The conduct of American military physicians in prisoner of war (POW) camps has been called into question by the abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib and Guanta´namo Bay. This essay explores the experiences of the first U.S. military physicians to confront POW patients in large numbers—events that occurred during the American Civil War. While POWs received sub-standard care in camps north and south, the war also saw the issuance of the first document to outline the rights of POWs. This ambivalence toward the proper care and treatment of the POW is evident in the career of Dr. Eugene Sanger, the first Union surgeon at the prison camp in Elmira, New York. Sanger demonstrated both concern about the sanitary condition of the camp and pride in the deaths of POWs as furthering the overall war aims. His cruelty attracted some censure, but Sanger never faced disciplinary action. He was honorably discharged and went on to become the Surgeon General of his home state. This article places his actions at Elmira in the context of medical ethics, Army orders, and Northern opinion in 1864, and it will argue that the lack of Federal response to Eugene Sanger’s poor record while serving at the prison set a precedent for inferior medical care of POWs by American military physicians.
While many works have examined urban mortality rates in nineteenth-century Europe, much less attention has been placed on disease patterns in the peripheral areas surrounding these population centers. This study demonstrates that during the Swedish diphtheria epidemic of the early 1880s, mortality rates among children living in the industrial parishes on the outskirts of the town of Sundsvall exceeded those found in the town itself. The epidemic was fueled by the mass in-migration of laborers and their families from distant provinces who sought work in the region’s sawmills. Thus, in contrast to the common pattern of disease entering through a port city and spreading into the interior, in this case diphtheria followed the paths of migrants through the rural parishes of the Sundsvall region to the sawmills and then finally into the town itself. This spatial pattern was reversed in the late fall when migrants returned home. Conflicts within the medical profession regarding how best to prevent or contain diphtheria, popular suspicion and distrust of local physicians, and the introduction of the disease into a population with no prior contact with it, all helped increase the number of young corpses.
Recent accounts of the emergence of sexology have addressed the role played by homosexuals and sexual radicals in framing the questions posed by psychiatrists. This work has focused largely upon American and Continental psychiatry (with regard to homosexuality), with attention to British sexologists sometimes being tied to contemporary feminist concerns with the sexual double standard. In both cases, psychiatrists are shown to be following other social movements. In the existing work, British psychiatrists of the nineteenth century who wrote about homosexuality have been largely ignored because it appears to have been assumed that very little material existed prior to Havelock Ellis’ Sexual Inversion (1897). In this article, I demonstrate that there were a number of British psychiatric discussions of sexual perversions, and that these discourses show an engagement on the part of British psychiatrists with the theoretical issues that occupied their (mostly) Teutonic colleagues, rather than evidence of any other external driving force behind the production of sexological discourses. These sexological texts are either original papers, or reviews of Continental sources, both of which illustrate the importation of sexological ideas into Britain before the writing of Havelock Ellis.