Dr. Black Vomit was a precursor to weapons of mass destruction

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"Such an act cannot be held to belong to civilized war. It is an outrage against humanity calling for, and will receive, the universal execration of mankind."
- Gazette, Saturday, May 27, 1865

By early 1864, the U.S. Civil War was starting to swing decisively against the Confederacy. In desperation, a well-respected doctor from Kentucky, Luke Blackburn, hatched what he called "an infallible plan directed against the masses of Northern people solely to create death."

Nearly a century and a half before the term would be invented, Blackburn proposed to attack the North with a weapon of mass destruction.

In April of 1864, yellow fever broke out in Bermuda. Those infected faced fever, vomiting, hemorrhages, delirium, seizures, and coma. There was no known cure, and perhaps one-third would die.

Blackburn set off for Bermuda. He nursed the sick with great skill, compassion and, indeed, courage, refusing to accept any pay, but he had a hidden motive. Day after day, he collected his patients' clothing and bedding, caked with black vomit and other effluvia, and stored them in several trunks. And when the disease finally abated, Blackburn with his trunks left for Halifax.

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