It killed more Americans than all of our 20th century wars combined. When 138 soldiers at Camp Gordon in Atlanta were hit with it this day in 1918, the Spanish Flu epidemic had spread across Georgia.
The flu hit just as World War I ended. That war took 10 million lives over four years. The flu killed 20 million people in just 18 months. It was worse than the Black Death of the Middle Ages.
The flu ravaged the troops in trenches and the soldiers in barracks. In Georgia, the flu attacked Augusta's Camp Hancock first, then invaded Atlanta and Macon.
Amid rising fear and panic, officials struggled to contain the pandemic. The Atlanta City Council banned public gatherings: in schools, in theaters -- even in churches. Funerals were limited to 15 minutes. The University of Georgia suspended classes. Soldiers on quarantined bases slept outside. Everyone wore gauze masks as protection.
Though Georgia was spared the worst, 750 died in Atlanta alone after the most devastating epidemic in American history first infected our state on October 2, 1918, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.