March 1918

Report are concentrated on war preparation during March 1918. US soldiers risk severe punishment for sleeping on duty (March 1), desertion (March 8), and avoiding the draft (March 10). War bonds or other fundraising efforts are the topic in several local posts (March 1, 2, and 6, 11, 18, 19, 20), with one of them featuring an event for which 50 lbs of whale meat had been secured (March 20), as other meats were saved for the troops. While the meat rationing has reduced beef consumption by 30%, according to one testament in a Senate hearing, a beef shortage is predicted unless cattle feeders and farmers are given relief (March 12).

Influenza starts to appear more frequently in the news, and the extent of it in the army is noted (March 29). "Grippe will not be so fashionable when it becomes generally known that many of our army mules are suffering from influenza” reports Indiana’s Jasper Weekly Courier (March 15). The first private checked into Camp Funston with influenza at the beginning of the month (March 4) and by the end, 163 of soldiers at Camp Sherman have influenza (March 21). The widespread vaccination of pigs is reported on March 18, and another post argues that protecting pigs can prevent influenza (March 7).

The overall general health in US military training camps is reported to be “very good,” despite an increase in deaths from 18 to 223; most of these deaths are due to pneumonia (March 29). The importance of keeping the troops healthy is recognized, as physicians in the medical reserve are considered for a rank increase (March 14). In the general public, a “war” on “secret diseases” (STDs) is declared (March 3), a third case of smallpox is reported in Barre, Vermont (March 5), and exposure to communicable diseases, including influenza, is sufficient to exclude at school and Sunday school (March 22).