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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Civil War Medicine Timeline: The War Years (1860 - 1865)

1860

November 6: Abraham Lincoln is elected 16th President of the United States. He is the first Republican to be elected and receives 180 of 303 possible electoral votes. The popular vote is 40 percent.

December 20: the state of South Carolina secedes from the Union in protest of Lincoln’s election. The states of Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas followed suit within two months.

Five medical schools exist in the South, 27 in the North and three in the border states.

The first hospital-based medical school in the U.S., Bellevue Hospital Medical College, is established in New York.

Florence Nightingale publishes her introduction to nursing, “Notes on Nursing” in England. She is elected the first female member of the Royal Statistical Society and becomes an honorary member of the American Statistical Association.

The Nightingale Fund sets up the Nightingale Training School for nurses at St. Thomas Hospital, London.

The U.S. has about 400 dentist graduates from three dental schools, and about 5,500 dental practitioners, most trained by apprentices.

Lenoir constructs the first practical internal-combustion engine.

1861
Dr. Samuel D. Gross, prominent Philadelphia surgeon, teacher and author, publishes A Manual of Military Surgery for use by the young surgeons flocking into the army. A copy is later captured by Confederate troops and reprinted for the Southern physicians.

French neurologist Paul Broca publishes a paper detailing the relationship of damage in the brain’s left temporal lobe to loss of speech.

Congress authorizes the Surgeon General to employ women as nurses in Army hospitals. They are paid $12 per month.

The first city Board of Health is established in New York City.

January 29: Kansas becomes a state of the U.S.

February 9:  The Washington Peace Convention tries to preserve the Union, but the Congress of Montgomery, Alabama forms the Confederate States of America with South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida. West Point graduate and former U.S. Army officer Jefferson Davis is named provisional president.

February 25: Samuel Preston Moore a physician from South Carolina, resigns from the US Army. He will become Surgeon General of the Confederacy.

March 4: Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated as the 16th President of the United States.

April: April 12: At 4:30 a.m. the United States flag is fired upon at Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. General Pierre Beauregard opens fire with 50 cannons beginning the Civil War. Lincoln calls for militia to suppress the Confederacy.

April 13: Fort Sumter surrenders. John J. Chisolm, M.D. of Charleston was one of the physicians who attended the wounded at Fort Sumter. Chisolm received the first commission granted to a medical officer by the Confederacy.

April 15: The women of Bridgeport, Connecticut organize the first Ladies Aid Society.

April 15: President Lincoln issues a Proclamation calling out 75,000 state militia for assistance in retaking U.S. property that had been seized by Confederates. He calls for a special session of Congress to be held on July 4.

April 17: The State of Virginia votes for secession; President Lincoln calls for 90-day volunteers.

April 19: Union blockades Southern ports; Confederate sympathizers in Baltimore attack the 6th Massachusetts Volunteers as they are en route to defend Washington, D.C.

April 20: Robert E. Lee resigns his commission in the U.S. Army out of loyalty to his birthplace and accepts command of the naval and military forces of Virginia.

April 29: Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell organizes a meeting of socially prominent women in New York to form the Women’s Central Association of Relief of New York City. The Association soon established a program to train nurses for the Army.

May: The U.S. Sanitary Commission is formed in New York City. The Women’s Central Association of Relief becomes a part of the larger organization.

May 6: The Physicians and Surgeons of the Hospitals of New York and the New York Medical Association for Furnishing Hospital Supplies was organized in New York City.

May 15: Union Surgeon General Thomas Lawson dies at age 80. Robert C. Wood serves in the interim until Dr. Clement A. Finley is appointed Federal Surgeon-General  by President Lincoln. Robert C. Wood becomes his assistant.

May 16: Four New York representatives of the newly formed United States Sanitary Commission met with the acting surgeon-general, Dr. Robert Wood. Wood refused to allow any formal relationship between the army and the Sanitary Commission.

May 25: The War Department issues General Orders No.25, which directs state governors to appoint a surgeon and assistant surgeon for each regiment of volunteers.

June 5: Confederate Dr. Gibson requests aid from the Sisters of Charity in Emmitsburg, Maryland, to help with the sick and wounded in Richmond, Virginia.

June 9: The U.S. Sanitary Commission is approved by Federal Secretary of War Simon Cameron, who appoints nine men to serve as the first USSC commissioners.

June 10: Dorothea Dix, age 59, is appointed Superintendent of Female Nurses in the North.

June 10: Surgeon William A. Spottswood is designated as head of the Office of Medicine and Surgery by the Confederate Navy Department.

June 30: In Washington, D.C., Miss Lydia English’s Female Seminary is transformed into the “Seminary Hospital”, remaining in operation until June 14, 1865.

July: Sally Louisa Tompkins, 28, opens a hospital for Confederate soldiers in Richmond, Virginia. Using her own money she equipped a private house named Robertson Hospital and treated about 1300 patients during the war, maintaining a very low mortality rate. She was the only woman to be made an officer (captain) in the Confederate Army.

July 3: A “Committee on Military Surgery” reported to the Surgical Section of the New York Academy of Medicine on “matters of practical interest which are not discussed in the ordinary books on surgery”. They noted that, historically during war, deaths from disease far outnumbered deaths from battle wounds.   

July 11: Union General George B. McClellan engages Confederate General Robert E. Lee at Rich Mountain, Virginia (now West Virginia).

July 21: Confederate Victory at Bull Run, VA (First Battle of Bull Run—First Manassas). The Union surgeon-general chose to wait until the actual fighting began before preparing for casualties. Civilian wagons provided the only ambulance service.

July 27: General George B. McClellan is appointed commander of the Union Army, later renamed the Army of the Potomac.

July 27: The New York Times publishes an editorial protesting the “inadequate provisions” for the care of the war wounded due to the “ancient and fossilized arrangements of the Medical Department”.

July 30: Confederate President Jefferson Davis names a former U.S. Army physician from Charleston, Samuel Preston Moore, as Surgeon-General.

August: General Robert E. Lee fails to recapture Virginia’s western counties, hindered in part by an epidemic of measles among the troops.

August: Confederate Surgeon Julian John Chisolm publishes his book, A Manual of Military Surgery For the Use of Surgeons in the Confederate Army. The book went through three editions.

August 3: John H. Brinton, M.D.  and Frank H. Hamilton, M.D. are appointed Surgeon of Volunteers, U.S.A.

August 3: An Act of Congress increases the basic army food rations for soldiers.

August 5: Joseph J. Woodward, M.D. is appointed Assistant Surgeon, U.S.A.

August 10: Joseph K. Barnes, M.D. is appointed Colonel/Medical Inspector, U.S.A.

August 12: Dr. Charles Tripler is appointed medical director of the Army of the Potomac by Major General George Brinton McClellan.

August 28-29: Union forces capture Forts Hatteras and Clark, North Carolina.
September 6: Federal gunboats capture Paducah, Kentucky.

September 11-16: Cheat Mountain campaign, western Virginia.

September 16: The United States Sanitary Commission establishes its offices in the Treasury Building.

September 12-20: Siege of Lexington, Missouri.

October: A wing of the U.S. Patent Office in Washington, D.C. is transformed into the “Patent Office Hospital” and operates there until March, 1963. Patient facilities were created within the walls of the Capitol and the “Reynolds Barracks Hospital” was erected on what is now the South Lawn of the White House.

October 16: The United States Sanitary Commission establishes its central office in the U.S. Treasury Building, Washington, D.C.

October 21: Battle of Ball’s Bluff, Virginia.

November 1: General George McClellan is appointed general-in-chief, relieving General Winfield Scott.

November 7: Battle of Port Royal Sound, South Carolina, occupation of Hilton Head Island and Beaufort, South Carolina. Battle of Belmont, Missouri, the first engagement for General Ulysses S. Grant.

November 14: Volunteer relief organization the U.S. Christian Commission is formed at a convention of the YMCA’s of the Union states.

December: Frederick Law Olmstead, Executive Secretary of the U.S. Sanitary Commission, reports that upon inspection of 200 regimental hospitals, 105 were considered good, 52 were tolerable and 26 were bad.

1862
Auguste Nelaton of Paris, a French physician and surgeon, invents his “probe”, a device to determine the location of a lead bullet or other hard body in a wound.
R.J. Gatling patents a ten-barrel rapid-fire gun.

Joseph Janvier Woodward, M.D., of the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office, publishes The Hospital Steward’s Manual: For the Instruction of Hospital Stewards, Ward-Masters, and Attendants, in Their Several Duties.

The Confederate Congress passes a bill allowing for the enlistment of women into the Confederate Army as army nurses.

Susie King Taylor, born into slavery, becomes the first African-American U.S. Army nurse. She serves in a newly formed regiment of black soldiers organized under the Union’s Department of the South. In 1873 she helps to organize a branch of the Women’s Relief Corps, a national organization for female Civil War veterans.

Freedmen’s Hospital, the only federally-funded health care facility for Negroes in the country, is established in Washington, D.C.

Florence Nightingale opens a nurses’ training program at St. Thomas Hospital in London.

Union Major Jonathan Letterman devises new ambulance and hospital supply systems. They will become the basis of modern rescue and health care services.

Swiss humanist Jean Henri Dunant proposes the foundation of an international voluntary relief organization in his book “Souvenir de Solferino”. The International Red Cross would be the result.

President Lincoln brings his own supply of the anesthetic chloroform to a dental appointment.

February 6: Surrender of Fort Henry, Tennessee, to General Grant.

February 8: Union forces win Battle of Roanoke Island, North Carolina.

February 11: Union and Confederate soldiers wounded at the Battle of Fort Henry, Tennessee are sent north on the Union Army’s hospital ship City of Memphis.

February 13-16: General Grant lays siege to and accepts surrender of Fort Donelson, Tennessee.

February 15: Mary Ann “Mother” Bickerdyke assists in the removal of the wounded after the battle at Fort Donelson.

February 20: President Lincoln’s 11-year-old son, “Willie” (William Wallace Lincoln) dies. It is suspected that the cause was typhoid fever, contracted through contaminated drinking water.

February 21: Battle of Valverde, New Mexico Territory.

February 25: Union troops occupy Nashville, Tennessee.

March: General McClellan lands the Army of the Potomac on York Peninsula, Virginia.

March 6-8: Battle of Pea Ridge (Elkhorn Tavern), Arkansas.

March 8-9: Battle to a draw of the ironclad ships CSS Virginia (formerly USS Merrimac) and the USS Monitor. The battle makes clear that wooden ships are obsolete, changing naval warfare forever.

March 12: The Western Sanitary Commission establishes the first Soldiers’ Home in St. Louis, Missouri.

March 14: Union troops capture Newbern, North Carolina and New Madrid, Missouri.

March 23: Battle of Kernstown, Virginia.

March 26: Battles of Apache Canyon and Glorieta Pass, New Mexico Territory.
April 6: Siege of Yorktown, Virginia begins.

April 6-7: At the Battle of Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing), the first huge battle of the war, large 8-patient tents are issued to the U.S. Army Medical Corps for the first time, proving to be a successful installation for field hospitals. The Union troops were victorious. Of 63,000 Union troops, 13,000 were killed. Of 40,000 Confederate troops, 11,000 died.

General Grant captures Island No. 10 in the Mississippi River in Tennessee.

April 7: The U.S. Army hospital ship R.C. Wood, named for the Assistant Surgeon General, begins removing the wounded from the Battle of Shiloh.

April 14: Colonel Clement A. Finley resigns as Surgeon General, U.S. Army.
April 16: Jonathan Letterman is appointed Surgeon/Major, USA.

April 16: President Lincoln signs an Act abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia.

April 25: U.S. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton appoints 33-year-old physician William A. Hammond Surgeon-General.

April 27: Union field nurse Emma Edmonds visits soldiers in the temporary hospitals in Washington, D.C.

May: The Army Medical Museum is established by Union Surgeon-General William Hammond.

May: The first edition of Stephen Smith’s Handbook of Surgical Operations is published for the benefit of surgeons in the field.

May 2: The New York City Ladies’ Home for Sick and Wounded Soldiers opens.

May 3: Confederates evacuate Yorktown, Virginia.

May 5: Battle of Williamsburg, Virginia. There were 1,866 Union and 1,570 Confederate casualties.

May 21: Union Surgeon-General Hammond takes measures to secure more detailed and exact reports of sick and wounded, an important modification in the orders of medical officers.

May 24: General “Stonewall” Jackson’s cavalry captures a Union supply train near Winchester, Virginia. They seized the medical stores, including 1,500 cases of chloroform.

May 25: Battle of Winchester, Virginia. General “Stonewall” Jackson releases captured Union surgeons as “non-combatants”.

May 30: Confederate General Pierre Beauregard commands Confederate forces to evacuate Corinth, Mississippi, due to disease. Union General Henry Halleck enters with troops and faces the same diseases.

May 31-June 1: Battle of Fair Oaks (Seven Pines), Virginia; General Robert E. Lee assumes command of the Confederate army in Virginia.

June: Federal authorities telegraphed the Order of the sisters of Charity at Emmitsburg, Maryland, to ask the nuns to provide sisters to work as nurses in Frederick City.

June 1: 3,000 wounded soldiers from the Battle of Seven Pines are finally evacuated, mostly by rail.

June 6: Battle of Memphis, Tennessee.

June 9: Battle of Port Republic, Virginia. The Union Surgeon-General’s Office announces its intent to prepare for publication the Medical-Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion.

June 10: Union General George McClellan proposes to Confederate General Robert E. Lee that medical officers be viewed as “non-combatants” and that they not be held as prisoners of war.

June 12: General McClellan sends General Lee a copy of General Order No. 60, stating that medical officers shall not be held as prisoners of war.

June 12: The Red Rover, a captured Confederate steamer that was refitted as a hospital ship in St. Louis, is put into service at Cairo, Illinois. It carried female nurses, nuns from the order of the Sisters of the Holy Cross.

June 17: Confederate General Robert E. Lee agrees to McClellan’s plan for the neutrality of medical personnel.

June 19: McClellan sends Lee a copy of General Order No. 60. It included the statement that all medical officers held by the Federal government would immediately be released.

June 19: Jonathan Letterman, M.D. is appointed Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac. He replaces Surgeon Charles S. Tripler, who becomes Medical Inspector General of the U.S. Army.

June 25: Peninsula campaign: Seven Days’ Battles begins.

June 26: Peninsula campaign: Battle of Mechanicsville, Virginia.

June 26: Confederate General Robert E. Lee issues a General Order that all imprisoned Federal medical officers be released.

June 27: Peninsula campaign: Battle of Gaines’s Mill (First Cold Harbor), Virginia.

June 29: Peninsula campaign: Battle of Savage Station, Virginia.

June 30: Peninsula campaign: Battle of White Oak Swamp (Frayer’s Farm), Virginia.
July: The Federal surgeon-general requests the Order of the Sisters of Charity of Emmitsburg, Maryland to provide 100 sisters to work as nurses in White House, Virginia, during the Peninsula campaign.

July 1: Union Dr. Jonathan Letterman replaces Dr. Charles Tripler as medical director of the Army of the Potomac. Battle of Malvern Hill, Virginia.

July 11: Major-General Henry Halleck is named general-in-chief of the Union army.

July 14: Federal Union General William Hammond issues a directive regarding the confrontational and difficult Superintendent of Nurses, Dorothea Dix. She was to retain the authority to choose and assign nurses, but the “control and direction” of all nurses, male and female, was put under the medical officer in charge. Throughout the war, 3,214 women would serve in Dix’s corps.

August 2: Special Orders No. 147 is issued by General George B. McClellan, putting Jonathan Letterman’s ambulance plan into effect in the Army of the Potomac.

August 9: Battle of Cedar Mountain, Virginia.

August 29: Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton rejects Jonathan Letterman’s ambulance plan for adoption throughout the Union Army.

August 29-30: Confederate victory at the Battle of Second Bull Run (Second Manassas). Attempts to treat and evacuate the wounded are disorganized and chaotic.

September 1: The abandoned naval hospital at Norfolk, Virginia was reoccupied for the primary use of sailors from the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

September 7: U.S. Surgeon General Hammond writes to Secretary of State Stanton, lamenting “the scarcity of ambulances, the want of organization, the drunkenness and incompetency of the drivers, [and] the total absence of ambulance attendants.”

September 14: Battles of South Mountain and Crampton’s Gap, Maryland. At South Mountain, 1,806 Union soldiers were wounded and 443 were killed.

September 17: A Union victory at the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg), Virginia is the single bloodiest day of the war, with 23,000 casualties in 10 hours of fighting. It is estimated that 9,416 Union soldiers were wounded and 2,010 killed. Wounded Confederates totaled 16,399; 3,500 were killed. An additional 2,500 Confederate wounded were cared for primarily by Federal surgeons. Clara Barton obtained her own wagons with medical supplies and went to Antietam to provide nursing aid.

September 22: Lincoln’s “Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation” (effective January 1, 1863) declares all slaves held in the rebelling territories to be free.

October 4: Union Major Jonathan Letterman institutes a system of “brigade supplies” in the Union armies. It specifies medical supplies and transport to be issued monthly for active field service.

October 8: Battle of Perryville, Kentucky.

October 27: U.S. General Order No. 357 is issued. It emphasized that all nurses were under the control of the senior medical officers in the hospitals where they served. The order was intended to emphasize that female nurses were no longer exclusively under the control of Dorothea Dix, Superintendent of Nurses.

October 30: Jonathan Letterman, Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac, issued an order that required only the most experienced surgeons to make decisions about whether surgery should be performed on a given patient, and that only the most able surgeons assigned to perform it.

December: Union Surgeon General William Hammond writes to the heads of American medical schools to request that students be taught hygiene and military surgery.

December 1: Widow Phoebe Yates Pember, 39, became the chief matron of the Second Division at Chimborazo Hospital outside Richmond, Virginia. It was one of five divisions of what was thought to be the largest military hospital in the world.

December 13: Union forces are defeated at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia with a loss of 12,653 men. The Confederate losses total 5,309. Clara Barton provided nursing care at the Lacy House.

December 31: Battle of Stones River (Murfreesboro), Tennessee.

By late in the year, both Union and Confederate armies favored the construction of the new “pavilion hospitals”, a type of construction that continued to be used during both World Wars and the Vietnam era for temporary military hospitals.

1863
New York and Philadelphia leaders in the field of veterinary medicine meet to establish the United States Veterinary Medical Association.

Confederate physician Dr. Francis Peyre Porcher publishes his book, “Resources of the southern fields and forests . . .being also a medical botany of the Confederate States”.

A major pandemic of smallpox sweeps both armies.

The Federal Surgeon General’s office purchases the most recent innovation in microscopes, a compound automatic microscope for Dr. Joseph Janvier Woodward’s research in microscopy.

Almost all troops, North and South, are now armed with rifles.
Union Surgeon John T. Hodges devises a splint to immobilize a fractured limb, yet allow the changing of dressings.

January 1: Lincoln issues his final Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves in Confederate-held territory. It emphasizes the enlisting of black soldiers in the Union army.

January 2: Second day of the Battle of Stones River (Murfreesboro), Tennessee.

January 2: Volunteer Mrs. Mary Ann “Mother” Bickerdyke reports to the Medical Director of Memphis, Tennessee.

January 8: Mary Ann Bickerdyke organizes laundry services for the hospitals in Memphis, Tennessee.

January 9: Confederate medical services take over the Exchange Hotel in Gordonsville, Virginia, as a receiving hospital.

January 11: Union troops capture Fort Hindman, Arkansas.

February 9: Joseph K. Barnes is appointed Lieutenant Colonel/Medical Inspector, USA.

February 9: In Geneva, Switzerland, the International Committee of the Red Cross is formed. Influenced by his witness of the horrors of the Solferino battlefield, businessman Henri Dunant addressed the Geneva Society for Public Welfare and asked the members to form a volunteer society to aid wounded soldiers.

February 10: The United States Sanitary Commission establishes a Free Pension Agency to handle the pension claims of wounded soldiers. It was later renamed the Army and Navy Claim Agency.

February 13: The Western Sanitary Commission opens a Soldiers’ Home in Memphis, Tennessee.

February 24: Arizona becomes a US. Territory.

February 25: The Federal Congress passes the Conscription Act.

February 29: The Western Sanitary Commission is authorized by Major General Grant in Special Orders No. 88, Department of Tennessee, to be provided with a government-furnished steamboat to provide transportation for Sanitary Commission materials and supplies.

March 3: The National Academy of Science is founded in Washington, D.C. with the endorsement of President Lincoln.

March 4: Idaho becomes a U.S. territory.

April: The Federal Army establishes the Invalid Corps, providing less demanding roles for soldiers who were too injured or ill to return to active duty. More than 60,000 men served in the Corps.

April 3: Bread riots in Richmond, Virginia.

April 17: Union Colonel Benjamin Grierson begins a cavalry raid into Mississippi as a diversion from Major General Ulysses Grant’s main attack plan on Vicksburg, Mississippi.

May 1-4: Confederate victory at Chancellorsville, VA. General Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson is accidentally wounded by his own Confederate pickets and loses an arm to amputation. It is a mortal wound. The Union losses total 17,000 killed, wounded and missing. Confederate losses are 13,000.

May 3: Second Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia and Battle of Salem Church, Virginia.

May 10: General Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson dies of complications from pneumonia.

May 12: General Ulysses Grant attacks Raymond, Mississippi as part of the Vicksburg campaign.

May 14: The Federal Vicksburg campaign engages at Jackson, Mississippi.

May 16: Battle of Champion’s Hill, Mississippi (Vicksburg campaign).

May  17: Vicksburg campaign engages at Big Black River, Mississippi.

May 18: Siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi begins.

May 21: Siege of Port Hudson, Mississippi begins.

June 9: Cavalry Battle at Brandy Station, Virginia.

June 14-15: Second Battle of Winchester, Virginia.

June 19: Despite the written and verbal protests of Medical Director Jonathan Letterman, the transportation of the Army of the Potomac’s Medical Department is reduced to two wagons per brigade.

June 20: The western counties of Virginia did not wish to secede with the rest of the state. West Virginia becomes a state of the Union.

July: Black regiments begin active service in the Union Army. They are sometimes called “Corps d’Afrique”.

July 1-3: Union victory at Gettysburg, PA. Improved medical transport and organization are apparent. All of the 21,000 wounded from both sides are gathered from the field each night and taken to field hospitals for treatment.

July 4: Confederate defeat at Vicksburg, Mississippi.

July 7: U.S. Medical Inspector Edward P. Vollum arrives at Gettysburg and finds the need for drugs so urgent that he purchases supplies at local drugstores and sends the bills to the quartermaster.

July 10: Railroad service into Gettysburg is restored.

July 15: Medical tents finally arrive at Gettysburg. Union Dr. Henry James sets up a general hospital called “Camp Letterman”. It has six rows with 400 tents per row. Each tent housed twelve patients.

August: The Confederate Association of Army and Navy Surgeons is established with Surgeon General Moore as president.

August 10: Abolitionist Frederick Douglas meets with President Lincoln to lobby for full equality for Union “Negro troops”.

August 24: General George Meade issues General Orders No. 85 putting Jonathan Letterman’s revised regulations for the Ambulance Corps into effect in the Army of the Potomac.

September 20: Confederate victory at Chickamauga, Georgia.

October 22: Union army defeats the Confederates at Chattanooga, Tennessee.

October 27: The City of Chicago demonstrated support for the U.S. Sanitary Commission by closing, so that all its citizens could attend the huge Sanitary Fair. The purpose of the Fair was to raise funds to support the Commission’s work and send vegetables to the troops. Spearheading the organization of this first Sanitary Fair was volunteer Mary A. Livermore, a Chicago journalist.

November: Joseph Janvier Woodward, M.D. of the U.S. Surgeon General’s office, publishes Outline on the Chief Camp Diseases of the United States Army as Observed during the Present War.

November 5: Federal Army establishes Desmarres Hospital for the treatment of eye injuries, in Washington, D.C.

November 19: President Abraham Lincoln delivers a two-minute speech, his “Gettysburg Address” at the dedication of the Battlefield as a National Cemetery.

November 20: President Lincoln is diagnosed with a mild case of smallpox and is ill until mid-December.

November 23-25: Union victory at the Battle for Chattanooga, Tennessee, including Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge.

November 26: Mine Run campaign in Virginia begins.

November 29: Confederate attack on Fort Sanders at Knoxville, Tennessee.

1864
A special hospital ward for soldiers with eye injuries is set up in Forsythe, Georgia.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler, 33, becomes the first African-American woman in the United States to earn an M.D. degree. She is the first African-American woman to graduate from the New England Female Medical College.

“In God We Trust” first appears on U.S. coins.

In France, Louis Pasteur develops his germ theory of disease.

January: The first issue of the Confederate States Medical and Surgical Journal is printed and continues to be issued monthly in Richmond through March 1865.

January 11: Assistant Surgeon John Shaw Billings presents his analysis of medical department operations to the Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac.

January 14: Jonathan Letterman resigns as Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac. His replacement is Surgeon Thomas A. McParlin, U.S. Army.

January 24: Volunteer nurse Louisa May Alcott returns to her home in New England to recover from typhoid fever.

February 4: The Union Medical Director of the Department of the South was ordered to send his sick patients to the general hospital, turn in all excess medical supplies, and prepare to board steamers for the attack on Jacksonville, Florida.

February 14: Federal troops capture Meridian, Mississippi.

February 20: Battle of Olustee, Florida.

February 24: The prison at Andersonville, Georgia, called Camp Sumter, opens. It was designed for 10,000 prisoners, but by July, 1864 it held 29,998.

March 1: Congress passes a reorganization bill, making ambulance service fully operational.

March 1: Union cavalrymen attempt to assault Richmond in the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren cavalry raid, which fails.

March 3: An English branch of the United States Sanitary Commission is organized in a British tavern. Its purpose was to solicit relief funds from Americans living abroad.

March 9: Ulysses S. Grant is commissioned lieutenant general and commander of all U.S. armies. Lincoln appoints General William T. Sherman to succeed Grant as commander in the west.

March 11: U.S. Congress passes the Ambulance Corps Act in which the medical department is reorganized and Jonathan Letterman’s system is adopted throughout all the Union armies.

March 12: Beginning of the Union’s Red River campaign in Louisiana.

March 18: The United States Sanitary Commission holds a Sanitary Fair in Washington, D.C.

April 9: A medical purveying depot is established in Alexandria, Virginia, by Medical Purveyor Thomas G. McKenzie of the Army of the Potomac.

April 12: General George Meade issues Special Orders No. 197, placing the medical department of the Army of the Potomac on the same level as other staff corps.

May 4: The 1864 campaign of the Army of the Potomac begins.

May 5-6: In the Battle of the Wilderness, VA, 21,463 Union troops are wounded. The newly organized ambulance system is able to remove all of the wounded by 9pm on May 6th.

May 7: Union General W.T. Sherman begins his Atlanta campaign against Confederate General Joseph Johnston.

May 8: Union Surgeon J.C. Norton reports on cases of night blindness among troops. Confederate physician Robert Hicks reported on the same phenomena. The malady was caused by a lack of vitamin A, obtained mostly from fresh vegetables.

May 8-12: Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia. Union wounded totaled 19,678.

May 12: Confederates evacuate Dalton, Georgia in the Atlanta campaign.

May 14-15: Battle of Resaca, Georgia of the Atlanta campaign.

May 15: Battle of New Market, Virginia.

May 15: Federal orders are given to establish a prison camp at Elmira, New York. It came to be considered the worst of the Federal prisons. In all, 12,123 Confederate prisoners were sent to Elmira. Of those, 2,963 died there.

May 16: Battle of Dewry’s Bluff, Virginia.

May 18-19: Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia experiences more fighting.

May 23-26: Battle of North Anna River, Virginia.

May 31-June 3: Battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia.

May 31: The Ambulance Corps of the Army of the Potomac consists of 620 ambulances, 40 medicine wagons, 174 army wagons, 15 forges, 1,882 horses, 870 mules, 767 stretchers, 57 officers and 2,092 enlisted men.

June: The U.S. Army adopts the “Autenrieth Wagon” for the transport of drugs, surgical tools and supplies. The Autenrieth Wagon was displayed in Paris, France, at the 1867 World’s Fair.

The Union Naval blockade creates severe medical supply shortages for the South. Jefferson Davis has the Confederate Congress pass a law requiring that blockade runners’ cargoes consist of at least 50% government supplies.

June 3: By orders of Acting Surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes, Lincoln General Hospital in Washington, D.C. is designated for the care of wounded Confederate soldiers.

June 14: In a U.S. Sanitary Commission sponsored-lecture at the Smithsonian Institution, Parisian physician Dr. Charles Edouard Brown-Sequard introduced his experience with the revolutionary technique of blood transfusion.

June 14: Battle of Pine Mountain, Georgia. The Army of the Potomac crosses the James River.

June 16-18: Siege of Petersburg, Virginia begins.

June 23: Siege of Petersburg: Engagement at Weldon Railroad.

June 27: Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia in the Atlanta campaign.

July 9: Battle of Monocacy, Maryland.

July 11: Confederate General Jubal Early is stopped at Fort Stevens in the Washington suburbs.

July 13: Confederate agents torch Barnum American Museum and Astor House in an unsuccessful attempt to burn New York City.

July 14: Battle of Tupelo (Harrisburg), Mississippi.

July 17: General John Bell Hood replaces General Joseph E. Johnston as commander of the Confederate Army in Tennessee.

July 20: Atlanta campaign: Battle of Peachtree Creek, Georgia.

July 22: Atlanta campaign: Battle of Atlanta, Georgia.

July 28: Atlanta campaign: Battle of Ezra Church, Georgia.

July 30: Siege of Pettersburg: Battle of the Crater (mine explosion).

August 2: Confederate Col. Daniel T. Chandler inspects the prison at Andersonville and finds 15 doctors caring for 5,010 prisoners.  An additional 1,305 prisoners are in the prison hospital. Chandler calls the prison “a disgrace to civilization”.

August 6: Isaiah H. White, chief surgeon of the prison at Andersonville, submits a request for better hospital facilities, food, medicine and sanitary facilities.

August 18: William A. Hammond is convicted in a court-martial and removed as Federal surgeon-general.

August 18-19: Siege of Petersburg: Battle of Weldon Railroad, Virginia.

August 22: Dr. Joseph K. Barnes is officially appointed Surgeon General, U.S. Army, with the rank of Brigadier General.

August 22: In Geneva, Switzerland, the representatives of 12 nations agreed to sign the First Geneva Contention “for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field”. Twenty countries had signed by 1866.

August 23: Desmarres Hospital, the Federal specialty Eye and Ear Hospital is moved from Washington, D.C. to Chicago, Illinois. It had 150 beds.

August 25: Siege of Petersburg: Battle of Reams Station, Virginia.

August 30: William A. Hammond, M.D., Surgeon General, is dismissed from the U.S. Army.

August 30: George A. Otis, M.D. is appointed Surgeon of Volunteers, U.S.A.

August 31: Atlanta campaign: Battle of Jonesboro, Georgia.

September: Yellow fever epidemic in New Bern, North Carolina.

September 1: Confederates evacuate Atlanta, Union forces occupy the city.

September 2: Sherman’s army captures Atlanta.

September 19: Third Battle of Winchester (Opequon Creek), Virginia.

September 23: Battle of Fisher’s Hill, Virginia.

September 29-October 2: Battle of Peeble’s Farm and Chaffin’s Bluff (Fort Harrison), Virginia.

October 5: Engagement at Altoona, Georgia.

October 9: Engagement at Tom’s Brook, Virginia.

October 19: Union victory by Cavalry General Phillip H. Sheridan at the Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia; Confederate raid on St. Albans, Vermont.

October 23: Battle of Westport, Missouri.

October 27: Engagement at Burgess Mill (Boydton Plank Road), Virginia.

October 26-29: The Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded Soldiers of Armies in the Field, commonly known as The Geneva Convention, in Switzerland, establishes the neutrality of battlefield medical facilities.

November 8: Abraham Lincoln is re-elected President of the United States. Soldiers in the Army gave him 70 percent of their vote.

November 16: Union General William Tecumseh Sherman begins his “March to the Sea”.

November 21: General John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee begins a march north to Tennessee.

November 30: General Hood attacks General George Henry Thomas in the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee.

December 13: Sherman’s forces capture Fort McAllister, near Savannah, Georgia.

December 15-16: General Hood attacks General Thomas in Battle of Nashville, Tennessee.

December 20: Sherman captures Savannah, Georgia.

December 24-25: Federal attacks on Fort Fisher, near Wilmington, North Carolina.
Near the end of the war, the Confederate Army establishes a hospital for the treatment of eye injuries at Athens, Georgia, under the command of Surgeon Bolling A. Pope.

1865
Joseph Lister of Scotland initiates antiseptic surgery by using carbolic acid on a compound wound and introduces phenol as a disinfectant in surgery, reducing the surgical death rate from 45 to 15 percent.

Austrian Gregor Mendel publishes his first experiments in genetics.

January 13-15: Union troops capture Fort Fisher, North Carolina.

January 19: General Sherman begins a march north into the Carolinas.

January 24: Prisoner exchanges between the two armies resume.

January 31:  The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, abolishing slavery, is approved by the U.S. Congress and submitted to the states for ratification.

February 3: Clara Barton wrote a letter to President Lincoln requesting the authority and endorsement for her to act as temporary general correspondent for letters to and from recently exchanged prisoners of war.

February 5-7: Siege of Petersburg: Battle of Hatcher’s Run, Virginia.

February 6: Confederate President Jefferson Davis appoints General Robert E. Lee General-in-Chief of Confederate Army.

February 17: General Sherman’s forces capture and burn Columbia, South Carolina, Confederate forces evacuate Charleston.

February 17: The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley makes a daring and successful night attack on the USS Housatonic. The Hunley survived the attack, although she foundered and sank on the return from the mission.

February 18: The mayor of Charleston, South Carolina surrenders the city to Union general Alexander Schimmelfennig. Union troops retake control of the United States Arsenal.

March 3: An Act of Congress creates the National Asylum.

March 4: President Lincoln delivers his second inaugural address at his second inauguration.

March 11: President Lincoln appoints Clara Barton to the post she had requested: of temporary general correspondent for letters to and from recently exchanged prisoners of war.

April 2: Extensive Confederate medical records gathered during the war are destroyed in the Richmond, Virginia fire that destroyed many government offices.
Siege of Petersburg ends as General Lee removes troops; Richmond is evacuated.

April 3: Fire begins in Richmond around 3a.m.; Federal troops enter the city later in the day.

 April 3: Richmond, VA surrenders to General Grant.

April 4: President Lincoln tours Richmond. He visits the Confederate White House and sits for a few moments at the desk of Jefferson Davis.

April 5: President Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William H. Seward sustained multiple injuries in a carriage accident. One of his most serious injuries was a broken jaw. Unsuccessful attempts to hold the jaw together were made by the attending surgeons.

April 9: Confederate States of America formally surrender. General Robert E. Lee surrenders the Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House.

April 12: Surrender of Mobile, Alabama.

April 14: President Abraham Lincoln is shot in the head at close range by John Wilkes Booth in Ford’s Theater, Washington, D.C.

April 15: President Lincoln dies at 7:22 a.m. He is succeeded as president by Andrew Johnson.

April 18: In Durham, North Carolina, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston surrenders to General Sherman.

April 26: The Army of Tennessee surrenders to General Sherman near Durham, North Carolina.

April 26: In Virginia, John Wilkes Booth is shot and killed inside a tobacco barn.

April 29: Secretary of State William Seward’s broken jaw is attended by dentist Dr. Thomas Bryan Gunning. Gunning’s innovative interdental splint was used to treat the injury. Ann almost identical vulcanite splint was developed at the same time by another dentist, Confederate Dr. James Baxter Bean. 

May 4: General Richard Taylor’s forces surrender at Citronelle, Alabama.

May 4: The body of President Abraham Lincoln is laid to rest in Oak Ridge Cemetery, outside of Springfield, Illinois.

May 10: Confederate President Jefferson Davis is captured at Irwinsville, Georgia, by the Fourth Michigan cavalry and imprisoned.

May 12: Engagement near Palmito Ranch, Brownsville, Texas.

May 23-24: A victory parade, the Grand Review of the Army of the Potomac and Sherman’s army, is held in Washington, D.C. to help boost the nation’s morale.

May 23: Volunteer Mary Ann (“Mother”) Bickerdyke, was famous during the war for her work procuring equipment and supplies, and the establishment of camp and hospital kitchens and laundries. Her beloved troops insisted that she accompany them during the Army’s Grand Review, and she rode in the parade in an ambulance wagon.

May 26: U.S. Civil War ends with the surrender of the last Confederate Army, the Army of Trans-Mississippi at Shrevesport, Louisiana.

June 12: Chief of the Federal Medical Bureau William Whelan is succeeded by Phineas J. Horowitz.

July 5: Elmira Prison in New York was closed. It was demolished in August.
September 27: The last patient left Elmira Prison hospital and the facility closed.

November 10: Captain Henry Wirz, the notorious superintendent of the Confederate prison at Anderson, Georgia, is executed by hanging after his trial by a military commission.

December 6: The 13th Amendment to the Constitution is officially ratified, abolishing slavery.

December 18: Secretary of State William Seward proclaims the 13th Amendment to the Constitution to be officially adopted.

December 24: The Ku Klux Klan is founded in Pulaski, Tennessee.

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson begins her practice as Britain’s first female doctor. She was refused admittance to medical schools and qualified via the Society of Apothecaries.

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