A doctor at Fort Devens wrote a letter to a friend describing the 1918 flu epidemic:
“This epidemic started about four weeks ago, and has developed so rapidly that the camp is demoralized and all ordinary work is held up till it has passed. All assemblages of soldiers taboo.
“These men start with what appears to be an attack of la grippe or influenza, and when brought to the hospital they very rapidly develop the most viscous type of pneumonia that has ever been seen. Two hours after admission they have the mahogany spots over the cheek bones, and a few hours later you can begin to see the cyanosis extending from their ears and spreading all over the face, until it is hard to distinguish the coloured men from the white. It is only a matter of a few hours then until death comes, and it is simply a struggle for air until they suffocate.
“It is horrible. One can stand it to see one, two or twenty men die, but to see these poor devils dropping like flies sort of gets on your nerves. We have been averaging about 100 deaths per day, and still keeping it up. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a new mixed infection here, but what I don’t know.
“My total time is taken up hunting rales, (crackling sounds from the lungs) rales dry or moist, sibilant or crepitant or any other of the hundred things that one may find in the chest, they all mean but one thing here — pneumonia — and that means in about all cases death.”
About John Malloy of 55 Columbia Street…