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Smallpox Island

The documentary series “The Civil War- St. Louis” will take a look at what it was like to live in a Union-controlled city located in a state with Confederate leanings. In the mid-1800’s Missouri was populated by states’ rights supporters who supported slavery, as well as abolitionist German immigrants. The 12-part series explores places in and around St. Louis where Civil War events unfolded.

In the winter of 1862, a serious epidemic of smallpox broke-out among Confederate prisoners in a Union prisoner-of-war camp in Alton, IL. Rather than run the risk of infecting residents of Alton, prison officials moved the sick prisoners to Sunflower Island, out in the middle of the Mississippi River. Not surprisingly, it became a place where men went to die. Smallpox Island is a good indicator of the understanding Civil War-era medical personnel had regarding sanitation, infection, and contamination.

Smallpox Island

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Date: April 18, 2015 Time: 10:00am