Category Archives: Medical

“Swarming with maggots” – Assistant Surgeon Samuel Melcher and the Care of the Wounded at Wilson’s Creek

As the first major engagement fought west of the Mississippi River, the 1861 Battle of Wilson’s Creek (fought August 10, 1861) was known for being a particularly desperate, hard-fought battle that resulted in nearly 20% casualties on both sides. For … Continue reading

Posted in Battlefields & Historic Places, Battles, Emerging Civil War, Medical, Personalities, Primary Sources, Trans-Mississippi | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Baby at the Military Hospital

Phoebe Pember served a hospital matron in one of the wards of Chimborazo Hospital, which was one of the largest medical facilities in Richmond, Virginia. After the war, she wrote a memoir about her experiences at this Confederate hospital, and … Continue reading

Posted in Civilian, Medical | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

The Medical Department of Pennsylvania College, Gettysburg

Nestled away in the northwestern corner of the town, Gettysburg College is a small private liberal arts college (and my alma mater) with a long history. Prior to a name change in the early 1900s, the institution was known as … Continue reading

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ECW Weekender: African Americans and Civil War Medicine (Virtual Exhibit)

  While looking around for some Civil War medical records this week, I found this online exhibit focusing on African Americans and 1860’s medicine. Presented by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the virtual resources include pages focusing on Black … Continue reading

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David Laird and The Christian Commission at Gettysburg

My ongoing work about Camp Letterman General Hospital and the treatment of the wounded following the battle of Gettysburg tends not to be the most uplifting work. Though stories of resilience and healing are common, so too are stories of … Continue reading

Posted in Common Soldier, Medical, Primary Sources | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“On Whose Head Is This Blood?”: Union Colonels In Insane Asylums, Part 2

Part 1 of this article introduced a Union colonel who ended up being institutionalized after the war. He isn’t the only one who suffered this fate. This is a continuation of where it left off. 

Posted in Leadership--Federal, Medical | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

“On Whose Head Is This Blood?”: Union Colonels In Insane Asylums, Part 1

A blog post published last July explored the mental decline of Thomas W. Egan, a distinguished Union brigadier general who fought in the majority of the Army of the Potomac’s battles. Whether the direct result of war injuries, war trauma, … Continue reading

Posted in Leadership--Federal, Medical | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Weekly Whitman: “The Dresser”

Just what did Walt Whitman do in the hospitals where he worked? He was a wound dresser. The duties of the wound dresser—always a man, unless the emergency was dire—were to change bandages, hydrate wounds or operation sites, turn patients … Continue reading

Posted in Books & Authors, Medical, Personalities | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

“He Stood the Operation Like A Soldier:” Lucius Davis

When we think of the Civil War, we need to look beyond just a few individual days. We need to look beyond Manassas, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, or even Appomattox. Often, we need even to look beyond 1865. The war changed … Continue reading

Posted in Common Soldier, Medical, Memory | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

ECW on C-SPAN 3: Paige Gibbons Backus

ECW returns to C-SPAN 3’s “American History TV” this weekend. The Paige Gibbons Backus’s talk from our 2020 virtual symposium, “A Fight for Life or Death: The Carnage Found in the Medical Field During the Civil War,” debuts on Saturday … Continue reading

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