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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Porcher’s Resources of the Southern Fields and Forests

From: waring.library.musc.edu


It is intended as a repertory of scientific and popular knowledge as regards the medicinal, economical, and useful properties of the trees, plants, and shrubs found within the limits of the Confederate States, whether employed in the arts, for manufacturing purposes, or in domestic economy, to supply a present as well as a future want.
Francis Peyre Porcher
Preface, page iii

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Francis Peyre Porcher joined the Confederate Army as a surgeon to South Carolina’s Holcombe Legion and was then transferred to the Naval Hospital at Norfolk, Virginia in March 1862. He finished his Confederate service in the South Carolina Hospital at Petersburg, Virginia. While in Virginia Porcher was “released temporarily from service in the field and hospital” [Preface, page iii], by C.S.A Surgeon General Samuel Preston Moore to write, Resources of the Southern Fields and Forests, Medical, Economical and Agricultural; Being Also a Medical Botany of the Confederate States; with Practical Information of the Useful Properties of Trees, Plants, and Shrubs, first published in Charleston in 1863. The handbook identified local plants with therapeutic qualities that could be used not only by Confederate surgeons, but planters and farmers, in place of manufactured drugs made unavailable because of the Union blockade. The handbook was of such value that a revised edition was published in 1869.

The Regimental Surgeon in the field, the Physician in his private practice, or the Planter on his estate may themselves collect and apply these substances within their reach …
Preface, page iii

Four editions of the manual were produced during the course of the war and are now available for research use at the Waring Historical Library:
1863 edition
1869 edition
1863 edition, [transcription]

1869 edition
I here introduce a notice of upwards of four hundred substances, possessing every variety of useful quality. Some will be rejected as useless, others may be found upon closer examination to be still more valuable. The most precious of all Textile Fibres, and Grains, Silks, Seeds, Oils, Gums, Caoutchouc, Resins, Dyes, Fecula, Albumen, Sugar, Vegetable Acids, Starch, Liquors, Spirit, Burning Fluid, material for making Paper and Cordage, Barks, Medicines, Wood for Tanning and the production of Chemical Agencies, for Timber, Ship-building, Engraving, Furniture, Implements and Utensils of every description--all abound in the greatest munificence, and need but the arm of the authorities or the energy and enterprise of the private citizen to be made sources of utility, profit, or beauty.
Preface, page vii-viii

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