Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Medical Cadets

From: westpointcadet.webs.com

Rarely seen in images, medical cadets performed important services in the Union Army 's medical department.

More than 200 young men served the Union cause during the Civil War in a little-known organization, the U.S. Army Medical Cadet Corps. In addition to their helpful work as members of the corps, many veteran cadets continued to serve in the army's medical department. About 40 percent of them went on to become surgeons, assistant surgeons, or contact surgeons with the Federal forces. George H. Bosley was one such medical cadet.

The Medical Cadet Corps was formed by an act of Congress in August 1861. As many as 50 cadets at a time were authorized to serve a one-year term in the army as wound dressers and ambulance attendants under the supervision of medical officers. The rules stated that an applicant had to be between 18 and 22 years of age and must have studied medicine for two years and completed at least one course of lectures at a medical college. Applicants also were required to provide testimonials of their physical fitness and character. In April 1862 the corps was enlarged to 70 cadets.

The actual duties of medical cadets ranged far wider than regulations prescribed. Most cadets served in army general hospitals, where in addition to dressing wounds they assisted in operations and postmortem examinations, administered wards, and examined anatomical specimens. Officially a non-commissioned officer, a medical cadet was paid thirty dollars per month and covered for his quarters, fuel, and transportation. A daily ration was later added to his allowance. His uniform consisted of a junior officer's frockcoat with green shoulder straps adorned with a half-inch strip of gold lace, trousers with a narrow buff welt, a plain forage cap, and a non-commissioned officer's belt plate and sword.


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