Academic journal article Military Review

The Army Medical Department, 1865-1917

Academic journal article Military Review

The Army Medical Department, 1865-1917

Article excerpt

THE ARMY MEDICAL DEPARTMENT, 1865-1917, by Mary C. Gillett. 517 pages. Center of Military History, Washington, D.C. (Available from the Superintendent of Documents, US Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.) 1996. 534.00.

"The education of line officers in the responsibilities of the medical officer and the work of medical units was also vital." With this comment, Dr. Mary C. Gillett best describes her book's relevance to every US Army officer.

Gillett has written two previous excellent histographies of the Army Medical Department (AMEDD), which cover 1775 to 1818 and 1818 to 1865.

Both are fact-filled, readable accounts of the trials to organize a medical service and provide medical support during conflicts. This third volume goes a step further, just as AMEDD did between 1865 and 1917.

From 1865 to 1893, AMEDD was unremarkable except for writing its Civil War medical history. Some organizational advances were made, but doctors were still ignorant of many disease causes. The December 1890 battle of Wounded Knee closed out this era. Wounded Knee was the last battle where America's wounded were treated without a full understanding of germ theory and was the first battle where the benefits of a trained medical corps were proved.

May 1893 formally began AMEDD's dramatic growth with the appointment of Brigadier General George Sternberg as the surgeon general. Sternberg was a scientist, and his success was in recognizing and supporting AMEDD's budding and polished scientists..

The primary targets for many AMEDD scientist-doctors were the Army-destroying diseases. …

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