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The Quartermaster’s Glanders Stable

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Quartermaster's Glanders Stable

Quartermaster’s Glanders Stable at Old City Cemetery

As you may know we have been posting blogs about Lynchburg, Virginia’s Old City Cemetery since the beginning of the year.  We are almost at the end of highlighting a different part or aspect of this unique, historical and widely visited corner of Lynchburg.

This month we are featuring the Quartermaster’s Glanders Stable.  Although the Quartermaster’s stable, that housed the thousands of horses and mules essential to the operation of the Civil War was actually located at the “fairgrounds” (which included the present E.C.Glass High School campus) it is represented and presented on the grounds of the Old City Cemetery.

Lynchburg was one of the four quartermaster depots for the Confederacy.  The depot’s main function was to supply General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia with the necessary horses and mules needed to conduct the war effort.  Over a 15 month period, of the 6,875 horses stabled in Lynchburg, only 1000 were sent into the field.  Almost 3,000 died, 449 were shot and the remainder were unfit for service.  The great glandes epizootic was affecting the horses, mules and even humans.  The stable allowed for innovative medical research on the disease and how it was affecting the cavalry horses.

What is glanders?  The respiratory disease, which causes major respiratory distress and death, was a virus spread at watering troughs and in unhealthy stable conditions where the horses were prone to nuzzle.  Infected mucus was easily passed from one animal to another as horses use their noses and the sense of smell to identify and communicate with one another.  There was no cure.

Quartermaster's Glanders Stable

Horse Trough at Old City Cemetery

Doctor Terrell and Doctor Page studied 19 horses stricken with glanders, conducting postmortem examinations at various stages of the disease’s progression.  They also intentionally transmitted the disease from a sick horse to a healthy one, sacrificing it 33 days later to study its advanced and terminal symptoms.

Prevention of the disease was the only solution to controlling the epidemic.  Horses and mules were placed in uncrowded, well-ventilated stables, which introduced good sanitation and a healthy diet.  The animals no longer used communal watering troughs.  Any infected animals were destroyed.  The ancient disease known as glanders was not completely eradicated until 1934.

Placed on the cemetery grounds, across the street from the Chapel and Columbarium, is a marker describing this important contribution to veterinary medicine.  Dr. John Jay Terrell, a Quaker, is mentioned.  He helped eradicate smallpox, in humans at the Pest House (blog post 1/12/16), and eradicate the spread of glanders in the animals who served a very important role in the war.