Malarial mosquitoes helped defeat British in battle that ended Revolutionary War

Was it warmer in Virginia in 1781 than it is today, or has our capacity to cope been enhanced? In fact, climate does not determine our well-being.  Unfortunately, climate change policies might, and for the worse.

H/T and comment above: Indur Goklany

From: The Washington Post

By J.R. McNeill

Monday, October 18, 2010; 3:57 PM

Major combat operations in the American Revolution ended 229 years ago on Oct. 19, at Yorktown. For that we can thank the fortitude of American forces under George Washington, the siegecraft of French troops of Gen. Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, the count of Rochambeau – and the relentless bloodthirstiness of female Anopheles quadrimaculatus mosquitoes.

Those tiny amazons conducted covert biological warfare against the British army. Female mosquitoes seek mammalian blood to provide the proteins they need to make eggs. No blood meal, no reproduction. It makes them bold and determined to bite.

Some anopheles mosquitoes carry the malaria parasite, which they can inject into human bloodstreams when taking their meals. In eastern North America, A. quadrimaculatus was the sole important malaria vector. It carried malaria from person to person, and susceptible humans carried it from mosquito to mosquito. In the 18th century, no one suspected that mosquitoes carried diseases.

Malaria, still one of the most deadly infectious diseases in the world, was a widespread scourge in North America until little more than a century ago. The only people resistant to it were either those of African descent – many of whom had inherited genetic traits that blocked malaria from doing its worst – or folks who had already been infected many times, acquiring resistance the hard way. In general, the more bouts you survive, the more resistant you are.

Read the full story here.

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99 thoughts on “Malarial mosquitoes helped defeat British in battle that ended Revolutionary War

  1. I believe the same was true in London on the Hackney marshes, close to the area where the Olympic stadia and village are being constructed. It was warm enough for malaria bearing insects brought in on sailing ships from the nearby London Docks to over winter. Malaria became a bit of a problem until colder winters and drainage of the marshes for housing put paid to the mosquitos.
    The evidence that former times were much warmer than today is overwhelming.

  2. “The only people resistant to it were either those of African descent – many of whom had inherited genetic traits that blocked malaria from doing its worst …”
    That trait is sickle-cell, where the entrance of the parasite into a red blood cell causes the cell to twist into a sickle shape. It’s painful to those who have it, and it is fatal to the malaria parasite. Something of a bad news/good news trade-off there.

  3. Mosquitoes do not require tropical heat. 1790’s was during the Little Ice Age so temperatures were cooler than today. Yes mosquitoes were rampant in the Hackney Marshes and the name gives it away- marshes. Mosquitoes like stagnant water which was in abundance there in the 1790’s there. The worlds worst outbreak of malaria was in Siberia about 200 years ago. Siberia is not known for its warmth.

  4. Seems a bit demeaning considering the brits had other colonies across the entire world. You’d have thought they might be used to bugs of all sorts.

  5. John Marshall:
    Your comments at October 19, 2010 at 3:12 am are correct.
    Malaria (known as the ague) was endemic throughout the British Isles and through all history until the drainage of the agricultuaral revolution removed the marshes which the mosquitoes inhabited.”
    Cromwell is thought to have contracted it in Ireland and he died of it.
    Paul Reiter’s written presentation to the Select Committee on Economic Affairs covers these matters extensively and is worth reading in its entirety. It can be seen at
    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200506/ldselect/ldeconaf/12/12we21.htm
    The following is an extract from it.
    “I wonder how many of your Lordships are aware of the historical significance of the Palace of Westminster? I refer to the history of malaria, not the evolution of government. Are you aware that the entire area now occupied by the Houses of Parliament was once a notoriously malarious swamp? And that until the beginning of the 20th century, “ague” (the original English word for malaria) was a cause of high morbidity and mortality in parts of the British Isles, particularly in tidal marshes such as those at Westminster? And that George Washington followed British Parliamentary precedent by also siting his government buildings in a malarious swamp! I mention this to dispel any misconception you may have that malaria is a “tropical” disease.
    6. The ague thirteen times in Shakespeare’s plays. In Shakespeare’s time, William Harvey dissected cadavers of patients in St Thomas’s hospital who had died of the infection. Harvey was the first to describe the changes in the consistency of the blood that result in the fatal complications caused by the infection. At the end of the 17th century, a certain William Talbor was knighted after he cured the King of an ague using a concoction of quinine he had developed in the Essex marshes. He later sold his recipe to Louis XIV, became Chevalier Talbor, and died rich and famous after curing many of the aristocrats of Europe.
    7. All this occurred in a period—roughly from the mid-15th century to the early 18th century—that climatologists term the “Little Ice Age”. Temperatures were highly variable, but generally much lower than in the period since. In winter, the sea was often frozen for many miles offshore, the King could hold parties on the frozen Thames, there are six records of Eskimos landing their kayaks in Scotland, and the Viking settlements in Iceland and Greenland became extinct.
    8. Despite this remarkably cold period, perhaps the coldest since the last major Ice Age, malaria was what we would today call a “serious public health problem” in many parts of the British Isles, and was endemic, sometimes common throughout Europe as far north as the Baltic and northern Russia. It began to disappear from many regions of Europe, Canada and the United States as a result of multiple changes in agriculture and lifestyle that affected the breeding of the mosquito and its contact with people, but it persisted in less developed regions until the mid 20th century. In fact, the most catastrophic epidemic on record anywhere in the world occurred in the Soviet Union in the 1920s, with a peak incidence of 13 million cases per year, and 600,000 deaths. Transmission was high in many parts of Siberia, and there were 30,000 cases and 10,000 deaths due to falciparum infection (the most deadly malaria parasite) in Archangel, close to the Arctic circle. Malaria persisted in many parts of Europe until the advent of DDT. One of the last malarious countries in Europe was Holland: the WHO finally declared it malaria-free in 1970.
    9. I hope I have convinced you that malaria is not an exclusively tropical disease, and is not limited by cold winters! Moreover, although temperature is a factor in its transmission (the parasite cannot develop in the mosquito unless temperatures are above about 15ºC), there are many other factors—most of them not associated with weather or climate—that have a much more significant role. The interaction of these factors is complex, and defies simple analysis. As one prominent malariologist put it: “Everything about malaria is so moulded and altered by local conditions that it becomes a thousand different diseases and epidemiological puzzles. Like chess, it is played with a few pieces, but is capable of an infinite variety of situations””
    And that is not the only flaw in the article.
    I point out that in the American War of Independence the Americans lost every battle without exception. The British abandoned the War because they concluded that it was not worth the effort so they went and colonised India instead. Malaria had nothing to do with it.
    Richard

  6. One has only to holiday for a week in the Highlands of Scotland to realise why it is still so empty. No bugger wants to live permanently with those evil Mosquitoes.
    The Highlands are beautiful, and I need a good dose of their stunning scenery every couple of years, but live there? No way!

  7. What an interesting story! – and most probably true.
    Unfortunately the failure of the Royal Navy to relieve the blockade was the principal cause of the British failure at Yorktown. The final redoubt battle which completed the blockade, was a scene where British led German and Highlander troops were defeated by French led German troops. The Royal Navy that arrived at Yorktown too late was a multinational affair which even included French seamen!
    Yorktown was the battle where the Americans beat the British and turned the world upside down. Don’t say it too loudly, but we English and you Americans, didn’t have much say in it though !
    If you wish to see some truely staggering evidence of the effect of tropical disease on Europeans then may I suggest you examine the mortality figures for British troops stationed in the West Indies, India and the West coast of Africa during the 18th and 18th century. The figures are genuinely scarry. The west coast of Africa of was not called: The White Man’s Grave ” for nothing !

  8. You gained independence, but it’s not to late to change your minds. We would be more than happy to forgive and forget and allow your wonderful colonies to become a new Province of her Majesties Canada. Think of the advantage! You could learn to drive on the correct side of the road and learn to spell to name but a few. I’ve also noted a close correlation between the Independance of the 13 colonies and the start of global warming. There, here’s your chance to return to the fold and tackle climate change all at the same time! I’m sure a certain hereditary and Lord would be happy to assume the role of her Majesties Governor in the new world.
    toodle pip!

  9. “I point out that in the American War of Independence the Americans lost every battle without exception. The British abandoned the War because they concluded that it was not worth the effort so they went and colonised India instead. Malaria had nothing to do with it.”
    Richard
    I would add that it was considered more profitable to keep the colonies in covert tyrany, rather than overt. Let them think they are free, whilst they are still subject to covert rule from London through maritime legality.
    But then this is diverting from the topic of this thread.
    Apologies.

  10. But I thought the general line was that it is a bit of a fallacy that mosqitos are associated with warmth (I’m thinking Siberia).

  11. Well in Africa, where about 40 million African children under the age of five have died since the DDT, phony baloney EPA ban, you could make a case each way, hot cold. But it tends towards liberal false science overall.

  12. Richard S Courtney says:
    October 19, 2010 at 3:46 am
    “………. the Viking settlements in Iceland and Greenland became extinct ……”
    Just for the sake of the record, I had not heard that the Icelanders had become extinct , a typo perhaps ?
    But it is quite correct that mosquitoes do not need tropical climate to thrive as well , and as you mention Siberia, I have a friend who spent a summer there few years back in time and he told me that it was necessary to put mosquito nets around the beds , and close the windows well shut at night , to avoid “being eaten alive by the buggers” , so I believe they still thrive there in some areas. But on the other hand there have not been any big outbreaks of malaria there since those you talked about in your comments, whatever the reason.
    As for the American Independence war , I have no idea of whether malaria had anything to do with it’s outcome or not, but my guess is that you are for most part right when you say it was not thought to be worth the effort , or more precisely stated too costly to pursue, compared to the the possible financial gains that the English ruling class might garner from persisting.
    But there was at least one conflict where mosquitoes played a big part in an independence war and that was when the French sent an army to retake the island of Hispaniola ( today’s Haiti + Dominican republic), that had gotten out from under their thumbs few years earlier. They gave up after they had lost 50 thousand soldiers in that venture ( and mostly 18 generals ), mostly caused by yellow fever ,that is also spread through mosquito bites, to which their former slaves were apparently immune.

  13. Richard S Courtney says:{October 19, 2010 at 3:46 am} ” I point out that in the American War of Independence the Americans lost every battle without exception”
    Except for the Battle of Trenton, or the Battle of Princeton or the Battle of Saratoga. I would mention the taking of Ft Ticonderoga but it was done without a fight so technically there was no battle. Let’s not forget that the British left Boston under treat from their own cannon taken from Ft Ticonderoga.
    Gareth Phillips says: {October 19, 2010 at 4:00 am }
    A gallant offer but to coin a phrase from another American in another war: “Nuts!”

  14. As John Marshall, Richard Courtney and David UK say, malaria has very litte to do with temperature. See the youtube clip
    “The Distortion of the Malaria Issue by the UN and Al Gore”
    from the Great Global Warming Swindle, where malaria expert Paul Reiter talks about the IPCC misinformation on this issue.

  15. I have began to wonder about the potential for the re-introduction of malaria, and perhaps other insect-born diseases, with all of the efforts of wetland conservation, creation, etc. Are we potentially just helping to preserve/create mosquito breeding grounds?
    (Horrible pun ahead, you have been warned!)
    If so, then that’s a policy that might come back to bite us in the end.

  16. It doesn’t need to be warm in winter for mosquitoes to survive – if it did, much of Canada would be much more bug-free than it is. Winnipeg (AKA Winter-peg, for those who have been there during the winter months, due to the frigid conditions) has more than enough of the little (blood) suckers during the summer. I haven’t heard of any vast migratory swarms of mosquitoes moving to Capistrano in the autumn…

  17. @ Ken Hall
    You seem to be confusing your mozzies and your midgies!
    The bane of all unsuspecting tourists in Scotland is the wee beastie known as the Scottish midge, Culicoides Impuctatus
    http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/info/Nature/Midges
    Whereas the humble Mosquito [ Culex Pipiens ] is not as nasty as the Killer Midge.
    There are around thirty species of mosquito found in the UK, they are usually larger than midges, but the midge is vastly more numerous in the Scottish Highlands and Westerly areas.
    In order to be fully aware of the evil that can be inflicted by the Scots midge, you’d need to see a caravan or camping park cleared of outside pursuits within minutes of the midge arriving in the early evening. It’s really quite spectacular.
    Had we had the midge on our side back in the day…….

  18. Few people are aware that it is less than forty years since the final eradication of malaria in Europe and the United States. Indeed, the disease was common in the period from the 16th to 18th centuries that climatologists term the Little Ice Age [33], and data from burial records around the Thames estuary reveal that mortality in “marsh parishes” of England was comparable to that in areas of transmission in sub-Saharan Africa today [40,41].
    Until the mid-19th century, the northern limit of transmission was roughly defined by the present 15°C July isotherm. Denmark and parts of Sweden suffered devastating epidemics until the 1860s. Incidence diminished thereafter and the disease had essentially disappeared around the turn of the 20th Century. The same was true in Finland, except for a brief recrudescence in 1941, during the Russo-Finnish war. Figure 1 shows the distribution of malaria cases in Norway between 1860 and 1920. In England, there was a gradual decrease in transmission until the 1880s, after which it dropped precipitously and became relatively rare, except in a short period following World War I. In Germany, transmission also diminished rapidly. After World War I it was mainly confined to a few marshy localities [36].
    http://www.malariajournal.com/content/7/S1/S3
    The global warming alarmists use arguments that increased temperatures will cause increases in the spread of mosquitos and hence malaria. The above dispels that as does Richards post above.

  19. You were doing fine on your own until you suddenly decided to start driving on the wrong side of the road! Never mind, we still think you’re our bestest friends.

  20. The British didn’t get into Quinine until later (in India) when they took it with Gin to disguise the bitter taste, they called it Gin and Tonic. It became an acquired taste for a lot of people and it still is.

  21. Mosquito Fact: There would have been no western partition of Africa in the nineteenth century without the discovery of quinine (and development of the machine gun.) No aims w/out means…
    Fiction: Remember the collapse of the invaders in ‘War of the Worlds’ They came that close 🙂 but we were saved by some bug.

  22. Here are some interesting points and issues surrounding the ‘tropical disease’ Malaria:
    Malaria is thought to have originated in West Africa.

    “…..sometimes common throughout Europe as far north as the Baltic and northern Russia.
    Transmission was high in many parts of Siberia, and there were 30,000 cases and 10,000 deaths due to falciparum infection (the most deadly malaria parasite) in Archangel, close to the Arctic circle. Malaria persisted in many parts of Europe until the advent of DDT.”
    Professor Paul Reiter, Institut Pasteur
    See also Malaria in Finland, Russia and Sweden – 1800–1870 [pdf]

    ————-

    “A total of 1,803 persons died of malaria in the western parts of Finland and in the south-western archipelago during the years 1751–1773 [23]. Haartman [21] reports severe epidemics in the region of Turku in the years 1774–1777 and the physician F.W. Radloff mentioned that malaria was very common in the Aland Islands in 1795 [39].”
    Huldén et al – 2005 Malaria Journal

    ————-

    “Global warming and malaria: a call for accuracy”
    Dr, Prof Paul Reiter et al

    ————-

    “[Canada] But, in the 1800s, particularly along the Rideau and Cataraqui Rivers, malaria was rampant.”
    Mysteries of Canada

    ————-

    “Anopheles atroparvus may have maintained malaria endemicity into the present century in certain coastal localities in southern Sweden. ”
    Jaenson, Thomas G.T et al – 1986

    ————-

    Malaria was once common in marshland communities in central and southern England between 1500 and 1800, before finally disappearing in the early 1900s [8].”
    Steven W Lindsay et al – 2010

    ————-

    “The advent of DDT revolutionized malaria control by targeting the home, leading to widespread eradication of the disease from Europe and North America. By 1975, Europe and North America were entirely free of endemic malaria.”
    AEI

    ————-

    “From Shakespeare to Defoe: malaria in England in the Little Ice Age.”
    “From 1564 to the 1730s the coldest period of the Little Ice Age malaria was an important cause of illness and death in several parts of England. Transmission began to decline only in the 19th century, when the present warming trend was well under way.”
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    “The wealth of records in this period confirms that the disease was common at many coastal sites in England and in some parts of Scotland…”

    Global warming will have a variety of effects, one of which will probably be the return of indigenous malaria.”

    History of Malaria

  23. “…Those tiny amazons conducted covert biological warfare against the British army.”
    WOW!!! It’s amaizing to learn how the American & French forces trained those “tiny amazons” to only bite the British forces & *not* the American & French personel…eh? 😉

  24. Richard Courtney
    “….there are six records of Eskimos landing their kayaks in Scotland,…”
    I have read articles that have claimed that eskimos came to Scotland in their kayaks during the Little Ice Age but I have never been able to find any verifiable evidence to support such claims. If you know of verifiable evidence that eskimos did indeed arrive in Scotland during the LIA then could you please supply it as I would like to pursue it further.
    Thanks
    M Le Judge

  25. On the subject of nature’s indicators of warmth, or otherwise, Berwick Swans have started to arrive in the UK, 3 weeks earlier than usual, 2 weeks earlier than last year.
    If that’s an indicator of the winter to come, I’d better get some more wood cut!

  26. “In order to be fully aware of the evil that can be inflicted by the Scots midge, you’d need to see a caravan or camping park cleared of outside pursuits within minutes of the midge arriving in the early evening. It’s really quite spectacular.”
    Indeed I have witnessed such a thing, and been one of the victims who had to take refuge inside a caravan. Those midgies (of whatever origin) are truly evil.
    My last Holiday in a bothy on Skye was reduced to only 3 days of outdoor activity. The rest of the Holiday I was cooped up inside for the wee beastly midgies.

  27. On a trip to the high Canadian Arctic in 2000 our party were badly bitten by savage mosquitoes. Fortunately I had a midgie net ( purchased in Scotland ) & my face was protected but the b—–s still managed to get between my gloves & cuffs.
    BTW on this trip we visited the remains of a tropical swamp on Axel Heiborg island. Early evidence of Global Warming?

  28. Richard S Courtney says:
    October 19, 2010 at 3:46 am
    I point out that in the American War of Independence the Americans lost every battle without exception.

    NOT SO!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I don’t think Saratoga, Trenton, Cowpens, Kings Mountain, and Yorktown were classified as losses.

  29. Funny stuff, we can debate how us Americans won independence. It could be the mosquitoes, maybe it was the French and Germans that won it for us. But I believe England’s very own William Pitt the elder who articulated why and how we won our independence.
    “If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country, I never would lay down my arms — never! never! never!”—–William Pitt.
    The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:
    October 19, 2010 at 6:08 am
    “You were doing fine on your own until you suddenly decided to start driving on the wrong side of the road! Never mind, we still think you’re our bestest friends.”
    Well, ya, but you guys were the ones the switched up your measurements on us! What the heck? We take the time to learn all of your measurements and distances only for you guys to switch up and tell us we’re doing it wrong. Likely, if we went to driving on the other side you guys would switch back and tell us we’re doing it wrong again! And yeh, we still think you guys are our bestest friends too!

  30. “Cromwell is thought to have contracted it in Ireland and he died of it.”
    Allegedly he refused quinine because he wasn’t going to put up with a Papist Mummery like “Jesuits Bark”……:-)

  31. Entomology is the study of insects. Bet these “scientists” could teach us all a thing or two about climate. Hummmm… are you maybe thinking what I’m thinking? Has anyone seen any entomology papers on climate? Hello…! Anyone know an entomologist?

  32. Don’t fall for the “warmer=more malaria” malarky. The mosquito that carries malaria in the northern hemisphere is dependent on human dwellings to prosper. It likes rain barrels and buckets and puddles. It likes to come inside houses. Malaria was common in Siberia until the 1950s or so. Eliminating malaria was not due to draining swamps, but to window screens, elimination of rain barrels, and other hygiene (plus DDT for many decades).

  33. Ken Hall says:
    October 19, 2010 at 3:57 am
    One has only to holiday for a week in the Highlands of Scotland to realise why it is still so empty. No bugger wants to live permanently with those evil Mosquitoes.
    The Highlands are beautiful, and I need a good dose of their stunning scenery every couple of years, but live there? No way!

    What the scottish midge lacks in stature it makes up for in sheer numbers. I love visiting Scotland but will only go there between Hogmanay (New Year) and the start of May.

  34. As a dumb Engineer, I’d been under the impression that insect-borne diseases required insects and places for them to breed. Mozzies breed around stagnant water. Any liquid water will do. Even for only part of the year. vis Siberia.
    Germany’s Emperor Friederich the Great drained the marshlands of what is now central, north-eastern Germany. Fritz wanted arable land to plant potato; but he also got navigable canals for water transport. Serendipitously the drainage diminished the breeding grounds of the pesky insects; which had been spreading various diseases for along time.
    Environmentalists seem obsessed with returning nature back to what they dream it was; going mad with artificial “biotopes” featuring stagnant ponds of water. Never mind. Germany has the best (and most expensive) health system in Europe so, with reference to historical records from Charité, they can deal with outbreaks of diseases last recorded scores of years ago.

  35. Mosquitoes?…….thus we should call them?……I mean, to the Global Warmers/Climate Changers/Climate Disrupters, A.K.A. “WATERMELONS” (GREEN OUTSIDE AND RED INSIDE) engaged in procuring the next Armageddon?

  36. Yellow fever was feared more than malaria. In summer of 1793 the disease killed 5,000 of Philadlephia’s 45,000 inhabitants and caused some 17,000 to flee the city. http://pds.lib.harvard.edu/pds/view/7374219.
    Most don’t realize the Center for Disease Control (CDC) was created to eradicate malaria. Or that 30% of Al Gore’s home state in 1933 were infected with malaria. http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/about/history/#
    And it all may be coming back. Recent victories by anti pesticide groups in court now require that the spraying of pesticides over water needs to go through formal permit procedures (9th Circuit ruling?). An impossible task when one is trying to suppress a disease outbreak. Consider a city like Sacramento CA surrounded by hundreds of thousands of acres of rice fields that harbor omnipresent but low levels of malaria, dengue and Japanese encephalitis. The diseases have been kept under control by the judicious use of pesticides-dictated by monitoring programs. Now a point source permit must be applied for and go through hearings to allow for spraying….. Pray for the people in Sacramento and in towns like Key West where Dengue is again rearing its head. (Dengue has no cure and is called bone break fever for a reason)
    Its not just the permitting aspects- EPA has had a continuing war on pesticides. Bed Bugs are a good example of how fast things can spin out of control. The explosion of this vermin is the result of EPA banning the pesticides used to control ants and termites in and around homes. DDT knocked them down and the termite and ant treatments allowed til recently suppressed bed bugs as a side effect.
    What worries given the above is we may have more to worry about than itching and scratching in this green new world.

  37. Björn:
    At October 19, 2010 at 5:22 am you assert:
    “Richard S Courtney says:
    October 19, 2010 at 3:46 am
    “………. the Viking settlements in Iceland and Greenland became extinct ……”
    Just for the sake of the record, I had not heard that the Icelanders had become extinct , a typo perhaps ?”
    In the light of recent arguments about “plagiarism” I think I need to point out that the statement was a quotation and not my words.
    I wrote:
    “Paul Reiter’s written presentation to the Select Committee on Economic Affairs covers these matters extensively and is worth reading in its entirety. It can be seen at
    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200506/ldselect/ldeconaf/12/12we21.htm
    The following is an extract from it.”
    And I put the entire matter in quotation marks.
    Anyway, Reiter is correct.
    He wrote the “Viking settlements in Iceland and Greenland became extinct “. They did.
    He did not say “the Icelanders had become extinct”.
    A problem with English not being your first langauage, perhaps?
    Richard

  38. Richard S Courtney says:
    I point out that in the American War of Independence the Americans lost every battle without exception.

    I believe that you picked up that mistaken idea from a well-known observation on General Greene’s batting average, boldfaced at the end of this Wikipedia excerpt. He inflicted Pyrrhic victories on his opponents.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathanael_Greene
    Nathanael Greene
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Nathanael Greene (August 7, 1742 – June 19, 1786) was a major general of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War. When the war began, Greene was a militia private, the lowest rank possible; he emerged from the war with a reputation as George Washington’s most gifted and dependable officer.
    ……………..
    “The [Southern] army was weak and badly equipped and was opposed by a superior force under Cornwallis. Greene decided to divide his own troops, thus forcing the division of the British as well, and creating the possibility of a strategic interplay of forces. Starting with the success of the great and heroic Battle of Kings Mountain in 1780 under then Colonel William Campbell (he would later be appointed as a Brigadier General in 1781) the entire war changed. The entire British force was captured or killed (100% of all opposing forces) in an unbelievable battle of astounding magnitude. A new strategy led to General Daniel Morgan’s victory of Cowpens on January 17, 1781, where nearly nine-tenths of the entire British force were killed or captured. Many of the same forces who were at King’s Mountain also came to Cowpens.
    “With over 800 prisoners Morgan began a strategic retreat, moving north towards Salisbury where he was joined by Greene at Cowan’s Ford on the Catawba River where a force of Patriot Militia fought a small engagement against Cornwallis’s forces. Greene then wrote to Huger to direct his troop movement from Guilford Courthouse. Arriving on February 9 at Guilford, Greene summoned his field officers to a council of war of his chief officers and put forward the question of whether the army should give battle. It was voted that for the time being, the army should continue retreating to gather more forces, and defer engagement with Cornwallis.
    …………………..
    “”This American retreat, which extended across the breadth of North Carolina, is considered one of the masterful military achievements of all time.” Dennis M. Conrad, Project Director and Editor, The Papers of General Nathanael Greene”
    ……………………
    “Greene’s Southern Campaign showed remarkable strategic features. He excelled in dividing, eluding and tiring his opponent by long marches, and in actual conflict forcing the British to pay heavily for a temporary advantage; a price that they could not afford. However, he was defeated in every pitched battle he fought against the British during his time as southern commander.
    “Quotations
    • “We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again.”
    • “I wish we could sell them another hill at the same price we did Bunker Hill.”
    • “Learning is not virtue but the means to bring us an acquaintance with it. Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful. Let these be your motives to action through life, the relief of the distressed, the detection of frauds, the defeat of oppression, and diffusion of happiness.”

  39. Dave from the hot North-East of Scotland
    Thanks for the links.
    Apocryphal is, I think, an appropiate term.
    Regards

  40. Le Judge:
    At October 19, 2010 at 6:42 am you ask me:
    “I have read articles that have claimed that eskimos came to Scotland in their kayaks during the Little Ice Age but I have never been able to find any verifiable evidence to support such claims. If you know of verifiable evidence that eskimos did indeed arrive in Scotland during the LIA then could you please supply it as I would like to pursue it further.”
    I have no evidence of that. Indeed, I did not know of it, and I wonder why your question was addressed to me.
    Richard

  41. Richard S Courtney says:
    October 19, 2010 at 3:46 am
    “I point out that in the American War of Independence the Americans lost every battle without exception.”
    http://www.historycentral.com/Revolt/Cowpens.html says otherwise.
    <
    American General Morgan defeated a British force of regulars under the command of Colonel Tarleton. Morgan's troops enveloped the British in a classic military action that captured all of the British forces.
    <
    General Morgan commanded a force of colonialists – "600 Continental soldiers and seasoned Virginia militia men, together with another 500 untrained militia men." Tarleton commanded 1,000 British regulars and lost 910 of them (800 captured) in the battle.

  42. Disease ( sometimes intentionally inflicted ), weather, and terrain have always been major players in warfare, and always will be. Singling out malaria as a major reason why the British lost Yorktown ignores the many other factors leading to that result. There is no single reason why a battle is won or lost – it is always a combination of factors.

  43. We would have got away with it, if it weren`t for those meddling mozzies!
    You may have won independence, but our climatologists are way more incompetent than yours, so there.

  44. The troublesome farmers in the American colonies were left to their own devices, due to the Indian sub-continent being a far more profitable proposition…
    “No taxation without representation”?
    Huh!
    The colonists paid just 1/20th of what the folks back home were taxed at.

  45. Pascvaks says:
    October 19, 2010 at 7:50 am
    “Entomology is the study of insects. Bet these “scientists” could teach us all a thing or two about climate. Hummmm… are you maybe thinking what I’m thinking? Has anyone seen any entomology papers on climate? Hello…! Anyone know an entomologist?”
    ========================================================
    Its just another group of scientists I deem unworthy of the name. Have they said anything? I’ve seen one paper from an infectious disease doctor throughout the whole malaria scare. Perhaps there were other papers, but surely one could have picked up the phone and told a reporter that the scare was BS……….haven’t heard peep out of them. They’re silence was deafening, also.

  46. Not really surprising – before the invention of penicillin (etc) and the understanding of how diseases are contracted (i.e. tainted water – not miasma) casualties in virtually all wars caused by disease greatly out numbered those caused by actual warfare – sometimes by up to 10 to 1.

  47. Thank you ladies and gentlemen for some most informative and amusing posts. I shall continue to drink gin and tonic regularly as a sovereign remedy for all ills. The quinine prevents malaria, the lemon stops scurvy and the juniper is a general antiseptic (but not anti-sceptic).
    Chin, chin!

  48. Galvanize says:
    October 19, 2010 at 8:44 am
    “We would have got away with it, if it weren`t for those meddling mozzies!
    You may have won independence, but our climatologists are way more incompetent than yours, so there.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Hmm, IDK……….we’ve some doosies ourselves. Maybe Mann and Hansen et al, vs. Jones et al……..a draw?

  49. I was laying on a Cot in Ft. Yukon, with the mosquitoes buzzing-round the net(s)
    Overheard this conversation: “Shall we take him home or, eat him here? ”
    the other Mosquito said:” Better have him here, if we take him home the big ones will get him!”
    Apologies to Red Skelton ..

  50. As one British soldier lamented: “We get terrible provisions now …. putrid meat and wormy biscuits spoiled on the ships. Many of the men have taken sick with the bloody flux and diarrhoea. Foul fever is spreading and we get little rest, night and day”.
    I can’t help but add, however, the fact that at the end, with only 3275 fit for duty (out of 4300 British, 2100 German and 1000 American loyalists), facing 3500 CA, 2000 VA Militia, 9500 French ashore with heavy guns and siege engineers, plus 25000 more in the fleet, might have had something to do with the outcome.
    P.S. Captain Ludwig, Baron von Closen, observed that a quarter of the Continentals were African Americans [primarily because of the common practice of sending slaves “in lieu” to do the fighting]. The all-black Rhode Island Regiment he described as “the most neatly dressed, the best under arms and the most precise in manoeuvres”.

  51. So here we have yet another professor (it would appear) that has “discipline-ites”(a shallow thinking condition brought on by being cloistered within one’s own discipline), as well pointed out above and as evidenced by one of the final conclusions- Mosquitoes helped the Americans snatch victory from the jaws of stalemate and win the Revolutionary War, without which there would be no United States of America. Obviously, the writer knows little about war, how an army functions and strategic logistical planning. And, in many ways, you can say the same thing for the British at that point in time. They alone put themselves in a position that was unwinnable. Of course, it always the loser that says the winner was “lucky” or had some quirk of fate that help them succeed. To conclude the Americans would not have succeeded at a latter point in time is __________. (Fill at will)

  52. Noted in passing, apparently John Adams contracted malaria in the Netherlands when he went there to try and raise money for the revolution.

  53. Sorry, should have tagged this one along on the other. Dr. Benjamin Rush (signer of the Declaration of Independence) noted in his book Bilious Remitting Fever written in 1793 about the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, that yellow fever had spread as far north as Boston. [His cure of preference was to first purge the patient with mercury salts and then bleed them. I suppose if you survived that, you would survive anything.]

  54. Most comments seem to be about the means of delivery and not the package. In the animation at the end of the link below, there appears to be a spatial (geographic) component.
    http://www.map.ox.ac.uk/
    Government and politics?

  55. I seem to remember that malaria (Leishmaniasis) from sand flea bites caused more casualties (or deaths) to US troops then combat in the first Iraq War.

  56. Malaria and Dengue disappeared from Peru, South America, in the 1960’s, but “thanks to the GOOD PEOPLE” of the Club of Rome, Malthusians, and the like, DDT was forbidden and these illnesses have came back. Though it is a known fact that the World Health Organization lifted this ban, it seems that many governments still keep the prohibition of its use except for “industrial purposes”.
    If the ideologists “free thinkers”, win this war against humanity, that “survival” will not be called the “survival of the more fitted” but the “survival of the unfitted”.

  57. The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says: {October 19, 2010 at 6:08 am}
    “You were doing fine on your own until you suddenly decided to start driving on the wrong side of the road! ”
    It is quite logical and correct to drive on the right side of the road rather than the left.
    Since the majority of people are right handed, it is much better that one should have the dominant hand on the wheel while waving the other out the window giving the finger to all other “bad” drivers.

  58. It may have warmed up by October of 1781, but the winters of 1777/78 at Valley Forge and the even colder winter of 1779/80 at Morristown (NJ) seemed to typify the conditions of the ‘Little Ice Age’.
    Doesn’t this article show that there can be warm times in an otherwise very cold period?

  59. Ken Hall says:
    October 19, 2010 at 3:57 am
    One has only to holiday for a week in the Highlands of Scotland to realise why it is still so empty. No bugger wants to live permanently with those evil Mosquitoes.
    The Highlands are beautiful, and I need a good dose of their stunning scenery every couple of years, but live there? No way!

    Anyone who has experienced the voracious clouds of biting ‘midges’ in the Scottish Highlands and wears a kilt, immediately understands the origins the ‘highland fling’.

  60. @Tom in Florida : However, it is much more logical to use your broadsword with your dominant hand. Thus you approach your opponent on the left.

  61. Oh where are Jefferson’s thermometers now? He kept such good temperature records, including the urban heat island in Philadelphia during the writing of the Declaration. (he moved to the outskirts of town to escape the heat of the city)

  62. From John Cleese :
    John Cleese Letter to USA
    To the citizens of the United States of America, in the light of your failure to elect a competent President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today.
    Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories. Except Utah, which she does not fancy. Your new prime minister (The Right Honourable Tony Blair, MP for the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world outside your borders) will appoint a minister for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed. To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:
    1. You should look up revocation in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up aluminium. Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘favour’ and ‘neighbour’, skipping the letter ‘U’ is nothing more than laziness on your part. Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters. You will end your love affair with the letter ‘Z’ (pronounced ‘zed’ not ‘zee’) and the suffix ize will be replaced by the suffix ise. You will learn that the suffix ‘burgh’ is pronounced ‘burra’ e.g. Edinburgh. You are welcome to respell Pittsburgh as ‘Pittsberg’ if you can’t cope with correct pronunciation.
    Generally, you should raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. Look up vocabulary. Using the same twenty seven words interspersed with filler noises such as “like” and “you know” is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. Look up interspersed. There will be no more ‘bleeps’ in the Jerry Springer show. If you’re not old enough to cope with bad language then you shouldn’t have chat shows. When you learn to develop your vocabulary then you won’t have to use bad language as often.
    2. There is no such thing as “US English”. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter ‘u’ and the elimination of -ize.
    3. You should learn to distinguish the English and Australian accents. It really isn’t that hard. English accents are not limited to cockney,upper-class twit or Mancunian (Daphne in Frasier). You will also have to learn how to understand regional accents – Scottish dramas such as Taggart will no longer be broadcast with subtitles. While we’re talking about regions, you must learn that there is no such place as Devonshire in England. The name of the county is Devon. If you persist in calling it Devonshire, all American States will become shires e.g. Texasshire, Floridashire, Louisianashire.
    4. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as the good guys. Hollywood will be required to cast English actors to play English characters. British sit-coms such as Men Behaving Badly or Red Dwarf will not be re-cast and watered down for a wishy-washy American audience who can’t cope with the humour of occasional political incorrectness.
    5. You should relearn your original national anthem, God Save The Queen but only after fully carrying out task 1. We would not want you to get confused and give up half way through.
    6. You should stop playing American football. There is only one kind of football. What you refer to as American football is not a very good game. The 2.15% of you who are aware that there is a world outside your borders may have noticed that no one else plays American football. You will no longer be allowed to play it, and should instead play proper football. Initially, it would be best if you played with the girls. It is a difficult game. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American “football”, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like nancies). We are hoping to get together at least a US Rugby sevens side by 2005. You should stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the ‘World Series’ for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.15% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders,your error is understandable. Instead of baseball, you will be allowed to play a girls’ game called rounders, which is baseball without fancy team strip, oversized gloves, collector cards or hotdogs.
    7. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry guns. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous in public than a vegetable peeler. Because we don’t believe you are sensible enough to handle potentially dangerous items, you will require a permit if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.
    8. July 4th is no longer a public holiday. November 2nd will be a new national holiday, but only in England. It will be called Indecisive Day.
    9. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and it is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean. All road intersections will be replaced with roundabouts. You will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time,you will go metric with immediate effect and conversion tables. Roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.
    10. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips. Fries aren’t even French, they are Belgian though 97.85% of you (including the guy who discovered fries while in Europe) are not aware of a country called Belgium. Those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut and fried in animal fat. The traditional accompaniment to chips is beer which should be served warm and flat. Waitresses will be trained to be more aggressive with customers.
    11. As a sign of penance 5 grams of sea salt per cup will be added to all tea made within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, this quantity to be doubled for tea made within the city of Boston itself.
    12. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all, it is lager. From November 1st only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer,and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. The substances formerly known as American Beer will henceforth be referred to as Near-Frozen Knat’s Urine,with the exception of the product of the American Budweiser company whose product will be referred to as Weak Near-Frozen Knat’s Urine. This will allow true Budweiser (as manufactured for the last 1000 years in Pilsen,Czech Republic) to be sold without risk of confusion.
    13. From November 10th the UK will harmonise petrol (or Gasoline, as you will be permitted to keep calling it until April 1st 2005) prices with the former USA. The UK will harmonise its prices to those of the former USA and the Former USA will, in return, adopt UK petrol prices (roughly $6/US gallon- get used to it).
    14. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you’re not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you’re not grown up enough to handle a gun.
    15. Please tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us crazy.
    16. Tax collectors from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all revenues due (backdated to 1776).
    Thank you for your co-operation and have a great day.
    John Cleese

  63. @Le Judge re. Eskimo kayak and associated equipment:
    http://calms.abdn.ac.uk/Geology/dserve.exe?dsqServer=Calms&dsqIni=Dserve.ini&dsqApp=Archive&dsqCmd=Show.tcl&dsqDb=Catalog&dsqPos=4&dsqSearch=((text)='kayak‘)
    And account thereof (see p.4 onwards):
    http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/adsdata/PSAS_2002/pdf/vol_046/46_213_241.pdf
    I understand there are various theories about the origin of this material: you may wish to check with the Marischal College Museum in Aberdeen, Scotland about its provenance.

  64. Chris says:
    October 19, 2010 at 11:29 am
    Funny, note that it was written in response to GW’s second election.
    To that end, I can only ask Mr. Cleese, how do you like us now?

  65. Le Judge – the first link appears to have been chopped, I’ll try again:
    http://calms.abdn.ac.uk/Geology/dserve.exe?dsqServer=Calms&dsqIni=Dserve.ini&dsqApp=Archive&dsqCmd=Show.tcl&dsqDb=Catalog&dsqPos=4&dsqSearch=((text)='kayak‘)
    This link should end as “((text)=’kayak’)” without the double quotes. Here’s a tiny URL:
    http://tinyurl.com/36qvk3x
    In any event if you search the catalog there for ‘kayak’ you’ll find the relevant entries.
    Hope this is of assistance to you.

  66. The word malaria means “foul air” in Italian, and was applied to the malaria infection in the swamps around Rome (the Seven Hills were mere elevations among the swamp). A synonym for malaria in Italian is “paludismo”, from “palude”=swamp. There is ample historical testimony about malaria in Rome, at about 42° Northern Latidude, since the days of Julius Caesar (or before) to the early 20th century when the swamps were finally refilled. There were also frequent bouts of malaria in Venice and the Po River Valley, in the North of Italy.

  67. re: Malaria
    in the northern parts of Germany (that’s where I am from), malaria was pretty common prior to WWI. From the books of churches in that area, annually between 2 and 5% of the kids below age of 12 were fatal casualties of malaria (old german: “Schlafkrankheit”).
    Lots of documents exists there, at the “Wattenmeerhaus”, http://www.wattenmeerhaus.de, and the “Museum Fedderwardersiel”, http://www.museum-fedderwardersiel.de, unfortunately not online accessible.
    Anyway, Frisians (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frisians) could cope with everything, which they did thrugh centuries.
    “That all Frisians would be fully free, the born and the unborn, so long as the wind blows from heaven and the child cries, grass grows green and flowers bloom, as far as the sun rises and the world stands”.
    Nowadays there are other opportunities than going with Angles, Saxons and Jutes as threat to England (East Anglia) , Galicia, Sicily, Poland, Russia, Ireland, Spain.
    One is “Sea Rescue Service” – “To go out, when everbody else tries to get in, return isn’t guaranteed”. The German Sea Rescue Service (‘DGzRS’) is still a society mostly (7/8) of volunteers, supported by donations from peoples and companies, no government money. Nevertheless, their performance is exceptional.
    For more, see:
    “www.seenotretter.de” – for people leaning to seasickness – don’t look on the top of the screen. And Never, Never look into some videos under the [left menue, “Mediengalerie”] on some of the videos – vomitting is a possibilitty.
    More links:
    http://www.dgzrs.de/index.php?id=265 [english text, German Maritime Search and Rescue Service (DGzRS)]
    http://www.dgzrs.de/index.php?id=271 [english text, fleet, pdf (Bases and tasks – organization and area of operation)]
    KlausB

  68. I don’t know if this reflects climate or control mechanisms. In 1953 I could not go outside to play during the month of August in Klamath Falls, OR. The mosquitos darkened the sky prior to sunset. The cattle across the street were forced to run laps around their pasture to stay ahead of the swarm. At least one died from exhaustion, blood loss or both.
    Two years later the skys were clear. The miracle of DDT had reached the Klamath Basin and life has been better ever since.

  69. KlausB says:
    October 19, 2010 at 1:03 pm
    “and 5% of the kids below age of 12 were fatal casualties of malaria (old german: “Schlafkrankheit”).”
    Wouldn’t that be “Sumpffieber”? (swamp fever) Wikipedia also mentions “Marschenfieber” (marshes fever).

  70. Ken Hall @ 3:57.
    I seem to remember plagues of Scottish Nationalist midges, rather than mosquitos. We took to cleaning our mackerel over the water rather than back on land…the job was too miserable to do on land with a face full of those appalling little creatures.

  71. @Smokey
    Yes this is the same John Cleese. Personally I find the output of Terry Jones to be much funnier since Fawlty Towers ended but I think this captures most of the essence of why the the UK finds the US annoying. We have done very bad things in the world but at least we never made ‘Friends’, or indeed ‘Bud’.
    Google Terry Jones and Documentary for what I mean – his Crusades series is excellent.
    I think Malaria had little to do with why we lost the ‘Colonial War’ for reasons already posted – i.e. we ruled most of the world where malaria was also evident. The French were our undoing which is ironic given how most Americans now hate the French – I believe they actually love Americans from my last visit to Paris and who make the Statue of Liberty ? – and how we (the British Empire) worked with them to defeat Russia in the Crimea.
    This book
    http://www.amazon.com/Marching-Drums-Eyewitness-Accounts-Ladysmith/dp/1853673722
    contains many tales of ‘Derring do’ on behalf of ‘the company’ or ‘The Empire’ all over the world. The chapters on Afghanistan and why we can never win are particularly instructive. Those on India and Burma and why we actually did win those wars and why we had an Empire which is now a Commonwealth.
    Yours.
    Colonel Blimp (rtd)

  72. Pablo an expat @ 6:26.
    Gin and Tonic is a very easily acquired taste! My favourite version of it is made with Bombay Sapphire gin, Fevertree tonic and a slice of frozen lime (failing that, lemon). Dear Other Half prefers a lump of ice added too. I horrify airline cabin crew by never accepting ice in my drinks!
    G and T is a most acceptable medication against the Ague.

  73. Le Judge says:
    October 19, 2010 at 6:42 am

    I have read articles that have claimed that eskimos came to Scotland in their kayaks during the Little Ice Age but I have never been able to find any verifiable evidence to support such claims. If you know of verifiable evidence that eskimos did indeed arrive in Scotland during the LIA then could you please supply it as I would like to pursue it further.
    Thanks
    M Le Judge

    M Le Judge,
    Try page 219 of Climate, history and the modern world By H. H. Lamb.
    Here is part of the quote:
    A bizarre occurrence – serious for the individuals concerned – presumably resulting from the great southward spread of the polar water and ice was the arrival about the Orkney Islands a number of times between about 1690 and 1728, and once in the river Don near Aberdeen, of an Eskimo in his kayak.
    Hope this helps. I found the information surprising to say the least.
    Regards,
    Jack

  74. To our American Friends; All is forgiven, seeing that you didn’t actually beat the British (it was those pesky mozzies), we can now welcome you back to the Commonwealth. The recent “Commonwealth Games” in India show that those games need some world class competition, and you guys are qualified to join in.

  75. This is very interesting as the UK environment agency is planning on letting some coastal areas flood to make marshland rather than fight “sea level rise”(spend money) caused by global warming.
    I wonder if in several years time when the sky hasn’t fallen in will people be suing these government agencies for compensation for loss of family members to malaria etc.

  76. Malaria was a common desease here in Piedmont, NW Italy (Turin is exactly at 45° N) at least until the end of XIX century.
    Bur moquitoes need a wet environment to live, not just a “warm” one; I’ve seen mosquitoes of the “tiger” African specie at over 2000 mt here in the Alps, and they were pretty alive and biting!
    And it’s well known that LIA was not only a “cool” period, but mainly a WET period; here in Piedmont, there are pedological (hydromorphic soils) and geological evidence of a net increase in the annual rainfall; in front of a -1.5 °C decrease in temperature extimated for the LIA, my ancestors were facing at least a +20-30% in rainfall: this led to a lot of catastrophic floodings, as well as a spreading of marshes.
    There are many historical records about the occurrence of hydromorphic soils in in the “expertises”, a French word related to a kind of “field reports” written by the officiers of the “Corp du cataste”; it was a military corp in the French Napolenonic Army (that invaded NW Italy at the end of XVIII century), operating as “rural engineers” with the duty of measuring and checking (also by digging trenches and accurately describing the stratigraphy of the ground) the value of agricultural terrains in the occupied territories.
    Just my 2 cents…..
    Dario

  77. I hadn’t realised WUWT was mainly a British website. Anyway on the subject of Midges and Mosquitos…
    I once camped on Skye (Scotland) with my wife (for one night). The next morning and despite our extensive anti-midge technology she emerged from the tent with a face that looked like she had just emerged from a serious RTA involving a failed airbag. I look like that anyway.
    In Kent we find that the mosquitos are worse during December and January. We are starting to get bites earlier this year, perhaps a sign of the winter to come?
    One thing I have never been able to understand about mosquitos is the “slipper effect”. That is when removing ones slipper to swat the little blighters a successful “hit” results in the mosquito flying right across the room, somtimes twenty feet, and splattering against the wall. This provokes the questions:
    1) Why doesn’t the mosquito splat against the sole of the slipper?
    2) How can such a small creature with an enormous surface area to volume ratio fly at great speed, many times its “design speed”, when I presume it is not flapping its wings? It seems the mosquitos aerodynamic performance is optimised for “slipper events”. Does this have any implications for Darwin’s Theory of Evolution? I have never observed them engage in reproductive behaviour on the way to the wall.
    Any insights on this matter will be greatly appreciated.

  78. What about Admiral deGrasse and the French navy? Their presence at the mouth of the Chesapeake, blocking resupply and reinforcement and effectively completing the encirclement of the British, might have had something to do with the British surrender.

  79. In addition to the late-ish 1700s being the Little Ice Age, malaria was indeed a huge problem in North America. I live in southern Illinois, and malaria used to be a huge problem here. The main reason it is not is because the local governments issue steep fines for things like old tires lying around and stagnant pools, and they also spray for mosquitoes all throughout the summer. People wishing to hike in the summer are encouraged to use DEET. Or they can put up with malaria or West Nile.

  80. @Caveat Emptor:
    “The colonists paid just 1/20th of what the folks back home were taxed at.”
    You mean this isn’t the first time Americans have fought against taxes based on disinformation?
    Let’s face it, the United States began as, and has always been, a tax shelter. 😉

  81. @ Richard S Courtney
    October 19, 2010 at 8:26 am
    OK I stand corrected in attributing the quote “Viking settlements in Iceland and Greenland became extinct “ to you instead of Mr. Reiter. Your quotation marks slipped by when I read your comment and I did not follow the link to the original source either, on first read, so please forgive that slip of the tongue ( or the pen ).
    However you now say :
    “Anyway, Reiter is correct.
    He wrote the “Viking settlements in Iceland and Greenland became extinct “. They did.”
    That is only half correct , the settlements in Greenland which were originally setup around around the year 1000 a.d. by people coming from Iceland and Norway lasted only for some 4-5 centuries ( see the wikipedia article on Eric the Red for a quick overview ) before being abandoned and thus can be said to have become extinct. However settlement in Iceland were never abandoned and Iceland´s capital Reykjavík stands where the first recorded settler choose to make his permanent home, the current population is considered be to mainly descendant from the Norsemen ( vikings ? perhaps or political refugees or both. ) who came to the live there in the decades from 870-930 a.d. So no extinction , though there were some close calls caused by epidemics and/or volcanic eruptions. Ergo Mr. Reiters statement is logically false and therefore incorrect , and that makes your conclusion about him being right in this matter also incorrect.
    I know well that I said “the Icelanders had become extinct”, instead of “Viking settlements in Iceland … became extinct”, but being a a native Icelander to me that is one and the same as I am aware of the fact that the has not been any period since the Norsemen came here that there was any real extinction of settlements here most of our history from that time on is on the record and there is a full continuity in it to present time .
    So yes, English is not my first language, but i am quite fluent and have no trouble reading, or speaking it, and it can not be blamed as a reason if I come across as being inexact, but must rather be ascribed to a loose/lazy writing style or maybe a “poetic license” or something . (:-D.
    But enough of that, this was only a minor matter or OT in the context of the your first comment, but it stuck me as being little inexact, as explained above.

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