It’s often noted that in the eighteenth century more soldiers died in camps of disease or other causes than on the battlefield. Here are extracts from David How’s diary in February 1776, during the siege of Boston, that pertain to life and death:
7 [Feb 1776] This Day two men In Cambridge got a bantering Who wodd Drink the most and they Drinkd So much That one of them Died In About one houre or two after . . .As I said, mostly financial transactions. And yet How was just seventeen.
10 There was two women Drumd out of Camp This fore noon
That man was Buried that killed himself Drinking . . .
12 There was a man found Dead in a room with A. Woman this morning. It is not known what killed him. . . .
17 Liet. Chandler Broke out with the Small pox and was sent To the pest house this afterNoon . . .
21 Leut. Chandler Died with the Small pox At the pest house About one a Clock in the Day . . .
27 Daniel Chandler paid me Lawfull money that Lieut. Chandler owd me.