Iowa History Daily: September 28 - Camp Dodge Shuts Down

Iowa History Daily: On September 28, 1919, the Base Hospital of Camp Dodge near Des Moines went into quarantine due to the influenza pandemic. As World War I started to wind-down, the 32,000 troop installation on the edge of Iowa’s capital city braced for the ravages of a non-military threat to public health and safety.

The first cases in the state of the Spanish Flu spread into the state over the course of September, and papers reported four dead at the Industrial Training School for Boys in Eldora. By late September the Base Hospital went into quarantine as over 300 suspected cases plagued soldiers at Camp Dodge. Fennon Landers, a Private from Henderson, Kentucky, died on October 1 sending the camp into a frenzy.

As the pandemic peaked in the camp over the following weeks hundreds of military health personnel scrambled to treat more than 6,000 soldiers who fell ill. As many fell ill and died within a span of hours, camp officials struggled to keep up with the widespread loss of life as hundreds died in the first two weeks.

By the time military officials released summative reports in November, at least 702 soldiers of 10,000 who fell ill ultimately died. Only a year later the federal government decommissioned the base and handed control over to the Iowa National Guard, a transfer at least tangentially related to the distrust which developed between the community and the camp while the pandemic raged at Camp Dodge over the fall of 1919. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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