Recent research has revealed that 1 in 4 slaves liberated between 1862 and 1865 by legislation or the passing Union Army was dead by 1870. What happened?
Students of the Civil War know that disease killed two soldiers for every one killed in combat. Farm boys didn’t have much resistance to germs encountered in Civil War training camps that had larger populations than the counties most of those farm boys were raised in. Well, most slaves during their captivity had encountered even fewer people than had the typical farm boy—so freedom meant exposure to lots of new people, and lots of never-before encountered (and often potentially lethal) germs: