built hospitals, cooked in hospital kitchens, and served as laundresses. Richmond, Virginia’s Chimborazo Hospital was built almost entirely by black labor. Often blacks were assigned the task of burying the dead. Three-quarters of the women who nursed at Chimborazo hospital in Virginia were black. “The use of black women in Northern hospital wards was not authorized until 1864.” 

“Susie King Taylor was the best known of the thousands of black Civil War nurses. Her memoir, Reminiscences of My Life in Camp, is the only surviving account of the Civil War experiences of a black nurse.”

Army chaplains assisted with surgeries and comforted the dying. “Of the approximately 165 regiments of the U.S. Colored Troops, only 14 had black chaplains.” Union Army regulations required that regimental officers elected chaplains.

“Mrs. D. H. Hastings, a hospital matron with the 30th U.S. Colored Troops is listed as non-commissioned officer on the regimental muster roll – an extremely rare honor for a woman.”

The Chimborazo hospital in Richmond was like a small city that could serve “more than 8,000 patients in 150 wards, a bakery that produced 10,000 loaves of bread a day, a 400 keg brewery, a newspaper, five ice houses, a soap factory, cultivated fields, and a large herd of livestock.”

Benevolent societies raised money and donated to the U.S. Sanitary Commission for soldiers’ relief - $70 million in four years through contributions from every state and territory in the Union including almost $18,000 from the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii). In 1861 the U.S. Christian Commission came up with the idea of “coffee wagons” in camp to compete with the “liquor sellers,” the sutlers.

Hospitals provided bands for the entertainment of the wounded, held lectures, concerts, and theatrical performances in addition to medical care. 

One of the Civil War doctors, Lewis Henry Steiner (1827-1892), was a fifth generation of the Steiner family to reside in Frederick, MD. He earned his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1849. Dr. Steiner was an inspector for the U.S. Sanitary Commission and was present when the Confederate troops entered Frederick. He remained there until the Union troops arrived. He described the Confederate troops on September 8, 1862:

“How the rebels manage to get along no one can tell. They are badly clad. Many of them without shoes. Uncleanliness and vermin are universal. The odor of clothes worn for months, saturated with perspiration and dirt, is intense and all-pervading. They look stout and sturdy, able to endure fatigue, and anxious to fight in the cause they have espoused.”

The Union Army of the Potomac counted 1500 days of service but only 45 were spent in battle. The rest of the time they fought diseases of the camp caused by contaminated water supply, refuse and excrement from humans and animals, fleas, lice, and flies which carried bacteria and viruses to the soldiers and their rations. “Of the nearly 620,000 soldiers who died during the Civil War, two-thirds died of disease and only one third died of wounds,” diarrhea being the number one killer. 

Civil War stretcher 

The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion reported 44,558 deaths in the Union Army attributed to diarrhea and dysentery,” the deadliest diseases of the Civil War. Other killer diseases were: erysipelas (streptococcus pyogenes infection at the wound site), hospital gangrene (streptococcal flesh infection which also spreads through contact to nurse, other patients, and doctor), malaria (from mosquito bites), measles, rheumatism (actually RA or “reactive arthritis with joint swelling from rheumatic fever, venereal infections, intestinal disease, dysentery), smallpox, STDs (syphilis and gonorrhea, 182,800 cases among Union troops), typhoid fever (caused by bacterium Salmonella typhi), typhus (bacterium Rickettsia), tuberculosis (bacterial infection known as consumption), and scrofula (tuberculosis of the lymph nodes of the neck). “For some reason, black troops were five times more likely to contract the scrofula.”

According to the Museum, the 65th U.S. Colored Troops (U.S.C.T.) had the most deaths from disease (755) of all Union regiments. The 49th U.S.C.T. lost 465 men to disease compared to 62 killed in action. Ten thousand black sailors served in the Union Navy and 179,000 black soldiers enlisted in the Union Army.

As ghastly as the Civil War was, forcing brother to fight against brother, in the end, a lot of the measures developed to deal with casualties of war became the basis for modern military medicine. For example, the ambulance system developed by Jonathan Letterman is still part of the present-day military evacuation plans.

Medical personnel, just like today, treated the wounded from both sides of the war. A field dressing station, the precursor of our modern first responders, bandaged wounds and administered whiskey for shock and morphine for pain.

Triage was first developed during the Civil War in order to set priorities for treatment of the wounded based on the severity of the injury.

The Civil War used embalming to send home soldiers killed in battle. It was a chemical process that had not been used prior to the Civil War.

The physical and mental impact of 60,000 amputees forced the reunited country to deal with the casualties and establish mental hospitals and care for the veterans.

The condition first diagnosed as nostalgia and irritable heart during the Civil War, shell shock during WWI, became PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) today.

Apothecary wagons developed during the Civil War to ensure medication was available to soldiers for treatment.

Water and sewer systems used in pavilion hospitals during the Civil War paved the way for our modern hospitals. Wards were self-contained to minimize the spread of disease.

Modern military medicine has roots in these advancements made during the Civil War and in turn, civilians today benefit from continuing medical developments made in military medicine.

In 1863, the first veterans’ organizations were established in both the North (Grand Army of the Republic) and the South (United Confederate Veterans), with the goal to care for veterans, honor the dead, preserve friendships of those who survived, honor the dead, and provide for widows and orphans.

Soldiers were not the only enlisted in the fight, horses and mules were unwilling beasts of burden and victims in the war. Every cannon and its attached limber (two-wheeled ammunition chest) was pulled by six horses. Six-horse teams also pulled each of the six four-wheeled caissons that carried additional ammunition. An artillery battery consisted of six guns which means that 72 horses were necessary to move the battery. Additional horses were necessary to pull the forge, carry the officers, and be replacements. 

The Army of the Potomac used in 1864 more than 4,000 six-mule team wagons in the Wilderness Campaign, with a total of 56,499 horses and mules that moved the war machine. Veterinary surgeons tended to the animal injuries and tried to maintain the health of their charges. “Large infirmaries were developed to treat horses and mules which were too sick or worn-down to serve the armies.”

A soldier spent most of his day in camp or marching rather than in battle. Marching means that they had to carry extra clothing, personal hygiene items, blankets, tin utensils, a “soldier’s housewife” (items necessary to mend clothing and darning socks:  scissors, needles, thread, patches, pins, buttons, and yarn), items from home, and their weapons. And some also carried items such as pressed flowers, homemade identification tags, business cards (carte de visite), the New Testament, the Book of Common Prayer, and the daguerreotype photo of a loved one.

Most soldiers marched 13 miles daily, carrying 30-50 lbs. of equipment, and such strenuous outlay of energy caused many health problems:  “dehydration, malnutrition, hypothermia, sunstroke, headaches, nerve damage, bone spurs, bone degeneration, muscle soreness and tearing, torn or early loss of cartilage in knees and hips, leaking fluid sacks in knees, joint and back pain, blisters, bruises, lacerations, infections, and chronic cough.”

“War is an organized bore,” one said. But Private Wilbur Fisk of 2nd Vermont wrote, “If a man wants to know what it is to have every bone in his body to ache with fatigue, every muscle sore and exhausted, and his whole body ready to sink to the ground, let him … shoulder his knapsack, haversack, gun and equipment, and make one of our forced marches, and I will warrant him to be satisfied that the duties of war are stern and severe.”

Food focused on “hard-tack” (a hard wheat flour cracker) and salt-cured pork.  Fresh meat and vegetables were issued sometimes in camp and canned food, meat and seafood. Confederate letters describe meals of canned food captured from Union supply trains.  The deficient diet caused major nutritional diseases such as scurvy (vitamin C), night blindness (vitamin A) and malnutrition. There were 46,000 cases of scurvy in Union records.

Coffee, tea, birch beer, and sarsaparilla were available.  The soldier had to grind the beans included in their rations in order to make coffee. Alcohol was not allowed in camp, but officers were not restricted. Sutlers made alcohol available to anyone though just outside the camp.

Tallow and lard were used to make candles for illumination. The “Betty Lamp,” a simple pot filled with oil and a wick, provided light at night. Soldiers entertained themselves in camp with cards, dice, and playing baseball. 

After the bombardment at Fort Sumter in Charleston, S.C. in April 1861, President Lincoln called for 75,000 ninety-day volunteers to squash the rebellion. Companies were organized with 100 volunteers; ten companies formed a regiment; the volunteers chose officers, one regimental surgeon, and two assistant surgeons. 

Johnny Clem, Museum photo
The average volunteer soldier was 25 years old, but Curtis King of 37th Iowa Infantry was 80 years old. Boys younger than 18 served as musicians, stretcher-bearers, nurses, ships boys, and even soldiers. Avery Brown of the 31st Ohio Infantry and Edward Black of the 21st Indian Infantry were 8 years old. At the age of 10, Johnny Clem ran away from home and became a drummer in the Union Army. He enlisted at 12, fought in several battles, was captured and briefly jailed by Confederate soldiers.

Women served in the Civil War, with a documented number of over 300 Union and Confederate females serving disguised as men. This happened because physical examination was often superficial or nonexistent in the rush to gain more recruits for the war. Many joined the army already seriously sick with bronchitis, fevers, TB, STDs, etc.

Soldier’s clothing was made of rough-hewn wool in the North and a mixture of cotton, linen, and wool in the South. The material was itchy and of poor quality and did not last long. Soldiers wore softer underwear to prevent itching. When uniforms wore out, they put on civilian shirts and clothes, even in battle. Shoes did not last long due to long marches.

The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion recorded the staggering numbers of enlistment and the final tally of combatants who were killed, injured, and died from their wounds and disease:

Union Army Enlistment 2,893,304                                   Confederate Army Enlistment 1,317,035
Battlefield deaths               110,070                                   Battlefield deaths                          94,000
Death from Disease            224,586                                  Death from Disease                     164,000       
Death from Accidents in the Union Army        24,872 (suicides were also included in this number)

A high percentage of soldiers on both sides died from gunshot wounds (94%). Artillery fire killed 5.5% of them and 0.4% of men perished from sabre or bayonet. 

The final death toll percentage of soldiers fighting their own countrymen in the Civil War was 12.4% (Union) and 19.6% (Confederates). 

The museum was a somber place to reflect on our country’s history forgotten by so many.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Mimi Johnson's Essay on the 30-Year Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Photo: Ileana Johnson 2016
In other news around the globe, today marks thirty years since the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. I remember Peter Jennings reporting it on ABC news. I was in 4th grade and had a different understanding than most American children. You see, my mother and grandmother fled a third world communist country and even at a young age, I understood the significance of this wall coming down, uniting broken families and overthrowing a systematic, oppressive government.

Next month, it’ll be thirty years since Romania gained its independence from communist dictator Ceaușescu. The people and militia rose up against 50 years of starvation, lack of water, medicine, jobs, fear for their lives, women being taken against their will by the communist police and raped, having no clothes, shoes, standing in line for bread, milk, being rationed everything and having no free choice of anything; they finally had the courage to say ENOUGH, yet after all that, I cannot believe the global sentiments.

It’s amazing to me, how quickly we forget the pain and suffering millions of people endured and how hard they fought to eradicate totalitarian regime out of their lives. Yet here we are, at the end of 2019, and there has been a massive global wave wanting to bring back this horrific and failed system of government citing “justice for all.” The apropos motto would be “justice for none.”

I wish society viewed communism in the same vein that they view other atrocities, such as slavery and the holocaust; history must not repeat itself. My friends, think hard before you champion something like this coming to our shores. I implore you to talk with people who have experienced horrific tragedies and escaped to tell the story. There are many proud immigrants in this country that are seriously frightened about their existence here in their new chosen home land. Not because they will be deported, but that their haunting history will follow them here, feeling as if they could never escape the proverbial prisons in which they lived.

The U.S. is at a major crossroads and it’s evident every single day. The communist ideology has already snuck in. I watch video after video of people being beaten and spit on for their political beliefs, or losing friendships over opinions, no tolerance for anything that is different from their wavering thoughts. We have become a society of carnivorous animals waiting to pounce on innocent, unsuspecting prey. The offense monster is terrorizing a city near you. No one is civilized anymore.

We now have natural segregation occurring, yet still complain about race relations. If a member of one race attempts to ingratiate themselves into another, there’s an uproar! How dare you! The U.S. has gone beyond being a nation of multiculturalism, more over putting everyone into groups and not assimilating to our inherent value system that makes this nation so appealing to the masses. True multiculturalism is bringing the best things from your country and melding them with others, not segregating yourselves in cities where no one unlike you is allowed.

Our freedoms are disappearing under our noses, yet no one seems to care. Instead we idolize political leaders and follow them like rats to the pied piper. Political figures aren’t deities, yet we expect them to be. This is serious and dangerous behavior and thought.

Even terms like “open-mindedness” have become an oxymoron because the caveat is that you’re only open-minded if you think “this” or “my” way. We the people are responsible for our societal demise, not politicians. The inherent truth is that we are a melting pot of religions and ideologies, however, one message that resonates loudly in most religions is to love thy neighbor and do good unto others.

Let’s get back to that original premise.

My Musings on Bolshevik Confiscation

Holodomor genocide
When the Bolsheviks started coming around the farms in Romania, the farmers met them with suspicion and refused to listen to Russian agents who spoke marginal Romanian.  Some fell for the ruse and the empty promises of socialism. Those who did not were eventually shot in front of the village as an effective terror tactic and their priests, who often preached against the Bolsheviks, were thrown from the church tower and killed, again in front of the entire village for maximum effect of brutality.

The city people did not have much to lose, of course, as you know, there were sweat shops everywhere and the lure of getting something for nothing, of getting even with the rich and stealing their stuff was too much for such poor and famished people. They fell for Bolshevism quite quickly. By the time they realized that the Bolsheviks had no intention of dividing what they stole but kept it for themselves, it was too late - guns had been confiscated, land, personal property, etc., and villagers had been moved by force into grey concrete block apartments in the city, built quickly and unsafely to house as many of them as possible.

The more prominent useful idiots such as journalists, doctors, engineers, teachers, professors, and other boot-licking lackeys had been killed too in order to frighten into compliance what was left of them so that they would become good little socialists and then communists if the communist party agreed to take them in.

My grandfather had buried a small tractor in his back yard but the neighbors told the Bolsheviks and they dug it up. They stole even his mantel clock so he could not tell time. The smirking Russian hanged it around his neck with a thick farm chain.

The Bolsheviks slaughtered his cow, the pig, the chickens, and all other domesticated animals that could have made a meal for the angry Russian soldiers who were the "liberators" at the end of WWII. They took the family jewels and all the money.

During WWII, the Germans had been garrisoned at the edge of the village (Romania was allied with Germany in World War II, Ploiesti had rich oil reserves and several refineries to process it into gasoline) and they seldom took anything from a farmer without asking and without just compensation.

I have no sympathy for the Nazis and their evil war machine and empire, but their doctors took care of the village sick according to my grandfather. One skilled surgeon stitched the face of mom's best friend (10 years old), who had been bitten by a horse that had ripped her entire right cheek off. There was no cost to the family and minimum scarring. In other words, the Russian soldiers and the Bolsheviks that followed in their footsteps were worse than the German soldiers during WWII and at the end of the war.

Hitler conquered his people through total bribery at first. When he took over the Social Democrat Party, they had a little over three dollars in their treasury and argued whether they should spend it to buy a rubber stamp or save it; the Weimar Republic was a total disaster and people were suffering economically. How hard was it for him to promise economic reforms and a better standard of living and actually delivering on those promises? He was a charismatic speaker and he became a "Gott" overnight. He promised a Volkswagen for every family. Germany prospered under his rule but then he showed his real face and started demonizing certain groups of people, confiscated their businesses and wealth, invented the faux superior race, and the rest is history.

You already know what Stalin did to his people and the deliberate starvation of millions of Ukrainian farmers at Holodomor in 1932-1933..