Causes of Death at Camp Sumter

The register of prisoners who died at the Andersonville Prison included a great deal of information on each individual who perished: name, rank, unit, date of death and cause of death.

For the modern reader, the causes of death can prove to be mystifying, as they contain Nineteenth Century medical terms reflecting scientific knowledge of the era.

Below are the documented causes of death of prisoners held at Camp Sumter, along with definitions.

 

Abscess - Swollen, inflamed area in body tissues with localized collection of pus.
Number of deaths: 1

Anasarca - Abnormal accumulation of fluid in tissues and cavities of the body, resulting in swelling. Also known as dropsy.
Number of deaths: 406

Ascites - Accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity.
Number of deaths: 4

Asphyxia - Loss of consciousness due to suffocation; inadequate oxygen, and too much carbon dioxide.
Number of deaths: 1

Catarrh - Inflammation of mucus membranes of nose and throat causing increased flow of mucus. (Common cold).
Number of deaths: 32

Constipation - Condition in which feces are hard and elimination is infrequent and difficult.
Number of deaths: 8

Diarrhea - Frequent, loose bowel movements. Symptoms of other diseases.
Number of deaths: 5,492

Diphtheria - Acute, highly contagious disease. Characterized by abdominal pain and intense diarrhea.
Number of deaths: 6

Dysentery - Various intestinal inflammations characterized by abdominal pain and intense diarrhea.
Number of deaths: 1,305

Enteritis - Inflammation of intestines.
Number of deaths: 27

Erysipelas - Acute infectious disease of skin or mucus membranes. Characterized by local inflammation and fever.
Number of deaths: 27

Gastritis - Inflammation of stomach.

Hemorrhoids - Painful swelling of vein in region of the anus, often with bleeding.
Number of deaths: 1

Hepatitis - Inflammation of liver, often accompanied by fever and jaundice.
Number of deaths: 2

Hydrocele - Accumulation of fluid in the scrotum.
Number of deaths: 1

Icterus - Characterized by yellowish skin, eyes, and urine. Also known as jaundice.
Number of deaths: 3

Laryngitis - Inflammation of the larynx.
Number of deaths: 2

Nephritis - Acute or chronic disease of kidneys, characterized by inflammation and degeneration.
Number of deaths: 4

Pleurisy - Inflammation of membranes covering lungs and lining of chest cavity. Characterized by difficult and painful breathing. Also known as pleuritis.
Number of deaths: 60

Rubeola - Measles.
Number of deaths: 6

Scurvy - Disease resulting from deficiency of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), which is found in fresh fruits and vegetables. Characterized by weakness, spongy gums, and bleeding from mucus membranes. Also known as scorbutus.
Number of deaths: 3,661

Smallpox - Acute, highly contagious disease. Characterized by prolonged fever, vomiting, and pustular skin eruptions.
Number of deaths: 63

Tonsillitis - Inflammation of tonsils.
Number of deaths: 1

Typhoid - Acute infections disease, characterized by fever and diarrhea.
Number of deaths: 23

Ulcus - Ulcer.
Number of deaths: 10

Last updated: February 28, 2022

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