Luke Blackburn

appears to have done something downright interesting: send vomit-soaked clothes, from people that had died of yellow fever, to various locations in the North during the Civil War, with the intent of triggering yellow fever epidemics. Didn’t work, since as far as we know, yellow fever can only be transmitted via mosquito bite, mainly Aedes aegypti. 

Jeff Davis knew about this effort.



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46 Responses to Luke Blackburn

  1. protokol2020 says:

    In other words: The Geneva ban for biochem weapons isn’t that solid, at all. May give up any day in a bigger war.

  2. dearieme says:

    I dare say history is full of attempted bio-warfare ruses that failed.

    It must also contain some that worked but that are unknown to historians.

    Murky stuff, history – full of unknowns, misunderstandings, and downright lies.

    • syonredux says:

      Along those lines, there’s the much-discussed attempt by the British to use smallpox against rebellious Amerinds in 1763. Although the attempt was made (handkerchiefs and blankets that had been used by smallpox victims were given as gifts to some Amerinds), no one knows if it actually worked. For one thing, cloth is not the best best vector for transmitting smallpox (person-to-person contact is better*).Then there’s the fact that a smallpox epidemic was already in progress (hence, why the Brits had contaminated articles at hand), which makes determining the route of transmission rather difficult (Did this Amerind contract smallpox via the contaminated cloth or because he came into contact with the pre-existing epidemic?)

      *As evidenced by the fact that the Amerind who received the gifts apparently did not contract smallpox.

      • It was a hateful thing to do. However, it was not that different from the many other hateful things all sides have done in war until recently, when a few groups have elected not to do some of the bad things anymore.

        The great question in accusing our ancestors of anything is “Compared to whom?”

        • NonLinear9 says:

          Indeed. The Amerinds were themselves eager practitioners of highly creative forms of torture and mutilation. The Spanish conquest of Mexico was horrible but an Aztec conquest of Spain would likely have been even worse.

          History records few saints. Mostly just humans, and we all know what they’re like.

        • gcochran9 says:

          Generally speaking, the Civil War was fought in a way that was more gentlemanly than perhaps any war I’m familiar with.

          • syonredux says:

            “Generally speaking, the Civil War was fought in a way that was more gentlemanly than perhaps any war I’m familiar with.”

            Yeah, most of the nasty incidents were quite small scale (compare the sacking of Lawrence, Kansas by Quantrill to, say, stuff like the War in the Vendée). Even Sherman’s March to the Sea looks almost Quaker-ish when you compare it to what the Spanish did in Cuba.

            • mtkennedy21 says:

              Not Andersonville, though. That was pretty bad.

              • syonredux says:

                “Not Andersonville, though. That was pretty bad.”

                by US Civil War standards, that was pretty bad….But when you compare it to the concentration camps used by the Spanish in Cuba in the 1890s (General Weyler’s “Reconcentracion Policy”), it’s small potatoes….

          • NonLinear9 says:

            That’s true — the civil war is a startling outlier in that regard, a thing for which I’ve never heard a satisfying explanation . . . a single civilian casualty of the Battle of Gettysburg (and probably a very low overall civilian-to-military death ratio), incredibly lenient treatment and reintegration of the defeated rebels, etc.

            So yeah, the incident is unusual for that war, even though not for human history generally.

          • Lot says:

            The war between William the Conquerer’s sons:

            “Prince Henry, disgusted, that so little care had been taken of his interests in this accommodation, retired to St. Michael’s Mount, a strong fortress on the coast of Normandy, and infested the neighbourhood with his incursions. Robert and William with their joint forces besieged him in this place, and had nearly reduced him by the scarcity of water; when the elder, hearing of his distress, granted him permission to supply himself, and also sent him some pipes of wine for his own table. Being reproved by William for this ill-timed generosity, he replied, What, shall I suffer my brother to die of thirst? Where shall we find another, when he is gone?”

          • Lot says:

            It isn’t rare for commanders in war treat the opposing generals with courtesy and hospitality. I don’t know how gentlemanly the regular soldiers were treated when captured in the US Civil War. No gratuitous torture, but plenty of deadly neglect and deprivation.

            Caesar’s conquest of Gaul and civil war were probably the gentlest major wars in ancient times. Mostly no sacking of captured cities and ample pardons toward the losers. When he defeated one Gaulish tribe, his goal was to obtain their alliance against the next one, not loot and enslave them.

            • gcochran9 says:

              You could be more wrong but you’d have to work pretty hard at it. Caesar enslaved something like a million Gauls.

            • dearieme says:

              The conquest of Gaul was a genocide.

              “I don’t know how gentlemanly the regular soldiers were treated when captured in the US Civil War”: if you we’re captured by the Confederates and were a black soldier you might well be murdered. In fact, if you were a white Union supporter from a Confederate state your chances weren’t too good.

              Anecdotes are one thing: whether anyone has worthwhile numbers I don’t know. The more intelligent sort of murderer of prisoners might have the sense not to boast about it.

              • syonredux says:

                dearieme:”Anecdotes are one thing: whether anyone has worthwhile numbers I don’t know.”

                The numbers for nasty incidents (E.g., massacre of Black Union troops at Fort Pillow, Quantrill’s attack on Lawrence, prisoner deaths at Andersonville, et) are known, and, by the standards of the 18th-19th centuries, it’s not bad.

      • But then, germ theory of diseases was not universally accepted?

        • Rich Rostrom says:

          The cause of infectious disease was not known, but the idea of contagion was well established. The practice of inoculation (deliberate infection with smallpox to confer later immunity) was well known. The confinement or shunning of lepers to avoid infection dated back to the Bronze Age. In the 1300s, travelers coming to Venice from areas known to be affected by the bubonic plague were isolated for forty days (quarantina) to insure they were not contagious.

          • mtkennedy21 says:

            Lister published his paper in Lancet about antisepsis in 1867. Too late for the Civil War. John Snow and Florence Nightingale had published evidence of infectious causes of diseases but had no evidence other than statistics

  3. Kilo 4/11 says:

    Dr. Cochran, this post reminds me of one you put up a few years ago, regarding the possibility of the USSR setting loose some sort of disease – I forget the name – on the advancing Germans. Has any more information come to light on that?

      • David Chamberlin says:

        Fascinating westhunt posts.

        Tularemia isn’t spread very easily and the cases that are diagnosed are far and few between, especially when it is lung borne. But oddly at one place at one point in time a quarter of a million people came down with it, Stalingrad 1942. That is enough proof for me that Solviet crop dusters spread it over the front.

        As far as further proof, mums the word. It is best not to give wackos any more ideas than they already have about how to perform mass killings.

        • Lot says:

          Agree, very interesting posts. I enjoyed re-reading them and then the WebMD summary of tularemia.

          • David Chamberlin says:

            Proof is in the infection rate of tularemia in every other circumstance and how completely out of line it is with Stalingrad 1942. The truth has been actively censored, but now that tularemia is easily cured through common antibiotics it seems silly for further repression.

            however…..let’s keep crazy assholes off the line of thinking how maximum harm can be done through spread of disease because honestly…. there are opportunities.

    • Philip Neal says:

      This is probably well known, but I recently read in Richard Evans, The Third Reich at War that the Germans, retreating up the Italian peninsula in 1943-44, reflooded the Pontine Marshes and introduced Anopheles labranchiae, a species of mosquito deliberately chosen as the vector of malaria, in a successful attempt to spread the disease.

  4. glenndc says:

    Re “Civil” war… It was Us against Us

    • syonredux says:

      Yeah, but many other Civil Wars were quite nasty and bloodthirsty: The Mexican Revolution, The Spanish Civil War, the War in the Vendée, etc

      Compared to those, the US Civil War was exceptionally “clean.”

  5. Frau Katze says:

    OT: Any knowledge of a new book “Superior: The Return of Race Science?” by Angela Saini. Review by Steve Sailer here.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Might review it. Is there popular demand?

      • Frau Katze says:

        I’d be interested. How much do you need to make it worth your while?

        I’m on the verge of ordering it just based on Steve Sailer’s review.

        I don’t want to ramble but it seems the zeitgeist on this may be shifting (for the worse). I’ve been following several people on Youtube for about a year or two.

        With the text blogs, each is its own world. (Although WordPress has shut down at least one person, details below),

        With Youtube, changes to policy affects everyone. These platforms (Facebook & Twitter included) are becoming ever more censorious. This is concerning people even though I’m not following anyone that’s discussing HBD. The censors are worried about the most ridiculous things. They’re arbitrary and often don’t give explanations.

        Just yesterday, a whole new wave swept over Youtube owing to a spat between one individual on Youtube (Steven Crowder, never watched him) and one activist / reporter at Vox, named Carlos Maza.

        Youtube issued a whole new set of rules for the entire site based on this one particular spat. It’s very strange. They don’t seem to have taken down vids so much as “demonetized” channels, so the person receives no advertising revenue.

        Of course several of my regulars were demonetized in earlier sweeps. They then depend on viewer contributions.

        Even that’s a fraught area. There is a program called Patreon, that will gather donations from people on a monthly basis and forward it. But several months ago, one well known Youtuber was unceremoniously dumped from Patreon.

        There are an army of these activists (some claiming to be reporters) that are at work with no other goal than to get what they consider to dangerous people shut down, and they’re going about it any way they can.

        Chateau Heartiste was dumped from WordPress a few weeks ago (I’m told the content had deteriorated, but a number of irate followers were at Lion of the Blogosphere complaining.). He was not self-hosting, making him vulnerable. I notice you’re not self hosting either (you can run a blog on a server of your choice using WordPress, a safer alternative).

        I don’t go to Steve’s much these days. I’ve shifted to Lion, who has a fairly good crowd. I’ve abandoned Steve Sailer because he tolerates anti-Semitic comments.

        I also do a volunteer daily spot for a politically conservative Canadian blog, Blazing Cat Fur.

        Hey, I’m retired and I’ll spend my retirement as I wish.

        • David Chamberlin says:

          The really interesting HBD analytics will always be repressed simply because there is so much overlap with the message of hateful assholes who believe in a comic book simple world. It’s a shame. I don’t think things are getting worse or better when it comes to mainstream HBD discussion, it just is what it is.

          However there will always be interesting side stories that address the amazing history of the last century or so where certain economies which just so happen to always have superior IQ scores rocket to the top of the world stage in economic prosperity when given the opportunity to do so. Watch some of Stephen Kotkin’s Youtube lectures here

          It’s just a big game. If we avoid the catch words and phrases of the HBD world but shift to the recent geopolitical history of the world leaving the reader to connect the dots as to why some countries with X makeup prosper while other countries with Y makeup continue to stagnate then we can make out point without poking the bear.

          • Frau Katze says:

            I still think the activists may get worse. I forgot to mention that I do know of one Youtuber who discusses HBD. Jean-François Gariépy. He was accused of accused of trying to seduce or start a relationship with a young autistic woman. He admitted the existence of said woman but claimed she was capable of deciding on her own. Someone, maybe her parents, intervened, He was never charged with a crime AFAIK.

            I stopped following him. He put me off in general. He was demonetized in the sweep just now. His videos are still there. In one from a few days he talking about some other woman.

            Youtube must have had him on some list. The demonetizations were done overnight.

          • Frau Katze says:

            I’ll check out Kotkin.

      • Frau Katze says:

        I read the reviews at Amazon and they’re pretty bad. I don’t think it’s worth reviewing.

  6. Spencer says:

    Dems play hardball.

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