The following report on the deaths of the soldiers of the 78th Regiment at Trincomalee and their families from from Cholera comes from Statistical report on the Sickness, Mortality and Invaliding among the troops serving in Ceylon (1841). — Tim Willasey-Wilsey

About the 12th October [1832 the cholera] extended to Trincomalee, and committed most appalling havoc on a part of the garrison, as will be seen by the following details :

78th Regiment at Trincomalee
Strength 275 (exclusive of women and children)
Attacked by simple cholera: 25 men, 4 women and 1 child
Attacked by spasmodic cholera: 109, 6 women and 4 children
Died of cholera: 56 men, 2 women and 1 child

Never-did epidemic cholera rage with such severity as in the 78th Regiment. on this occasion; some idea of it may be formed from the circumstance, that in two nights the 23rd and 24th October, 25 of that corps died, and nearly a fourth part of the whole was at one time in hospital. Among those who died in these two nights, the average duration of the attack did not exceed twelve hours, but at a later period it was much more protracted, and a larger proportion of the cases ultimately recovered. Fortunately the epidemic was of short duration; the last fatal case among the White Troops was admitted on the 1st of November, but among the Black Troops several occurred afterwards, of which a large proportion proved fatal. It does not appear that the experiment of removing the troops from the locality where the disease originated, as adopted so successfully at Colombo, was attempted on this occasion: but the principal fury of the epidemic had probably exhausted itself before there was time for such arrangements. In this brief notice of the ravages of epidemic cholera, we have endeavoured to condense the principal observations recorded b the Medical Officers on each occasion, and it is only to be regretted that, however carefully these have been made, they lead to no uniformity of conclusions, either as to the origin or dissemination of the disease. The weather in 1819, when the epidemic first made its appearance in the island, was directly the reverse of what it was in 1829 and 1832, being as remarkably cold and wet, as in the other years it was hot and dry; whatever might be the condition of the atmosphere, the disease was found, here as elsewhere, to hold its course uncontrolled. The manner in which it occasionally extended from one station to another in the vicinity, with which the intercourse was considerable, would give some countenance to the supposition, that it might be propagated by contagion, Were that not decidedly negatived by instances equally numerous in which it did not extend at all, though no means were adopted to prevent free communication with the station at which it originated; and also by the circumstance, that in hospitals, where its effect on all classes was most carefully watched, persons in immediate contact with the sick did not suffer more than others who were not so exposed. It seems necessary, therefore, to leave these contested points in their original doubt and obscurity, and to be content with the facts, without attempting to deduce therefrom any positive conclusions.

Related material


Statistical report on the Sickness, Mortality and Invaliding among the troops serving in Ceylon. London: W. Clowes, 1841.

Created 2 April 2018