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Some Information on the Confederate Medical Department:

FORMATION OF THE MEDICAL CORPS OF THE CONFEDERATE ARMY AND NAVY.

(from Southern Historical Society Papers., Vol. XX., Richmond, Va., January-December. 1892. The Medical History Of The Confederate States Army And Navy)

The entire army of the Confederate States was made up of volunteers from every walk of life, and the surgical staff of the army was composed of general practitioners from all parts of the Southern country whose previous professional life, during the period of unbroken peace which preceded the civil war, 1861-'65, gave them but little surgery, and very seldom presented a gunshot wound. The study of the hygiene of vast armies hastily collected to repel invasion, poorly equipped and scantily fed, as well as the frightful experience of the wounded upon the battle-field, and the horrible sufferings of the sick and wounded in the hospital, unfolded a vast field for the exercise of the highest skill and loftiest patriotism of the medical men of the South. This body of men, devoted solely to the preservation of the health of the troops in the field, and the preservation of their precious lives, and the surgical care of their mangled bodies and limbs, and the treatment of their diseases in field and general hospital, responded to every call of their bleeding country, and formed upon land and upon sea one indivisible corps, which penetrated all arms of the service, and labored for every soldier, however exalted or however low his rank. When the storm of war suddenly broke upon the Confederacy, and the thunders of cannon were heard around her borders, and her soil trembled with the march of armed battalions; when her ports were blockaded, and medicines and surgical instruments and works were excluded as contraband of war, the medical practitioners of the South gave their lives and fortunes to their country, without any prospect of military or political fame or preferment. They searched the fields and forests for remedies; they improvised their surgical implements from the common instruments of every day life; they marched with the armies, and watched by day and by night in the trenches. The Southern surgeons rescued the wounded on the battle-field, binding up the wounds, and preserving the shattered limbs of their countrymen; the Southern surgeons through four long years opposed their skill and untiring energies to the ravages of war and pestilence. At all times and under all circumstances, in rain and sunshine, in the cold winter and the burning heat of summer, and the roar of battle, the hissing of bullets and the shriek and crash of shells, the brave hearts, cool heads and strong arms of Southern surgeons were employed but for one purpose--the preservation of the health and lives and the limbs of their countrymen. The Southern surgeons were the first to succor the wounded and the sick, and their ears recorded the last words of love and affection for country and kindred, and their hands closed the eyes of the dying Confederate soldiers. When the sword decided the cause against the South, and the men who had for four years borne the Confederacy upon their bayonets surrendered prisoners of war. the members of the Medical Corps of the Confederate Army and Navy returned to their desolate homes and resumed the practice of their profession, spoke words of cheer to their distressed countrymen, administered to the sufferings of the sick and wounded Confederate soldiers, and extended their noble and disinterested charities to the widows and orphans of their bereaved and distressed country.

Whilst political soldiers rose to power and wealth upon the shoulders of the sick and disabled soldiers of the Confederate army, by sounding upon all occasions "their war records," the modest veterans of the Medical Corps of the Confederate Army and Navy were content to serve their sick, wounded and distressed comrades, asking and receiving no other reward than that "peace which passeth all understanding," which flows from the love of humanity, springing from a generous and undefiled heart. It is but just and right that a Roll of Honor should be formed of this band of medical heroes and veterans.


USCivilWar.Net wants to thank Jenny Goellnitz for compiling this information.
jgoellnitz@yahoo.com