Lincoln's Fifth Wheel: the Political History of the United States Sanitary Commission

By William Quentin Maxwell; Allan Nevins | Go to book overview

Biographical Notes

Cornelius Rea Agnew ( 1830-88), born in New York, received his M.D. from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1852. After a period of study abroad he was appointed surgeon at New York's Eye and Ear Infirmary in 1856. State surgeon general in 1858, Agnew directed the New York State Hospital for Volunteers before the outbreak of war. Along with Drs. Gibbs and Van Buren he helped establish the Judiciary Square Hospital, the model of pavilion hospitals. In the Sanitary Commission his opinion carried weight, although Olmsted thought little of Agnew's executive ability. In New York clinics and hospitals he advanced specialization in eye, ear, nose, and throat, inventing new instruments and operative procedures. From 1869 until his death Agnew taught classes in diseases of the eye and ear at the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Godfrey Aigner, a German physician, had had experience in European military camps. He came to the Sanitary Commission from the New York City Dispensary to take the post at Cairo. Spring campaigns in 1862 brought a swamp of work as the sick poured into military hospitals. Aigner's single efforts were "too lilliputian" to produce satisfactory results. Chicago credited him with having first suggested floating hospitals; these were to keep pace with gunboats on the Southern waters.

Alexander Dallas Bache ( 1806-67), a native of Philadelphia, was graduated from West Point in 1825. He resigned from the army in 1828, when he accepted the professorship of natural philosophy and chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. As president of Girard College ( 1836) he was sent abroad for two years to study educational institutions. His report, Education in Europe ( 1839), furnished the basis for reorganizing Philadelphia's public school system. In 1843 Bache was appointed superintendent of the United States Coast Survey, a position held until his death; in 1846 he was chosen regent of the Smithsonian

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