Civil War Medicine

Research and Publications on Civil War Medicine by Guy R. Hasegawa


Villainous Compounds:

Chemical Weapons and the American Civil War


    by Guy R. Hasegawa

Released September 2015

ISBN-10: 0-8093-3430-5

ISBN-13: 978-0-8093-3430-8

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From the publisher:

Most studies of modern chemical warfare begin with World War I and the widespread use of poison gas by both sides in the conflict. However, as Guy R. Hasegawa reveals in this fascinating study, numerous chemical agents were proposed during the Civil War era. As combat commenced, Hasegawa shows, a few forward-thinking chemists recognized the advantages of weaponizing the noxious, sometimes deadly aspects of certain chemical concoctions. They and numerous ordinary citizens proposed a host of chemical weapons, from liquid chlorine in artillery shells to cayenne pepper solution sprayed from fire engines. In chilling detail, Hasegawa describes the potential weapons, the people behind the concepts, and the evolution of some chemical weapon concepts into armaments employed in future wars. As he shows, bureaucrats in the war departments of both armies either delayed or rejected outright most of these unusual weapons, viewing them as unneeded or unworkable. Nevertheless, many of the proposed armaments presaged the widespread use of chemical weapons in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Especially timely with today’s increased chemical threats from terrorists and the alleged use of chemical agents in the Syrian Civil War, Villainous Compounds: Chemical Weapons and the American Civil War expands the history of chemical warfare and exposes a disturbing new facet of the Civil War.

From Civil War experts:

"This book has all the qualities that mark author Guy Hasegawa's scholarship: an interesting subject, engaging writing, andespeciallyimpeccable research. Indeed, the bibliography alone is worth the price of this book; readers will be impressed with the breadth of the author's reliance on primary and period sources. The war unleased some unconventionaleven 'mad' genius among inventors, North and South, and Hasegawa describes it from 'arsenic' to 'zinc.'"James M. Schmidt, author of Galveston and the Civil War: An Island City in the Maelstrom

"For the military leadership of the American Civil War, few concepts were more important than honor, and few ideas as pervasive as the goal of engaging in 'civilized warfare.' Even as the exigencies of war destroyed these ideals, proposals to use poisonous chemicals in battle were largely rejected. Hasegawa's masterful and exhaustive exploration of toxic Civil War ingenuity charts the course of such ideas, which would come to horrible fruition in World War I."Margaret Humphreys, M.D., Ph.D., Josiah Trent Professor in the History of Medicine, Duke University