Posted by: TC Maurice | January 27, 2018

Meeting Announcement

When: February 14th 2017

Where: La Navona, 154 North Hamilton Road. Gahanna Ohio 43230

Time: 7pm

Speaker: Mark Laubacher

Topic: Weapons of Mass Destruction Considered during the Civil War.

In an effort to bring about resolution to the Civil War, creative suggestions and research was offered by individuals, many of whom were civilians.  Several of such suggestions involved the use of chemical and biological agents as unconventional weapons by both Confederate and Union forces against their adversaries.

The Confederacy considered weaponizing numerous chemicals and biological agents. A Southern civilian offered a detailed plan to take Fort Pickens by the deployment of a poison gas from a balloon.  Another suggested using red pepper and veratria, or hydrocyanic acid and arseniuretted hydrogen in artillery shells.  To combat a tunneling operation by Union forces, Confederate troops created fuse activated sulfur smoke cartridges. Chinese stink balls were considered as an adjunct to break the siege of Petersburg. Chloroform was to be used in a plan to thwart USS Monitor. A plot to sell smallpox contaminated clothing to Union forces was devised by a Southern sympathizer. A high ranking Confederate surgeon suggested the use of potassium cyanide and hydrochloric acid in artillery shells.  A medical doctor from Kentucky schemed to contaminate the New York water supply with strychnine, arsenic, and prussic acid.  This same physician executed a plan to infect the population of major Northern cities and President Lincoln with yellow fever.

The Union also researched and discussed uses of chemicals on Rebel troops. A New York City schoolteacher thoroughly researched a chlorine ordinance to be contained in an artillery shell. Another idea was to fill a hand-pump fire engine with chloroform for dispersal on troops. A captain proposed using a cacodyl glass grenade for ship-to-ship fighting.  The grenade would also have contained arsenious acid.  In a letter to President Abraham Lincoln, a professor envisioned the combination of hydrochloric and sulfuric acids on Confederate lines.  There were over 1500 different schemes, suggested by Northern citizens, for disposing of CSS Virginia (Merrimack), including a plot to poison the crew. A Wisconsin citizen wrote to the governor, and suggested using kites to drop red pepper over Confederate camps.

With the exception of the yellow fever scheme, weapons of mass destruction were not sortied as neither President Lincoln nor President Davis gave authorization, as both disapproved of unconventional warfare.  Both feared the negative propaganda, the infuriation of the citizens, and reprisals from irregular warfare.  As a result, on April 24, 1863, President Lincoln issued General Order No. 100, which prohibited the use of poison in any manner.  This presentation, complete with photos and descriptions, will discuss and illustrate the chemical and biological poisons considered by both militaries during the War Between the States.  It is imperative that history shows that such weapons of mass destruction were considered, but not utilized.

Objectives:

List three chemicals considered to be used as a weapon by Union or Confederate forces during the US Civil War.

Name the disease involving a plot to infect citizens of major Northern cities and President Lincoln.

State two explanations mass destruction weapons during the US Civil War were not utilized

Mark Laubacher is a RN and paramedic working as a Certified Specialist in Poisonlaubacher Information since 1992 at the Central Ohio Poison Center located at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio.  Prior to this, he was a full time staff nurse at Children’s Emergency Department for 4 years.  He received his Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Capital University in 1989.  He is also currently a faculty member for Grant Medical Center Paramedic Program in Columbus, Ohio.  Having delivered over 500 presentations, he routinely presents at the state and national levels on various topics of toxicological emergencies.

A student of US Civil War history, Mark presented a paper on snake bites to Union and Confederate soldiers at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine Conference in 2013.  He did the same at the Society of Civil War Surgeons Conference in May 2014.  A review of unconventional weapons that were considered during the Civil War was given in New Orleans in September 2014 to the North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology. He is active member of the following: 1st Ohio Light Artillery Battery A, Central Ohio Civil War Roundtable, Society of Civil War Surgeons, National Museum of Civil War Medicine, and Society of Civil War Historians.  His publications include:

Laubacher, Mark. “Snake Bit–Perpetuated Error: No Snake Bites to Civil War Soldiers.” Blue & Gray Magazine 30, no. 5 (July 2014): 45-52.

Laubacher, Mark. “The First Medical Man aboard USS Monitor,” Journal of Civil War Medicine 19, no. 2 (April/May/June 2015): 60-71.

February Presidents Message

 

 

 

 

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