1832 : Cholera Strikes Down Gen. Winfield Scott’s Army, Forced To Land at Fort Gratiot, Michigan

July 8, 2018 all-day

The Asiatic cholera was the enemy, the conqueror of conquerors, which attacked [General Winfield] Scott’s expedition up the lakes, and soon destroyed all its power or utility as a military corps…

Scott had, as we have said, embarked at Buffalo for Chicago, in the beginning of July, with nearly a thousand men, in four steamboats. On the 8th of July, while on the bosom of the lake, the cholera broke out among the troops with great fatality…

The troops were landed near Fort Gratiot, at the lower end of Lake Huron, in the neighborhood of which they in a few days met with most extraordinary sufferings. We have before us two accounts of the scenes there, and both authentic statements of actual witnesses.

Scott’s army never made it past Chicago, never fought a single battle, and yet suffered the most American casualties of the Black Hawk War. Packed onto crowded, unsanitary river boats, cholera spread through his regiments like wildfire. By the time the troops reached Michigan Territorry, several of the boats were quarantined, and hundreds of Scott’s troops died or fled for their lives.

By the time Scott finally reached Gen. Atkinson on August 3, Black Hawk had been defeated and more than half of Scott’s reinforcements had died or deserted without ever firing a shot.

Source : July 8, Fort Gratiot, Mich.: Cholera Strikes Down Gen. Winfield Scott’s Army, Historic Diaries: Black Hawk War, Wisconsin Historical Society.

[Source: Mansfield, Edward D.; Scott, Winfield, Life and Services of General Winfield Scott, Including the Siege of Vera Cruz, the Battle of Cerro Gordo, and the Battles in the Valley of Mexico, to the Conclusion of Peace, and His Return to the United States (New York: A.S. Barnes and Co. 1852): p. 205.]

Leave a Reply