Marrow of Tragedy
The Health Crisis of the American Civil War
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
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List of Illustrations
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To properly thank all of those who have contributed to this book, Iâd have to begin with the Brownie Scout leaders who took me to Fort Donelson in the second grade and continue from there. Raised in the South by a mother from Minnesota, I have long realized that the war was the key event in American history and that sooner or later I would have to engage it professionally. This ...
Introduction: Call and Response
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The American Civil War was the greatest health disaster that this country has ever experienced, killing more than a million Americans and leaving many others invalided or grieving.1 It does not seem to have occurred to the leadership on either side that the war would produce casualties and that the gathering of men in great camps would provide a field day for infectious ...
1 Understanding Civil War Medicine
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For the men and boys who signed on to fight in the Civil War, the world changed remarkably. No longer at work in their usual trade or at school studying under the teacherâs rule, they were instead cast into a new world of marching, tenting, and shooting. They left a domestic world where each of the sexes had its assigned tasks, to enter a newly ordered one in which ...
2 Women, War, and Medicine
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At the top of anyoneâs list of âFamous Women in the Civil Warâ is Clara Bar-ton, who organized battlefield relief stations, visited Andersonville after the war to identify the dead and notify families, and in the 1880s established the American Red Cross. So when she told a Memorial Day audience in 1888 that at the end of the Civil War, âWoman was at least fifty years in advance ...
3 Infectious Disease in the Civil War
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One of the most remarkable changes in medical thought in the nineteenth century was in the understanding of infectious diseases. At the start of the century, most physicians in Europe and America would have agreed that the fevers (a nebulous category marked by the symptom of high temperature) were caused by inhaling the foul odors that arose from various forms of filth. ...
4 Connecting Home to Hospital and Camp: The Work of the USSC
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In the war fever that followed the firing on Fort Sumter and President Abra-ham Lincolnâs call for troops, men rushed to volunteer while women and men not of fighting frame rushed to support the war effort in other ways. In the North, the U.S. Sanitary Commission was born amid this wave of âexcited benevolence of the country towards the army.â1 Its efforts funneled ...
5 The Sanitary Commission and Its Critics
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If the U.S. Sanitary Commission was so great, why did so many contempo-raries attack it? The record of the USSC during the Civil War was one of sus-tained benevolence and significant reform. Why, then, did the agency spend so much effort during the four years of its existence defending its record and actions? How could such a beneficent organization earn opprobrium from ...
6 The Union’s General Hospital
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In 1876 Philadelphia hosted the Centennial International Exhibition, osten-sibly to celebrate the one-hundredth birthday of the Declaration of Indepen-dence but actually to showcase the industrial and agricultural prowess of the United States. Attracting some 10 million visitors (at a time when the U.S. population was 46 million), this first American âWorldâs Fairâ illustrated the ...
7 Medicine for a New Nation
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Confederate medical leaders struggled with the same challenges as their Union counterparts, but they also embraced the opportunities offered by the war to create a new medical system for their nascent country, one that would rival the Northâs and encompass the best features of contemporary medi-cine.1 These leaders had a fairly clear idea of what progressive medical educa-...
8 Confederate Medicine: Disease, Wounds, and Shortages
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While Samuel Preston Moore imagined his southern medical Renaissance in Richmond, the day-to-day reality of the Confederate hospital was one of frequent and widespread shortages that affected every aspect of medical care for soldiers as the war went forward. Hospital beds, medical supplies, surgical instruments, hospital workers of all types, and mules and wagons ...
9 Mitigating the Horrors of War
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In May 1864 Union physicians had reason to become personally aware of the shortages of food and other supplies in the Confederacy. During a lim-ited exchange of prisoners of war, a ghastly parade of âliving skeletonsâ dis-embarked from boats that had ferried them from Belle Isle prison in Rich-mond. Broadly publicized in northern newspapers, the condition of these ...
10 A Public Health Legacy
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Elisha Harris probably would not have phrased it this way, but he and the cause he held most dear had a very good war. In the 1850s Harris had been frustrated by failures to institute sanitary reforms in the United States. Through his work with the USSC during the war, however, he saw the goals of sanitation broadcast nationwide, and he participated in the flowering of ...
11 Medicine in Postwar America
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How did the war influence medicine in postwar America? Chapter 10 consid-ered how understandings of the causation and prevention of infectious dis-ease directly affected public health. This chapter follows other threads of the narrative into the world of postwar medicine, exploring influence, change, and sometimes stasis. Historians of American history have long debated the ...
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Imagine that on July 21, 1861, there you stand, an observer near Manassas Junction, Virginia. Out of the smoke and noise staggers a man, clutching his arm, calling out in pain as blood drips onto his boots. He falls on the bare ground at your feet. What can you do for him? Tear up your petticoat to make a tourniquet to stop the bleeding? Cup some water in your hands from ...
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Page Count: 408
Illustrations: 19 halftones
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Johns Hopkins Biographies of Disease
Series Editor Byline: Charles E. Rosenberg, Series Editor