Monday, August 24, 2015

Dr. William Whelan (1808-1865): Chief of Bureau of Medicine and Surgery


William Whelan (1808-1865) was commissioned a surgeon's mate in the Navy in 1828. He later became Fleet Surgeon of the Mediterranean Squadron and also served aboard the USS Falmouth in the Pacific.

Appointed Chief BUMED in 1853, he served until 1865, the longest tenure of anyone occupying that position before or since. He directed the Medical Department through the Civil War during which several new naval hospitals were commissioned as well as the Red Rover, the first U.S. Navy hospital ship. Dr. Whelan died in office.

Learn more about Navy medicine in the Civil War at


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