Medical Histories of Confederate Generals

Medical Histories of Confederate Generals

Medical Histories of Confederate Generals

Medical Histories of Confederate Generals

Synopsis

From official records, personal letters, and postwar memoirs, Jack D. Welsh, M.D., has compiled the medical histories of 425 Confederate generals.

Welsh does not attempt to analyze the effects of an individual's medical problems on a battle or the war, but whenever possible provides information about factors that may have contributed to the wound, injury, or illness, and the outcome. He also details the immediate care, logistics of transportation, timing of operations, and the remedies used or recommended by the physicians, when such data is available.

This insight into the lives of men who often paid a high price for the Confederacy will prove fascinating for physicians, historians of medicine, and students of the Civil War.

Excerpt

Ezra J. Warner stated in his preface to his book Generals in Gray that his "interest was aroused" by reading Douglas Southall Freeman's Lee's Lieutenants. the idea to research medical-related material for this book was also stimulated by reading this three-volume study. Freeman's books, dealing with the command structure of the Army of Northern Virginia, frequently mention the absence of various offices because of wounds or illness, and the influence of the resulting changes in command on the military events. in pursuing my interest in the Civil War, it soon became apparent how little was recorded about these medical occurrences, and how difficult it was to find specific details. It was not clear why some men who had sustained a "severe" wound reappeared on the field in a few days or weeks, whereas others who had received a "slight" wound might not reappear. the types of wounds and how they were cared for were usually not mentioned. What specifically were the medical illnesses and how were they treated? Historians writing about the period often did not mention that a particular officer on the field was sick or had an unhealed wound. in other instances, medical events or interpretations have been reiterated without verification. As a physician, my interest was spurred by the paucity of information and inconsistencies. Consequently, I set out to compile a reference source on the medical histories (wounds, illness, accidents, and causes of death) of the 425 men described in Warner's Generals in Gray. This population was chosen originally on the basis of well-defined criteria, and it included Confederate officers of most interest to students of the period.

Because this work represents a collection of medical histories, to include just the events that occurred during the Civil War would provide an incomplete story and be poor medical practice. Therefore, I attempted to find out as much as possible about all medical incidents in the life of each individual. To the reader, some events by themselves may appear inconsequential or extraneous, but they are recounted because they reflect the health of the individual and are a part of his medical history. in addition, a minimum of nonmedical information concerning civilian and military careers is included to further flesh out each man's medical story. Even if medical facts were not available, I include the individual in order to document that a search of all the usual sources has been made.

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