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Samuel Preston Moore: Confederate Surgeon General Warner Dahlgren Fair Samuel Preston Moore, the highest-ranking Southern medical officer in the Confederate Army, had the overwhelming task of establishing an entirely new medical corps and medical administration. Requirements included recruiting, examining, and certifying new military physicians and nurses; establishing a nationwide military evacuation and military hospital system; devising a systematic method of treating war wounds; developing domestic pharmaceutical resources; and procuring surgical instruments and appliances. His service to the Confederacy is the centerpiece of H. H. Cunningham's Doctors in Gray: The Confederate Medical Services, in which he is described in the opening pages as "intelligent, thorough, impartial, and industrious . . . great work as an organizer , his remarkable executive ability . . . every paper emanating from that office . . . . was a model of despatch and neatness." In keeping with that kind of personality, he was also "extremely addicted to the formality ofarmy discipline and that consequently his relationship with the officers of his department was not such as to make him an object ofaffectionate regard." The remainder ofthis classic work is the story ofhow Moore used these traits and quirks to mold and mature the Confederate Army Medical Corps in the midst ofa bloody war, with a blockade that included all medical supplies, into the best-run department in the Southern government. More recently, Harris D. Riley, Jr., has written that Moore "is among the least appreciated personages of the Civil War."' Views expressed by the author are not necessarily those ofthe U.S. Army. ' His rank is the subject of some controversy. His title was surgeon general, his pay was above that of a colonel but less than that of a brigadier general, and he wore no uniform. Most surgeons general ofthe state militias wore a general's insignia. Abill to make him atrue brigadier was passed by the Confederate Congress and vetoed on a technicality by President Jefferson Davis, but he is often listed as a brigadier general. See Robert U. Johnson and Clarence C. Buel, eds. Battles and Leaders ofthe Civil War, 4 vols. (New York: The Century Company, 1887), 1:6. Samuel E. Lewis, Samuel Preston Moore: Surgeon General, ofthe Confederate States (Washington, D.C., 191 1), 2. Dr. Lewis was the chairman and treasurer of the Samuel Preston Moore Monument Committee of the Association of Medical Officers of the Army and Navy of the Confederacy. This pamphlet was published to raise funds for a monument. Horace H. Cunningham, Doctors in Gray: The Civil War History, Vol. XLI, No. 1 © 1995 by The Kent State University Press 42CIVIL WAR HISTORY The son of Stephen West Moore and Eleanor Screven Gilbert, his original American ancestor was Dr. Mordecai Moore, who landed with Lord Baltimore to help take possession of the lord's grant of Maryland from Charles I. Born September 16, 1813, Samuel Preston Moore was the sixth ofnine children. He received his early education in Charleston, South Carolina. An older brother, Stephen West Moore, graduated from West Point, served with Zachary Taylor in Mexico, and was a Louisiana brigadier general. Samuel Preston Moore graduated at twenty-one years of age from the Medical College of South Carolina, one ofthe most prestigious medical schools in the South in the early nineteenth century. His graduation thesis, on cholera, is an example of the precise organization that would characterize his administration of the future Confederate army Medical Department. The thesis also reveals his early interest in the importance in cleanliness and disease prevention, which would cause him nearly thirty years later to insist on the restructuring of hospital wards into healthier places and the employment of medical investigators in disease outbreaks. After graduation, he established his practice in Little Rock, Arkansas.2 In March 1 835, Moore applied for a commission in the United States Army. The army surgeon general appointed him an assistant surgeon with the rank of captain. Between 1 835 and 1 845 he served on the frontier at a succession of small military posts. First stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, he served later at Fort Des Moines, Iowa; Fort Gibson, Indian Territory; Fort Coffee, Kansas; and several posts in Florida. It was when he was in Florida, that he met...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 41-56
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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