Medical Histories of Union Generals

Medical Histories of Union Generals

Medical Histories of Union Generals

Medical Histories of Union Generals

Synopsis

Information concerning the medical histories of most Union generals is hard to find and poorly documented. Jack D. Welsh, professor emeritus of medicine at the University of Oklahoma, has examined the medical events that occurred not only during the Civil War but throughout the lives of 583 Union generals. Previously unpublished material from letters, diaries, West Point cadet records, and applications for retirement or a pension provided new additional data and clarification of many medical events, as well as information on their outcome. A number of men had suffered from medical events before the war and three joined the army missing an arm and one missing a leg. During the Civil War, the majority of these Union generals were afflicted by disease, injured by accidents, or suffered wounds. Following the war, they frequently continued to be afflicted by disease and the effects of unhealed wounds. Medical Histories of Union Generals includes a glossary of medical terms as well as a sequence of medical events,during the Civil War listing wounds, accidents, and deaths.

Excerpt

While reading about the Civil War, I noted the frequent wounds, illness, and accidents that occurred to various officers. Medical events were usually mentioned because they caused an officer to leave the field or prompted a change in command. Such references contain few details, have little documentation, and provide no long-term outcome data. As a physician, I wanted to know more about these men, the details of their medical problems, and the outcome of their conditions. As was the case with the Medical Histories of the Confederate Generals, this book was prompted by my difficulties in finding details of such events that occurred during the lives of the Union generals. Only by examining each man's complete medical history can one begin to comprehend the possible effects of such experiences. As a consequence, this compilation of medical events that occurred to the Union generals provides information on a different aspect of their lives and the medicine of the period.

The 583 Union generals included in this volume were those who had met the defined criteria for inclusion by Ezra J. Warner in his book, Generals in Blue. As a consequence, they were selected as to who they were and their possible importance to the history of the period rather than because they were known to have been patients.

Since to document only what occurred to them during the Civil War would be incomplete, lifetime medical histories and causes of deaths are presented. Certain information is included because of its possible etiologic importance. For example, attendance at West Point and service in Mexico and Florida along with frontier duties are mentioned because they demonstrate prior exposure to infectious diseases, familiarity with wounds, and possible preexisting conditions. Attention is paid to their degree of being in harm's way at the time they were wounded, the type of projectile, transportation from the field, and treatment, rather than to their location on the battlefield or the units involved. Certain information may appear to be insignificant but is included because it forms part of the man's complete medical history. To put the recorded events in context, a minimal amount of information on their civilian and military careers has been included. I have not speculated how their medical problems might have affected their performance or the war, as this is better left to trained military historians. However, even a brief . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.