Cholera Burials

Location: 1060' East of Applewhite Rd. bridge approach to Medina River.

The Cholera Butial Ground along the Medina River is likely the burial place of those US Army soldiers that died during the 1866 Cholera pandemic. Given the number stricken, it is likely that burials were done in mass unmarked graves.

When cholera came once again to San Antonio in Sept. 1866, the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment (white) was ordered to remove from San Antonio to the Medina River.

On Sept. 7th, 1866 the first case of cholera among these soldiers appeared among companies G and D. Army Asst. surgeon Dr. William M Austin, of the 17th, established a cholera hospital on site and implemented strict sanitation protocols.

According to Dr. P. V. Schenck, Asst Surgeon and Brevet Major of the 4th Cavalry, this included the immediate burial of the dead with their belongings, then the burning and disinfection of the burial site.

Several days later the US 4th Calvary that had also been stationed in San Antonio removed to the Medina River, camping seperately from the 17th's site. Company K of the 4th Cavalry, was particularly hard hit by cholera.

The cholera cases among the soldiers peaked on Sept 19 - 20, and disappeared by Sept 30. In all there were 382 cases among the soldiers camped on the Medina, with 64 deaths.

In 1868 the San Antonio National Cemetery opened and soldiers remains were moved to this cemetery with the exception of those that died of cholera; since it was too soon to do so. The military required at least 50 years before exhuming remains of cholera victims due to safety concerns.

Contributed by Lynne Barnes

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