Weapons of Mass Destruction - Research Article from Americans at War

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Chemical Warfare

Chemical and biological agents have been in use by warring factions since marauding hordes in medieval Europe catapulted disease-ridden corpses into walled cities to drive out the inhabitants. However, methodical scientific development of chemical agents to use in battle was considered too brutal and uncivilized to be undertaken in modern times—until the excruciatingly slow pace, high casualty rate, and virtual stalemate of trench warfare in World War I. The French first fired tear-gas grenades (xylyl bromide) against the Germans in August 1914. The Germans, however, soon lead the world in developing and using chemical agents in warfare. After early experiments with non-lethal chemical irritants, including tear gas, the German army used chlorine gas in April 1915 at the Second Battle of Ypres. Within seconds of inhalation chlorine gas destroyed respiratory organs and caused death. Then came the use of phosgene gas, similarly lethal and...

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This section contains 1,474 words
(approx. 5 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Weapons of Mass Destruction Encyclopedia Article
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Americans at War
Weapons of Mass Destruction from Americans at War. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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