Here are some more books to read on medical officers from my collection:
For the doctors in gray I recommend three books for your use.
Letters to Laura, a confederate surgeon’s impressions of four years of war (edited by Sadye Wilson, Nancy Fitzgerald, and Richard Warwick) is published by Tunsteade Press in Nashville, TN. (ISBN 0-9616526-3-2). This book led me to visit Dr. Owen’s gravesite last time I was in Tennessee. I also portray him since his letters to his wife are so descriptive and typical of the time period. They change tone and content as the war drags on over the four years of his enlistment. I have found that his insights enable me to understand the trials and frustrations of the confederate surgeon coping with problems at home and shortages on field.
Glenn McMullen’s book The Civil War Letters of Dr. Harvey Black is published by Butternut and Blue Press in Baltimore, Md. (ISBN 0-935523-45-6) Dr. Black’s letters are from 1862 to 1864. He has interesting comments about Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and other commanders of the Army of Northern Virginia that he encounters. He was one of the two other surgeons that assisted Dr. Hunter McGuire with Generals Jackson’s arm amputation at Chancellorsville. This book gives more of a flavor of a field hospital.
For a western (trans-Mississippi) flavor, turn to I Acted From Principal: The Civil War Diary of Dr. William M. McPheeters edited by Cynthia Pitcock and Bill Gurley. Published by The University of Arkansas Press in Fayetteville, Ak. (ISBN 1-55728-725-2). Dr. McPheeters was a doctor in St Louis that was eventually driven from Missouri since he would not sign a loyalty oath, the doctor kept a daily diary, which gives new insights into the trans-Mississippi area of medical treatment during the war. A great book for surgeons from Missouri and Arkansas to use, but applicable to surgeons on both sides of the Mississippi valley south of St. Louis.
FEDERAL - WESTERN THEATRE
Surgeon on Horseback: The Missouri and Arkansas Journal and Letters of Dr. Charles Bracket of Rochester, Indiana appeared on the book shelves. The book is compiled by James W. Wheaton and published by Guild Press of Indiana, Inc. in Carmel, IN.(ISBN 1-57860-065-0). Dr. Bracket was the first medical officer I found who referenced carrying a gun. He writes his wife to send him his Colt pistol. He also describes the contents of his field knapsack in detail. His lists of wounded will help the reenactors have more accurate wounded “appear” at the field hospital. I highly recommend the book for his detail in the western theatre.
Echoes From the Letters of a Civil War Surgeon edited by Lydia Hecht (ISBN 09643441-0-6). The book was published by Bayou Publishing in 1996. Dr. Benjamin A. Fordyce was with the 160th New York. While being an eastern unit, he spent from July 1863 to July 1864 in Louisiana participating in the Red River campaign. There he was taken prisoner for 10 weeks, serving as a surgeon to the union prisoners. He was at first reported missing or killed. Later his wife learned that he was captured with the wounded and was exchanged. His letters include some replies from his wife and children, which is unusual, since most reply letters from the family did not survive the war.
“Autobiography of Silas Thompson Trowbridge, MD." introduction by John S. Haller Jr. ISBN# 0-8093-2591-8 published by Southern Illinois University Press – Carbondale in 2004. A typical certificated doctor, Dr. Trowbridge studied with another doctor in central Illinois for 14 months and then set up shop. He later went to Rush Medical College in Chicago for a four month course. He was a three month surgeon with the 8th Illinois Infantry and latter part of the reorganized three year unit. He was at Ft. Donelson and treated Gen. Logan for a gunshot wound. Later at Corinth, he treated future Illinois Governor Gen. Oglesby. Trowbridge seems to be everywhere important in the Western Theatre including Vicksburg. In August 1864 his army term of service was over but later in life he served as a US Consul at Vera Cruz, Mexico from 1869 to 1882.
FEDERAL Eastern Theatre, the following books are my recommendations for working on your eastern medical impression:
Letters From A Civil War Surgeon: Dr William Child of the Fifth New Hampshire Volunteers by Merrill Sawyer, Betty Sawyer, and Timothy Sawyer is published by Polar Bear & Company Solon, ME. (ISBN 1-882-190-63-7). Dr. Child is interesting since he was at Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Cold Harbor, and was an eyewitness to President Lincoln’s assassination in Ford’s Theatre. He wrote over 150 letters to his wife during the war. A doctor who graduated from Dartmouth, he describes to his wife Carrie that, “…war is grand – though terrible.” Starting the war as a regimental assistant surgeon, he ends the war as a divisional surgeon. These experiences give the reader a variety of perspectives as a surgeon who had many positions and roles during the war.
A Surgeon’s Civil War, The Letters & Diary of Daniel M. Holt, M.D. is edited by James Greiner, Janet Coryell and James Smither. It is published by Kent State University, Kent, OH.(ISBN 0-87338-538-1). Medical incompetency in the ranks, the new Dr. Letterman system of supplies, and regaining his horse and saddle after personally appealing to Gen. Robert E. Lee are just a few of the incidents in this book. As a country doctor, he encountered the shock of military medicine immediately in his career. His time with the 121st New York, at the age of 43, resulted in his contracting TB and dying in 1868. Fortunately for us, he put his war papers in order prior to his death.
J. Franklin Dyer: The Journal of a Civil War Surgeon edited by Michael B. Chesson is published by University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE. (ISBN 0-8032-6637-5). This 2003 book is the diary of an eastern theatre surgeon. Dr. Dyer was with the 19th Massachusetts Volunteers, surgeon in chief of the Second Division, and acting medical director of the II Corps of the Army of the Potomac. This book provides insights into the disease ridden troops of the Army of the Potomac. His descriptions of the scurvy outbreak during Peninsula campaign adds new details to the implications of disease in defeating armies during the war. Dr. Dyer also died of TB in 1875.
I'll post some more soon from my collection.!