Gangrene and Glory: Medical Care during the American Civil War

By Frank R. Freemon | Go to book overview

18
Preparing for the Final Union Campaigns

WHEN HAMMOND WAS DISMISSED FROM THE ARMY in August 1864, Joseph K. Barnes became the new surgeon general. He did not comment upon the problems of his predecessor, but immediately reorganized the Surgeon General's Office. He had already appointed a career army physician as his personal assistant. This was Charles Henry Crane, born in 1825, the son of a career army officer. After graduation from the Harvard Medical School in 1847, he joined the army. He had been the medical director of the Department of the South from June 1861 to July 1863.

When Crane was senior physician on Hilton Head Island, he was impressed with the careful medical and surgical treatment provided to the 27th Massachusetts by its surgeon, George A. Otis, who had decided to dedicate his life to military surgery after his young wife died in July 1863. Impressed with this determination, Crane arranged for Otis to join the staff of the Surgeon General's Office. Born in Boston in 1830, Otis studied medicine by apprenticeship under Dr. F. H. Deane of Richmond and graduated from the medical faculty of the University of Pennsylvania in 1851. After postgraduate study in surgery in Paris, Otis became the founding editor of the Virginia Journal of Medicine and Surgery. When he moved to Massachusetts, the editorship was taken over by James B. McCaw, who was now in charge of the Chimborazo and a leading Confederate physician.

Barnes brought in several other new people. John Shaw Billings was put in charge of the library of the Surgeon General's Office, containing some six hundred medical volumes. Born in 1838, Billings had graduated from the Medical College of Ohio in 1860. He did so well at the examination before the Army Medical Board that he received a commission in the regular army. Billings served with the Army of the Potomac; at Gettysburg, he was in charge of the hospital of the 2nd Division, Fifth Corps. Throughout most of 1864 he was an assistant to the Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac, in charge of collating statistics. In December 1864 he joined the Surgeon General's Office.

Edward Curtis, born in 1838, graduated from Harvard College and was attending the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York when the War started. He served as a medical cadet, working at the Army Medical Museum. After graduating from the medical faculty of the University of Pennsylvania in 1863, he served with the Army of the Potomac before reporting to the Surgeon General's Office to be in charge of the portion of the Army Medical Museum dealing with microscopic specimens.

Alfred Alexander Woodhull, born in 1837, graduated from the medical faculty of the University of Pennsylvania in 1859 and practiced medicine in Kansas. In September of 1861 he became a doctor with the regular army. He served as a medical inspector with the Army of the James before joining the Surgeon General's Office in late 1864. He was also assigned to catalog surgical specimens for the Medical Museum.

Several doctors remained at the Surgeon General's Office after Hammond's departure. Robert C. Wood was made the assistant sur-

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