Disease and sickness was no stranger to the citizens of North Carolina during the Civil War. Smallpox existed in many neighborhoods all across the state. In September 1862, Wilmington was visited by a severe type of yellow fever. In a two-month span there were more than 1,505 cases reported, with over 450 deaths. Those fleeing Wilmington were turned back by armed guards in New Bern and other towns.
There were no trained nurses in the state and very few doctors. A number of Sisters of Mercy from Charleston, South Carolina were sent at the request of the Confederate government, and they performed gallant and heroic work. New Bern also had a sharp epidemic of yellow fever which occurred during the Federal occupation of the town.
It is regrettable that no records were kept during this period. It had been handed down from generation to generation just how severe the different diseases were among the citizens of North Carolina during the four years of war.