Usually a dishonorable discharge means you're done serving.
Apparently, Hill's West Point education included some advanced "flanking maneuvers," and he picked up the clap while on furlough in New York City in 1844. Since there was no cure for the disease at the time, it had an unfortunate way of cropping up and affecting his performance at inopportune moments. One general described him as a "prodigy" at his best and "disappointing" and "lackluster" at his worst.
Hill spent most of the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg unwell and confined to his cot, looking "very delicate" to all who saw him. Things didn't go well in his absence from his men; under strict orders from General Lee not to engage in battle, Hill's subordinates did exactly the opposite. When Lee asked Hill why there were sounds of battle coming from the east, "the obviously ill corps commander claimed ignorance and mounted his horse to investigate." Later, though his corps made up the majority of the famous Pickett's Charge, Hill wasn't placed in command of the action, and also sort of forgot to mention (or simply didn't know) how badly beaten up those troops were. His corps suffered the most casualties during the ill-fated battle, and led the retreat back into Virginia.
Would fresh troops during Pickett's Charge, or a mentally sound general, or a condom years earlier, have resulted in the South winning the Civil War? Hard to say. But we are on board with the condom thing, in case you're furloughing in New York this year.
Armies In The World Wars Had To Wage Equal War Against STDs
Regardless of where in the world they were fighting, Allied soldiers in World War I and World War II all faced another insidious threat: STDs. It turns out that soldiers, behaving like the overly hormonal teenagers they were, had a habit of sticking their bayonets into all sorts of foxholes without giving much thought to the dangers lurking therein.
A whopping 6 percent of all ailments treated in the trenches of World War I were STDs, and without antibiotics to cure the diseases, the impact was fairly grim. In the course of that war, soldiers lost seven million person-days, and the Army was forced to discharge more than 10,000 men for, again, discharge-related reasons.
By World War II, the military wasn't playing around anymore. Seeing as they couldn't eradicate venereal disease with tanks, bombs, or some kind of Dirty Dozen-esque raid, they instead deployed an arsenal of "penis propaganda." Working with the U.S. Public Health Service and the Federal Security Agency, the surgeon general created dozens of posters which featured attractive women warning soldiers about the many dangers of digging in their trenches.
U.S. Public Health Service
The male's role in spreading VD is curiously underplayed.
So did it work? Sort of. According to the U.S. Army's Office of Medical History, "the lowest venereal disease rates in the U.S. Army occurred during 1943 and [...] the rates began to rise in 1944, further increased in 1945, and showed marked increases after the cessation of hostilities." So not a raging success story. But speaking of things which weren't raging any more, thanks to advancements in treatment and the STD atom bomb known as "penicillin," by the end of the war, days missed due to illness hit an all-time low.
Yeah! Now who's the "great" war, World War I?
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