Dr. Jerry M. Foster: The Leading Cause of Death in the Civil War

Dr. Jerry M. Foster is a resident expert on Civil War medical history.  A Tennessee Board Certified doctor of Internal Medicine and Oncology, Dr. Jerry M. Foster has also spent numerous years studying Civil War history.

“Approximately 60% of Union soldiers deaths were due to disease,” says Dr. Jerry M. Foster.  He says that 66% of Confederate soldier deaths were related to disease.  “When you think about it, the perfect setup for illness was created for both sides during this War Between the States,” states Dr. Jerry M. Foster.  With the lack of nutrition, exposure to communicable diseases and poor sanitation, these harsh conditions made a perfect environment for diseases, points out Dr. Foster.

During the War Between the States, there were five top-reported diseases.  “Acute and chronic diarrhea, acute dysentery, typhoid and typho-malarial were among the top reported,” states Dr. Foster.  Any one of these diseases, within itself, is devastating –  “particularly at that time of history,” adds Dr. Jerry M. Foster.  It often comes as a surprise to some, says Dr. Jerry M. Foster, when they learn that disease, not weapons, was the great killer of the Civil War.

And yet from this devastation caused by disease came improvements in how we handle certain issues, notes Dr. Jerry M. Foster.  “These diseases and their ramifications led to improved methods of sanitation,” says Dr. Foster.  “There were major advances in nutrition that would play vital roles down the road,” adds Dr. Foster, noting another interesting thing came about from the rampant disease as well.  “Troops preparing for battle became hardened even before leaving to enter the field.”

Dr. Jerry M. Foster is a 1971 graduate of North Carolina State University.  Completing his doctoral program through Duke University and Vanderbilt University, Dr. Jerry M. Foster attended the London University School of Medicine.  Dr. Jerry M. Foster lives and works in Franklin, Tennessee where he resides with his wife and children.

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