Civil War Hospital Ship

The U.S.S. Red Rover, a captured Confederate vessel, was refitted as a hospital ship.

Evolution of Civil War Nursing

The evolution of the nursing profession in America was accelerated by the Civil War.

The Practice of Surgery

Amputations were the most common surgery performed during the Civil War.

Army Medical Museum and Library

Surgeon-General William Hammond established The Army Medical Museum in 1862. It was the first federal medical research facility.

Civil War Amputation Kit

Many Civil War surgical instruments had handles of bone, wood or ivory. They were never sterilized.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

“Soldiers Heart” How the Civil War Impacted Soldiers During & After

By Chris, July 9, 2013

Part I
During and after the Civil War surgeons began looking closely at a medical condition that affected some soldiers; what we today know as PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). It was sometimes first referred to as “melancholy” or “nostalgia” during the war. Then when surgeon Jacob Mendes Da Costa observed symptoms that he classified as a heart issue, which came be to known as “Da Costa’s syndrome,” an idiom developed known as “soldier’s heart” as the description.

In 1871 Da Costa did a study of 300 Civil War veterans that showed there were physical symptoms that he and others associated with combat fatigue. These symptoms persisted in soldiers even after the war. This leads me to the point that soldiers who suffered from PTSD during and after the war really has not received the attention it deserves.

In June 1864, Captain H.L. Patten, of the 20th Massachusetts described mass demoralization and perhaps cases of battle fatigue.

"[The men] have been so horribly worked and badgered that
they are utterly unnerved and demoralised. They are easily
scared as a timid child at night. Half our brigade were
taken prisoners the other day, in the middle of the day, by
a line no stronger than themselves, without firing a shot.
You had a campaign of one day, we of fifty-three days; EVERY
DAY under fire, every night either digging or marching. We,
our brigade, have made fourteen charges upon the enemy’s
breastworks, although at last no amount of urging, no heroic
example, no threats, or anything else, could get the line to
STIR ONE PEG. For my own part, I am utterly tired and dis-
heartened and if I stay at all, it will be like a whipt dog
–because I think I must."

Another leading proponent of mental health during and after the war was surgeon general William Alexander Hammond who wrote "A Treatise on insanity in its medical relations" after the war and noted the impact of battle on “young” and impressionable soldiers, he believed suffered the most. The idea that nostalgia played a significant role was not uncommon as some even believed that after combat soldiers hardened and did not experience further symptoms. Even during the war, some surgeons in various ways considered the condition to be a defect in the rural soldiers or young soldiers who could not adapt to the conditions of soldiering.

However, insanity was a diagnosis during the war that resulted in many soldiers being discharged and even ending up in insane asylums. By World War I battle fatigued (PTSD) was being investigated by Thomas William Salmon who also studied Civil War soldiers and their presence in Insane Asylums.

During the war Richard A. Gabriel of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees and one of the foremost chroniclers of PTSD noted that during 1863 “the number of insane soldiers simply wandering around was so great, there was a public outcry.” As a result the first military hospital for the insane was established that same year, and records for insane soldier’s had already been gathered as early as 1862.

Part II
As noted in Part I, during the Civil War conditions such as “melancholy” and “nostalgia” first appeared as a medical condition in the military surgeon’s reports. According to at least one study, “three cases of nostalgia per 1,000 troops per year were reported among Union soldiers” and most of the soldiers were less than 20 years of age. This led to Surgeon General William A. Hammond in 1862 recommending that the minimum age of new recruits be fixed at 20 years. As noted, surgeons felt that either the age of the soldier or the location of enlistment (rural soldiers from small communities apparently were prominent in the study) were triggers to possible neurosis.

Hammond wrote: “The best means of preventing nostalgia is to provide occupation both for the mind and the body … soldiers placed in hospitals near their homes are always more liable to nostalgia than those who are inmates of hospitals situated in the midst of or in the vicinity of the army to which they belong.”

From 1861 to 1865 the Union Army officially recognized 2,600 cases of “insanity” and 5,200 cases of “nostalgia” requiring hospitalization at Government Hospitals. During the Civil War approximately 200,000 Union soldiers deserted and some could also have qualified for some type of “nostalgia” diagnosis. Additionally, there were 160,000 cases of “constipation”, however, later the diagnosis was changed to “precombat syndrome.” Yet another study found that during the war 5213 cases of “nostalgia” during the first year alone, with the rate increasing in following years. Finally, this study also showed that 6 out of every 1000 men were discharged for “insanity.”

Fifty years later “nostalgia” would be called “combat exhaustion” and then “battle fatigue.” After the war the rate of soldier’s being diagnosed with some form of psychological disorder will be part of our next focus on Part III. However, what should be noted, is that during and after the war surgeons found no significant increase in the rate of insanity among the civilian population.


A Good Caning


The place, the Senate Chamber, Washington D.C., Date May 22nd 1856.

One day after Senator Sumner had finished his speech, he addressed himself to the absent Senator Andrew Butler of South Carolina, basically saying that Butler was a spokesman for slavery, which he called a crime against nature. And other comments such as, "He has chosen a mistress to whom he has made his vows and who, though ugly to others, is always lovely to him; though polluted in the sight of the world, is chaste in his sight, I mean the Harlot - Slavery".

There was quite a bit more of this, ranging from Senator Butler to Ancient Egyptians.

But back to May 22nd. The Chamber where the Senate met was nearly empty, a few Senators lounged near the doors or worked at desks.

Sumner scribbled away at his desk, then realised that someone was standing beside him.

"I have read your speech twice over, carefully. It is a libel on South Carolina, and Senator Butler, who is a relative of mine."

Then the man raised a walking stick high and brought it down hard on Senator Sumner's head. The man with the cane was South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks, nephew to Senator Butler, a youthful six-footer of robust frame - sometime cavalryman in the Mexican War.

He struck again and again, a man who saw it said, "like a dragoon using his sabre".

Caught between the chair and the immovable desk, Sumner tried to get up. He was heard to gasp "Oh Lord!" Then with a great convulsive heave, he wrenched the desk loose from its fastenings and reeled to his feet. Brooks struck again, the cane broke, so he clubbed him with the splintered butt.

Sumner was now on the floor with blood on both head and clothing, while men ran down the aisle to him. Brooks stopped beating him and strolled away saying "I did not intend to kill him but I did intend to whip him!

Sumner was helped to his feet and led to a sofa in the lobby. He lay half unconscious as a doctor was called and his wounds dressed. The doctor said afterwards that the wound did not seem very severe.

A carriage took him back to his rooms and his own doctor was sent for, who ordered Sumner to bed. He pronounced Sumner's condition most serious. There was much argument then and later. For three years he did not return to the Senate Chamber. He travelled to England and France for medical treatments. His spine had been affected the foreign specialists told him, and for a long time he walked and talked like a man who had had a partial stroke.

Many considered Sumner a tragic martyr and there is no doubt that his caning on the floor of the US Senate made some people reason in the North that the slave power (it would be said), could not be reasoned with.

Young Brooks would be a hero in the South. Innumerable gifts of canes, one which bore the plate 'Hit him again'.

Sadly he did not have long to live. Within a year he would die of a bronchial infection. In the days left to him, he grew heartily sick of the kind of fame he had won, for he did not like to be considered a bully. He was a friendly, warmhearted man of good family. He had grown up in a society in which a man might be held to render physical account for any words he had used (e.g. Duels). He would have challenged Sumner to a duel, he said, if he had had any notion that the man would accept, but since he knew he would not, he felt obliged to use either cane or a horsewhip.

 Violence in Kansas, violence in the Senate Chamber. Men were making their choices. The time for talking was fast running out. The storm that was the Civil War was coming.

Pvt. A B Spencer, 1st Maryland Inf.
Extracts from This Hallowed Ground by Bruce Catton.
The above article appeared in the ACWS Newsletter, June 2000

President Lincoln's Jewish Doctor

By Jennifer Schuessler, March 19, 2015

ON Sept. 20, 1862, Abraham Lincoln had a lot on his mind. The Civil War was raging, and just days later he would issue the preliminary draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Still, the weary president found time to sit down to write a testimonial to his podiatrist.

“Dr. Zacharie has, with great dexterity, taken some troublesome corns from my toes,” Lincoln wrote. “He is now treating me, and I believe with success, for what plain people call back-ache. We shall see how it will end.”

The story may seem like the beginning of an ill-advised borscht belt meets Corn Belt joke. But in fact it’s one of the more unexpected vignettes presented in a serious new exhibition, “Lincoln and the Jews,” which opens on Friday at the New-York Historical Society.

The show includes about 100 letters, photographs and other artifacts, many never previously exhibited, drawn largely from the Shapell Manuscript Collection, assembled by the collector and philanthropist Benjamin Shapell.

Arranged chronologically, the exhibition presents the broader story of Lincoln’s political career and the Civil War through what organizers say is a fresh prism: Lincoln’s complex and sometimes surprising interactions with a religious minority that was beginning to claim an equal place in American life.

“Lincoln played an important role in turning Jews from outsiders in America to insiders,” said Jonathan D. Sarna, a historian at Brandeis University and the author, with Mr. Shapell, of the new, separately published book “Lincoln and the Jews,” which inspired the show. “It’s a subject that has really been overlooked.”

Lincoln’s lifetime coincided with a dramatic increase in America’s Jewish population, which grew from about 3,000 in 1809, the year of his birth, to roughly 150,000 in 1860. Growing up in the Midwest, he probably encountered few or no Jews in person until he became a young man. But at a time when anti-Semitism and nativism ran high, the show notes, there is no evidence of Lincoln harboring any animus toward Jews.

“When it came to personal interactions with Jews or issues that had an impact on Jews, Lincoln did the right thing on every occasion,” Harold Holzer, a prominent Lincoln scholar and the exhibition’s chief historian, said in an interview.

He added, “The most important thing you could be to Lincoln wasn’t a Christian or a Jew, but a Republican.”

The exhibition opens with a wall-size graphic laying out “Lincoln’s Jewish Connections” in concentric circles of decreasing intimacy, from “friends” (five) to “appointments and pardons” (48), seemingly leaving no stone unturned. The first known photograph of Lincoln with a beard, a label notes, was taken by a Jewish photographer from Illinois, Samuel Alschuler. (That photo, along with a beardless one also taken by Alschuler, is displayed in a vitrine mimicking a 19th-century box camera.) Jews were also responsible for helping organize his first inaugural ball, telegraphing the official text of the Emancipation Proclamation and designing the Lincoln penny.

Lincoln also counted Jews among his closest political allies. Two sections of the exhibition are devoted to Abraham Jonas, an Illinois businessman and politician he met around 1843. Jonas — “one of my most valued friends,” Lincoln once wrote — was among those who strongly encouraged Lincoln to run for president, suggesting a strategy of appealing to outsiders, including “liberal and freethinking Germans” and “Israelites.” It was also Jonas who, in a December 1860 letter included in the show, warned Lincoln of a plot to assassinate him at his inauguration.

As president, Lincoln took some bold actions on behalf of Jews. In 1862, he approved legislation creating the first Jewish military chaplains, to serve the nearly 7,000 Jews in the Union Army. He also appointed an Orthodox Jew as a quartermaster, noting that “we have not yet appointed a Hebrew.” (Eventually, some 50 Jews would fill that capacity.)

When Gen. Ulysses S. Grant issued his infamous General Orders No. 11 in 1862, barring Jews “as a class” from all territories under his control because he thought they were smuggling cotton, Lincoln quickly rescinded it.

“I do not like to hear a class or nationality condemned on account of a few sinners,” Lincoln reportedly said.

Lincoln’s commitment to religious pluralism even held in grisly moments. When five deserters were executed at Beverly Ford, Va., in August 1863, each was accompanied by a clergyman of his own faith, with a Jewish prisoner marching out first in accordance with Judaism’s status as “the most ancient of religious creeds,” as one news account put it.

And then there was Lincoln’s relationship with the eccentric, British-born Issachar Zacharie. The chiropodist, as a foot doctor was known at the time, scored a cameo in Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” — as well as an entry in the online resource PodiaPaedia. But his story, Mr. Sarna said, is told in full in the book for the first time.

Zacharie first treated Lincoln in 1862, on the recommendation of the editor William Cullen Bryant and others. Their relationship was celebrated in an “Ode to Dr. Zacharie” published that year in Vanity Fair, then a humorous weekly. (The first line: “King of Chiropodists, salaam!”) In early 1863, Lincoln sang the doctor’s praises to a (gentile) White House visitor who had presented a far-fetched scheme to end the Civil War, restore the Jews to Palestine and establish general world peace.

“I myself have a regard for the Jews,” Lincoln reportedly said, brushing off his visitor. “My chiropodist is a Jew, and he has so many times ‘put me on my feet’ that I would have no objection to giving his countrymen ‘a leg up.’ ”

Zacharie’s grandiose dream of establishing a chiropody corps within the Union Army never came to pass. But Lincoln did send him to New Orleans in 1862 to gauge public opinion among Jews there, in what Zacharie later described as a spy mission. (At one point, the exhibition notes, he enlisted the help of fellow Jews disguised as peddlers.) He made a similar trip to Richmond, Va., in 1863, reporting back to Lincoln on a meeting with Judah P. Benjamin, the Jewish secretary of state for the Confederacy.

Zacharie also vigorously campaigned in New York for Lincoln’s re-election in 1864, reassuring him that “the Israelites” would “vote for you,” and claiming to have secured “trustworthy men to attend to them on Election Day.” (Such comments, a wall label notes, helped to set off scoffing in the Jewish press that any Jewish bloc existed.)

He popped up again in a January 1865 memo titled “About Jews,” in which Lincoln implicitly rebuked his secretary of war, Edwin M. Stanton, for detaining Zacharie during another trip to the South, and also requested fair treatment for Leopold Blumenberg, a Union Army provost marshal charged with torturing suspected deserters, among other abuses.

Lincoln, the exhibition shows, did much for Jews, individually and as a group. But just how affected was Lincoln by his encounters with them?

Deeply, Mr. Sarna argues. The encounters, he writes in the book, helped push Lincoln past a “parochially Christian” understanding of American identity. In what he called his “most controversial claim,” not made by the show, Mr. Sarna writes that the ecumenical phrase “this nation, under God” in the Gettysburg Address may have been meant as a “silent homage” to Jews who fell on the battlefield, one that “reimagined America in language that embraced Jews as equals.”

Mr. Holzer, the winner of this year’s Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize for his book “Lincoln and the Power of the Press,” said he wouldn’t go that far. “Clearly Lincoln was a leader concerned principally with African-Americans and their relationship with white America,” he said. “I think it would be wrong to say he dwelled on the place of non-Christians.”

But still, Mr. Holzer added, there is no denying Jews’ sense of “mystical association” with Lincoln, who was assassinated not just on Good Friday but during Passover, when many rabbis heard the news as they were preparing for Saturday services.

A wall text near the end of the exhibition quotes a eulogy delivered by Rabbi Henry Hochheimer at the Oheb Israel Congregation in Baltimore. “More than all others, the ‘House of Israel’ has cause to mourn this great loss,” the rabbi declared. “Abraham Lincoln had served as American Jewry’s ‘shield and protection.’ ”

“Lincoln and the Jews” continues through June 7 at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West; 212-873-3400,

A version of this article appears in print on March 20, 2015, on page C25 of the New York edition with the headline: A President’s Bonds With a Jewish Minority.

IMAGE: A carte de visite of Dr. Zacharie, who first treated Lincoln in 1862. In 1864, he vigorously campaigned in New York for Lincoln’s re-election. Credit The Shapell Manuscript Collection

IMAGE: The exhibit, which opens Friday, includes a  testimonial that Lincoln wrote to Dr. Issachar Zacharie, one of several testimonials he wrote for his Jewish podiatrist. Credit The Shapell Manuscript Collection


Joseph K. Barnes, Surgeon General

JOSEPH K. BARNES (July 21,1817 - April 5,1883), Surgeon General, August 22, 1864 - June 30, 1882, was born in Philadelphia, Pa., the son of Judge Joseph Barnes, a native of New England, who served for many years as Judge of the district court of that city. He received in academic education at Round Hill School at Northampton, Mass., and entered upon a collegiate course at Harvard University. Compelled by ill health to leave college before graduation he began the study of medicine with Surgeon (later Surgeon General) Thomas Harris of the navy, and received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1838.

After graduation he served a year as resident physician at Blockley Hospital and for another year as visiting physician for the northwestern district of Philadelphia. He then appeared before an army examining board which was meeting at the time in Philadelphia and pursuant to its recommendation he was commissioned an assistant surgeon on June 15, 1840, and was assigned for his first duty to the West Point Military Academy.

After only a few months of this duty he was ordered, Nov. 19, 1840, to accompany a detachment of recruits to Florida, where hostilities were in progress against the Seminole Indians. For the two following years he served successively at eight posts in that state, much of the time giving professional service to two or more posts at the same time, owing to the shortage of medical officers. Notable in his field service of this period was that involved while accompanying General Harney's expedition through the Everglades. In

1842 he was assigned to Fort Jesup, La., where he remained until 1846, when with the beginning of the Mexican War he joined the 2d Dragoons en route to Corpus Christi to join the army being mobilized for the invasion of Mexico from the north. He served with the cavalry column of General Taylor's army during its advance to Monterey. Later transferred to General Scott's forces before Vera Cruz he served with General Worth's division during the siege and capture of that city. During the advance upon Mexico City he was chief surgeon of the cavalry brigade and participated in the battles of Cerro Gordo, Contreras, Cherubusco, and Molina del Rey, in the storming of Chapultepec and the capture of the capital.

From Mexico City he was ordered to duty at Baton Rouge, La., in 1848.; During the thirteen years that intervened between this time and the Civil War, Barnes saw a service which took him to widely separated parts of the country. In the south he served at Fort Croghan and other posts in Texas, in the plains country at Fort Scott, Fort Leavenworth, and Camp Center (now Fort Riley), on the Pacific coast at San Francisco, Fort Vancouver and the Cascades, while between times he saw tours of duty at Baltimore, Fort McHenry, Philadelphia, and West Point. In the meantime be had been promoted to major and surgeon on August 29, 1856.

The shelling of Fort Sumter found him at Fort Vancouver. He was immediately ordered east and served successively as medical director of the forces under General David Hunter, medical director of the Western Department, and medical director of the Department of Kansas, all of these assignments pertaining to the troops operating in Missouri. On May 2, 1862, he was ordered to report to the Surgeon General in Washington and upon reporting was assigned to duty as attending surgeon for the city. While on this duty he formed the acquaintance of Secretary of War Stanton who quickly gained a highly favorable impression of him. The friendship which ensued lasted throughout their careers and had profound effects, not only upon the future activities of Barnes, but upon the fortunes of the medical service.

On February 9, 1863, Barnes was appointed a medical inspector with the rank of lieutenant colonel, and with station in Washington. On August 10, 1863, he was further advanced to the position of medical inspector general with the grade of colonel. It was but a few weeks after this advancement that the difficulties between Stanton and Surgeon General Hammond culminated in the detachment of the latter from his office. On September 3, 1863, Barnes was by a special order of the War Department "empowered to take charge of the bureau of the Medical Department of the army and to perform the duties of Surgeon General during the absence of that officer." He assumed the office of acting Surgeon General the following day thus beginning one of the longest and most eventful administrations in the history of the office. On August 22, 1864, he was advanced to the position of Surgeon General, with the grade of brigadier general and on March 13, 1865, he received the brevet of major general for faithful and meritorious service during the war.

Secretary Stanton, now having a Surgeon General of his own choice and one personally acceptable to him, became as solicitous for the medical service as he had hitherto been inimical. For the remainder of his term of office he exhibited the greatest interest in the health and hygienic conditions of the army, in the comfort and welfare of the sick and wounded, and in efforts to extend the facilities and opportunities of the medical officers. Such a situation tended to make easy the problems of the new Surgeon General. As principal assistant, Barnes brought to his office Major Charles Henry Crane, who continued in the capacity throughout the eighteen years of his term and succeeded to the office upon the retirement of his chief.

The work of collecting material for the Medical Museum and for the Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion was pushed vigorously during the years 1863 and 1864. The question of the military control of general hospitals was a vexing one from the beginning of the war. A War Department order of April 7, 1862, placed them under the supervision of the Surgeon General, but was not sufficiently explicit in its provisions regarding the right of command of the medical officers in charge of these hospitals. It was not until December 27, 1864, that the question was finally settled by General Order No. 306, confirming the medical officer's right to command in his own sphere of action.

The good will of Secretary Stanton was again shown by an order of February 8, 1865, giving to the medical department entire control of hospital transports and hospital boats. The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion was first suggested by Surgeon General Hammond in a circular to medical officers inviting cooperation in the collection of material. In 1865 there was issued by the Surgeon General a report upon the extent and nature of the material available for its preparation. Since 1862 Major Joseph J. Woodward had been in charge of the Army Medical Museum and of the material for the history. In 1866 Major George A. Otis was brought into the office and he and Major Woodward were charged with the preparation of this great work.

Four of the six monumental volumes were completed under General Barnes' administration and the other two were far advanced at the time of his retirement.  His regime was further notable for the interest he took in the development of the Army Medical Library. During his term of office, the library, under the supervision of Major John S. Billings, was expanded from a small collection of text-books to first rank among medical libraries of the country.

An epoch making event was the appearance in 1880 of the first volume of the Index Catalogue, edited by Billings, the continuance of which has brought world wide fame and acclaim to the library and to the medical department. In the reorganization of the army following the Civil War, General Barnes was successful in retaining for the medical department the same proportion of the several grades of officers as existed during the conflict. This was not accomplished without a protracted struggle against various proposals which would have seriously crippled the department.

General Barnes was a handsome man of fine physique and attractive personality. Gifted with tact and diplomacy he possessed to a high degree the quality of inspiring confidence and friendship. These qualities stood him in good stead during the early years of his administration and were fruitful in benefits for the medical department. It fell to his lot to share in the professional care of two murdered presidents. At the time of the assassination of President Lincoln and the attempted assassination of Secretary Seward he attended the death bed of the one and ministered to the successful restoration of the other.  During the long illness of President Garfield he was one of the surgeons who for weeks served in the chamber of the dying president. The protracted service and anxiety incident to the care of the latter took heavy toll on Barnes' health. An Act of Congress passed June 30, 1882 (22 Stat. 118),  providing for compulsory retirement for age, found Barnes nearly a year past the statutory age and he was retired on June 30, 1882. A chronic nephritis of which he was a subject for some time caused his death at his home in Washington on April 5, 1883. His remains lie in Oak Hill Cemetery, Washington, D. C. His wife, who was Mary Fauntleroy, daughter of Judge Fauntleroy, of Winchester, Va., survived him.

Charles "Charley" King, the Youngest Casualty of the Civil War


Great sacrifices were made at the Battle of Antietam. And one very small one.

Charles "Charley" King loved playing music. When war broke out, the West Chester, Pa. 12-year-old begged his father to let him enlist in the army as a drummer boy. He earned the backing of Company F Captain Benjamin Sweeney by practicing his drumming near the military camp where the company was being trained. Sweeney, who was recruiting soldiers to serve in the Forty-Ninth Pennsylvania, was impressed.

Sweeney convinced Charley's father that "drummer boys were non-combatants, who generally were safer behind the lines than on the battle line and helped with the wounded." He said Charley would be kept out of danger and would be looked after.

The family agreed to let the oldest of their five children enter the war.

Charley performed well as a musician-drummer boy with the company, impressing the men and officers so much with his drumming that he was promoted drum major of the field music of the Forty-Ninth Pennsylvania Regiment. It was a distinct honor for such a young volunteer. After participating in the 1862 Peninsula Campaign, Charley was a veteran, something that few of his age could claim.

With the movement of Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia into Maryland in September of 1862, Charley marched with the rest of the Federal Army toward Western Maryland and a showdown with the enemy: The Battle of Antietam - the bloodiest single day of fighting in the Civil War.

During that battle on Sept. 17, 1862, enemy artillery exploded near the Forty-Ninth Pennsylvania, wounding several men including Charley, who was shot "through the body" by a piece of shrapnel.  He was carried back to a field hospital in the rear of the lines.

When that day ended, almost 25,000 lay dead or wounded on the peaceful farm fields surrounding the small village of Sharpsburg. Three days later, Charley died of his wounds, as the youngest soldier of either army to fall during the four years of Civil War.

Charley's father retrieved his body after the battle and laid him to rest near his home in West Chester, at Old Cheyney Cemetery.

About the Ambulance Corps


The Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac was Jonathan Letterman. Jonathan Letterman made a plan called the ambulance plan, which had two stretchers- and one driver. They brought the wounded to places called dressing stations, then they were transferred to a field hospital.

The plan was implemented in August 1862 when McClellan issued General Orders No.147 creating the Ambulance Corps for the Army of the Potomac under the control of the Medical Director.

In March 1864, Congress published the Act Public 22 to create an Ambulance Corps for all of the Union Armies. The most unfit soldiers were detailed prior to the Ambulance Corps.

Many horse-drawn ambulances were first used in the 1850’s in the Crimean War. Standardized horse-drawn military ambulances were introduced in the U.S. During the Civil War. The first U.S. motorized ambulance unit operated in Mexico 1916 during the American punitive expedition against the Mexican Revolutionary general Panache Villa.

1. The ambulance corps was organized on the basis of the captain to each army corps as the commandant of the ambulance corps.

2. There were only two men and one driver to each ambulance and one driver to each transport cart.

3. The captain is the commander of all ambulances and transport carts in the army corps. He would make a personal inspection once a week of all the ambulances, transport carts, horses and their harness.

4. The first lieutenant was assigned to the ambulance corps of a division and would have complete control. He would receive a daily inspection report of all the ambulances and horses.

5. The sergeant in charged of the ambulance corps for a regiment and would conduct the drills and inspections.

6. Two medical officers from the reserve corps of surgeons of each division, and a hospital steward would be detailed by the medical of the army corps to accompany the ambulance train when on the march.

7. Commanders of the ambulance corps would report with out delay to the medical director.

8. No person would be allowed to be carried from the battlefield any wounded or sick except these corps.

What Type of Candy Did They Eat in the Civil War?


Best Answer:  Chocolate candy. It was made with half a pound chocolate, a pound and a half brown sugar, and three quarters of a cup milk. This was more of a sucking candy as you'd boil it and drop a little in cold water to see how quickly it would harden. If it hardened quickly enough it was done and you could take it off the fire. Soldiers who got this candy in a box from home were apparently quite lucky.

A Mrs. Haskell's in 1863 wrote down recipes for molasses candy and maple sugar taffy. Made from a quart of molasses and once it was ready you'd pour it out and allow to cool (baking sheets should be used here) enough to handle. Lukewarm was the temp to aim for. Then you'd fold it by hand over and over until it turned white. Pull and roll into ropes and finally cut it into bite sized pieces. The maple sugar candy had two cups water, five pounds maple sugar , and 1/2 ounce cream of tartar. Boil and skim off the scum when it forms. Keep boiling and skimming until no more scum forms. Once this happens keep boiling a stirring steadily until about a teaspoon dropped in cold water turns hard and brittle. Then pour into a greased pan a cool fast by setting it over ice or cold water. Once warm enough to touch without burning yourself lift and pull, and fold it in on itself over and over again until it turns white then roll it into ropes and cut into bite sized pieces.

The maple sugar taffy attests to there being taffy, but this wasn't the only testament to such candy. The noted diarist Mary Chestnut wrote of a visit to Mrs. Lee's home February 26, 1864 and how someone spoke of how the Lees spending there time was a rebuke to taffy parties. This suggests that taffy parties must have been quite popular in Richmond at that time, or had been popular in Virginia prior to the war and something Mrs. Lee had thrown at Arlington House (aka the Custis-Lee Mansion).

As there was chocolate candy it should be no shock then that there was fudge. In at least three of her period cookbooks Patricia B. Mitchell gives recipes for fudge as it may have been made at that time. In particular is Federal Fudge, which Union soldiers might have purchased from sutlers.

From Mrs. Lee among other sources we know there were caromels. In her personal note book, which served as part cookbook, she had a recipe for a chocolate caromel. Also in a cookbook from a Mrs. Beeton there were raspberry, strawberry, coconut, and chocolate caromels. But think of Mrs. Lee's caromels as something akin to fudge. Anne Carter Zimmer describes it as a fudge forerunner.

Image: Starting in the 1860s, the Ganja Wallah Hasheesh Candy Company made maple sugar hashish candy, which soon became one of the most popular treats in America. For 40 years, it was sold over the counter and advertised in newspapers, as well as being listed in the catalogs of Sears-Roebuck, as a totally harmless, delicious, and fun candy. (From:

Jelly Beans for Union Soldiers


When you think of Easter candy, think jelly beans. Americans pop 16 billion little chewy, sugary concoctions every Easter. Created in the 17th century and then refined thereafter, the jelly bean took rise in the U.S. when Boston candy maker William Schrafft marketed them heavily to Union soldiers during the Civil War.

Originally sold by color, jelly beans were the first candy to ever be sold by weight. They gained their Easter popularity in the 1930s behind a marketing push that pitched the beans’ resemblance to an egg. The most popular color remains red to this day.

The End of the Slave Trade

By Joshua D. Rothman, 3-27-15

On March 21, 1865, black Charlestonians reveled in their freedom in a parade that began before more than 10,000 people on the Citadel green and stretched for nearly two and a half miles.

Mounted marshals led a band, the 21st Regiment of the United States Colored Troops, and clergymen from numerous denominations. Behind them walked an assembly of women, more than 1,800 newly enrolled public school children and a variety of black tradesmen, from fishermen and carpenters to barbers and blacksmiths, who carried banners that read, among other things, “We Know No Master But Ourselves,” “Free Homes, Free Schools, One Country and One Flag” and “Our Reply to Slavery — Colored Volunteers.”

The march’s joy was not unmixed. According to a New York Daily Tribune correspondent, a horse-drawn cart followed the tradesmen, carrying an auctioneer’s block on which sat two black women and a child. Riding alongside them was a black man carrying a bell and waving the red flag that for decades had been the unmistakable sign of a slave trader open for business. Ringing his bell, the man called to spectators, “How much am I offered for this good cook?” “She is an ‘xlent cook, ge’men.” “She can make four kinds of mock-turtle soup—from beef, fish or fowls.” “Who bids?” Sixty men, tied together by a rope, walked behind the auction cart “in imitation of the gangs who used often to be led through these streets on their way from Virginia to the sugar-fields of Louisiana.” They were followed in turn by a hearse on which was chalked “Slavery is Dead,” “Who Owns Him? No One,” and “Sumter Dug His Grave on the 13th April 1861,” and by 50 women dressed entirely in black.

These elements of the parade were intended as a burlesque, as suggested by the “shouts of laughter” that met the hearse and the “joyous faces” of the women dressed as mourners. For some people, however, the charade triggered memories of the deepest trauma they ever experienced in their lives. “Old women burst into tears as they saw this tableau,” the Tribune reporter wrote, “and forgetting that it was a mimic scene, shouted wildly: ‘Give me back my children! Give me back my children!’”

Every enslaved person felt the dark touch of the slave trade. The overseas trade dated to the earliest years of the colonial period, and in the decades after the United States banned it in 1808 domestic traders sold nearly one million people from the Upper South to the Lower South, and millions more within individual states and territories.No one who lived in slavery slavery avoided either being personally sold or losing a parent, sibling, child, spouse or friend to the trade, often never to be seen again. The anguish of the mothers at the parade in Charleston, however, spoke not only to collective torment going back more than 200 years. It spoke to fresh pain, because the slave trade was carried on in the Confederacy until the very last days of the Civil War.

Anxiety prevailed among slave traders throughout the fall of 1860. Uncertainty following Abraham Lincoln’s election made potential customers hesitant to buy, and prices for enslaved people dropped substantially as the year drew to a close. One Richmond slave-trading company reported in November 1860, for example, that the “election excitement” had produced “extreme flatness and inactivity” in the market, and in late December another observed that, thanks in part to “political derangements,” prices had fallen by roughly a third since the summer. The company’s principals did not imagine they would rebound anytime soon.

To a certain extent, they were wrong. Spotty sources make it effectively impossible to gauge the precise volume of slave sales during the Civil War, but it is clear that slaveholders and traders bought and sold enslaved people throughout the conflict. The long-distance trade most likely went into steep decline, if it did not end nearly altogether, as Union occupation of Alexandria within months of the war’s outbreak and of New Orleans early in its second year shut down some of the trade’s most vital hubs. Still, sales and purchases within states and between neighboring states revived in the spring of 1861 once the reality of secession solidified and white Southerners acquired confidence in their ability to sustain Confederate independence. Prices never entirely bounced back to what they had been in the late 1850s, but in numerous cities they rallied substantially and held reasonably stable through the end of 1861.

For the remainder of the war, however, the shape and strength of the slave trade and the fates of enslaved people trapped in its maw depended on the fortunes of the Confederate military effort and the state of the Southern economy. Market prices, for example, and probably sales volumes as well, declined noticeably in the spring of 1862 as Union forces made gains in Tennessee and Louisiana, occupied locations along the Carolina coast and approached Richmond during the Peninsula Campaign. They then rose again with that campaign’s failure and subsequent Confederate victories outside the capital, all of which led slaveholders, especially in Virginia, to believe that slaves would retain value. Slave traders seemed to agree, as advertisements for their services continued to appear fairly steadily throughout most of the Confederacy.

Even the issuing of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in the fall of 1862 could not shake white Southerners’ faith in their cause and in the future of slavery. If anything, their faith grew stronger. Demands for enslaved labor by Confederate, state and local governments escalated in the months following the announcement, slaveholders saw purchasing enslaved people as a sign of their patriotism, and newspaper editors crowed about the large sales and rising prices they saw in the market.

The Mississippi editor of the Hinds County Gazette, for instance, noted that at local slave sales he saw “pretty fair prices considering the assurances from Washington that the institution shall be wiped out.” Even cockier was the editor of the Staunton Spectator in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, who scoffed that “just at the very time when Lincoln declares that [slaves] are emancipated they command higher prices than ever before. Could anything demonstrate more satisfactorily,” he asked, “the futility of his infamous proclamation? The people of the South never felt that the institution of slavery was ever safer than at the present time.”

Such trumpeting of high prices for enslaved people, however, disguised the creeping impact of economic disruptions. It was true that market prices for slaves rose steadily and rapidly from the middle of 1862 and continued to do so until the end of the war. Young enslaved men who sold for just over $1,000 in the fall of 1862 cost nearly double that a year later, nearly five times that by the start of 1864, and in some places roughly 10 times that by the early spring of 1865. But in real prices those numbers lagged significantly behind skyrocketing inflation, which in Virginia approached nearly 1,500 percent by late 1863.

And though the real prices of enslaved people stayed slightly higher in Texas and in interior cities such as Montgomery, Ala., and Raleigh, N.C., that were more secure from attack, they dropped almost everywhere within months of the war’s outset and kept dropping through its conclusion. By the spring of 1863 they were just a third of what they had been late in 1861. By the end of the war, real prices were less than one-tenth of what they had been when the first shots were fired, and one estimate suggests that if market prices had actually kept pace with inflation, a young enslaved man in early 1865 would have cost more than $84,000 in Confederate currency.

There were white Southerners, of course, who saw the bluster of newspaper editors for the facade or the delusion that it was, and who understood that the institution they had fled the Union to defend was crumbling around them. Particularly from Vicksburg and Gettysburg forward, slaveholders in some places dumped enslaved people onto the market, hoping to realize whatever they might get in return and preserve their dwindling resources. Late in 1864, for example, the die-hard Confederate Edmund Ruffin sold nearly every enslaved person who had not yet run from his Virginia plantation, with his son observing that they “were sold on account of the expense of keeping and the doubtful tenure of the property.”

Virginia Hayes Shepherd, meanwhile, who was herself enslaved near Norfolk, Va., remembered that white fears of widespread emancipation spread as the war dragged on, and she recalled the day when the sheriff, on orders from her owner, came to the hotel where her mother worked and locked her, Virginia and Virginia’s brother in jail alongside “hundreds of other mothers and their children sleeping on the floor at night just waiting their turn to be sold South.”

Yet Shepherd also remembered that of those crowded into the jail, “each day some were sold off.” Remarkably, no matter how poorly things went for the Confederacy on the battlefield, there remained white Southerners either unable to fathom the prospect of ultimate defeat or unwilling to countenance it. Even as growing numbers of people in 1864 and 1865 grasped that the war was going to end, and that there would be no slavery after it, others said with their pocketbooks that they considered that an impossibility.

In Charleston, the trading firm of Alonzo White sold a lot of nearly 100 slaves early in 1864 for an average price of more than $2,500. Several months later the estate of the Richmond trader Silas Omohundro sold 13 slaves to other traders who were sure they could turn a profit, even though collectively they paid the estate nearly $45,000. In November, 18 people were sold in Augusta, Ga., bringing in nearly $35,000, and a score more belonging to a North Carolina estate were sold in December in Raleigh, where a newspaper editor reported that there were numerous persons “anxious to buy.” In Montgomery, Thomas Frazier was so certain about the flow of buyers that he actually opened a new slave brokerage firm in the spring of 1864, bragging that he would “keep constantly on hand a large and well selected stock such as families, house servants, gentlemen’s body servants, seamstresses, boys and girls of all descriptions, blacksmiths, field hands.”

Remarkably, such willful blindness continued into the spring of 1865. In March, J.B. Jones, the Confederate war clerk in Richmond, was incredulous that “buying and selling [of slaves] for what they call ‘dollars’ are still extensively indulged.” For some people, the slave trade that had been the lifeblood of the antebellum South was the only thing they had left, and they would have to be told in no uncertain terms that squeezing profits from the bodies of enslaved people was no longer their prerogative.

Arguably, that message was delivered on April 2, 1865. As Jefferson Davis and his government prepared to flee Richmond, so did Robert Lumpkin, a slave trader and proprietor of one of the most notorious slave jails in the South. As Davis and his cabinet secretaries scrambled to get out of the city, Lumpkin cleared out his jail and dragged 50 enslaved men, women and children in handcuffs and chains to the train station, only to be informed by sentinels guarding the train leaving Richmond that there was no room.

Instead, the last slave coffle that the United States would ever see walked on, trudging atop a carpet of Confederate bonds that had been underwritten by their sweat and that now lay abandoned, worthless and blanketing the muddy streets of the panic-ridden capital of Virginia. There would be no more sales. There would be no more chains. There would be no more jails. But nothing would bring back the children of the old women who wailed as they watched the parade in Charleston.

Joshua D. Rothman is a professor of history and the director of the Summersell Center for the Study of the South at the University of Alabama.

Image: A slave trading firm in Atlanta, 1864.Credit Library of Congress


Civil War Bandages: Lint and Charpie (it's not your dryer lint)

By Virginia Mescher

In reading numerous accounts of women’s contributions during the Civil War, one usually sees references to lint, scraping lint and the amount of lint sent to hospitals by relief societies. The lint phenomena occurred in both the North and South, where ladies’ aid societies and lint societies were formed to produce lint for the wounded.

Lint was a common medical product which was used to dress wounds but to completely understand exactly what was meant by lint or scraping lint, one must be aware of the period definition. There were two types of lint used for dressings. Lint was defined in Webster’s Dictionary, 1861 as, “Flax, but more generally, linen scraped into a soft substance, and used for dressing wounds and sores.” The definition of lint in the Oxford English Dictionary is, “A soft material for dressing wounds, prepared by ravelling or scraping linen cloth.” The first recorded mention of lint was in 1440. To create more confusion, the word “charpie” was synonymous with lint. Charpie was defined as, “Lint for dressing a wound” (Webster’s Dictionary) and “Old linen unravelled into short ends of thread for surgical dressings; very narrow, thread-like strips of linen torn off so as to leave fringed ends.” (Oxford English Dictionary) The first mention of charpie occurred in 1797 and was thought to have been an invention of the French.

Henry Hollingsworth Smith, author of Minor Surgery; or Hints on the Every-day Duties of the Surgeon wrote an excellent description of lint and charpie.

“Lint is a soft, delicate tissue or mass, prepared in two ways, in one of which the transverse threads of soft, old linen are drawn out by a machine, leaving the longitudinal ones covered by a sort of tomentum or cotton-like mass; whilst the other, the cotton-like surface is produced by scraping with a sharp knife a similar piece of cloth previously fastened to some firm substance. The first is known as Patent Lint, and may be obtained of any druggist, being now generally manufactured. The second is Domestic Lint, and may be made at a moment’s notice when the first is not convenient. They are both employed as primary dressings, either spread with ointments, or alone.”

Smith also described charpie: “Charpie is a substance much employed by the French Surgeons and now gaining a more general application in the United States. It is made by collecting the threads torn from pieces of linen, four to five inches square, such as is used in patent lint. The process, however, goes a step farther than that for making lint, and tears the threads entirely apart instead of preserving the cloth. The linen from which it is made should always be new, and not worn table cloths as sometimes is employed. Gerdy having proved, that when Charpie is made from new linen it absorbs better than when from old.

Charpie is usually divided into two kinds, according to the length and fineness of the thread composing it; that which is long and coarse being employed to keep open the sinus, fistulae, and to act as an outer dressing; while the softer, finer kind is placed in immediate contact with the part, especially where the surface requires stimulation.”

“Various names are given to Charpie, according to the way in which the fibers are arranged previously to its application. Thus, we have the Pledget, Roll, Tent, Mesh, Bullet, Tampon, Pellet, each of which have their particular advantage.”

Lint and charpie were used in various ways. Probably the most common way lint was used was in a compressive dressing. It was folded and pressed into or on wounds and a bandage was placed over the lint; this action helped to control bleeding. It was also used wet and used as a sponge. Charpie was mainly used for absorption of drainage and was used to pack in wounds and then covered with a mixture of wax, rosin, white lead and other substances that would block out air to the wound. Even though it adhered to the wound, when the dressing was changed and the mass was pulled away, only the dead matter adhered to the dressing and the healthy area was not affected. A Federal surgeon, writing in 1905, indicated that lint was most often applied wet to the wound, covered with a piece of gauze muslin and then covered with an adhesive plaster. The dressing would then be kept wet.

This action was thought to have kept the wound “clean and sweet.”

There was little information in primary sources that describe exactly how the lint was used. Dr. John Gunn included a mention of the use of lint in his family medical book. He wrote, “Treatment of Wounds..... [after the bleeding is stopped]. After sprinkling on a quantity of this [styptic substance such as alum, burnt copperas] enough to thinly cover the surface of the wound, or the parts of it from which the hemorrhage proceeds, place over it a pledget, or bunch of lint or cotton, or a bit of old muslin folded, and apply a bandage...... Bring the edges of the wound together carefully and as close as you can; across the wound, leaving a little space between each to allow any fluid to escape that may run from the wound. Place over the straps a bunch of lint, or cotton, or compress of muslin, and over it a bandage.”

Adams wrote in Doctors in Blue: “There were two schools on the uses of lint. One held that a wad of it should be placed into the wound ‘to keep it open;’ the other was that lint was of use only as padding around a splint or to wipe away pus and had come into use on the mistaken theory that it is necessary to keep a wound from healing to permit the escape of humors....

...... The lint used, much as absorbent cotton is used now, was supposed to have been scraped from clean pieces of cloth, but of course was not aseptic. Frequently it was be applied wet, covered with a piece of gauze, and held in place by an adhesive plaster.”

Both patent and scraped lint were considered a necessary part of regulation medical equipment for both the north and south. U. S. army regulations indicated that four pounds of patent lint and two pounds of scraped lint was standard in a properly equipped medical wagon and a half pound of patent lint was needed for a medical pannier. The Confederate army regulations suggested the amount of lint necessary for a regiment (eight pounds); battalion (four pounds); and company (two pounds) for three months. Specific amounts were also proposed for hospitals of different sizes. The suggested amounts did not really indicate an accurate figure of what would be required in field and stationary hospitals and even before the war started, individuals realized that more than the recommended amounts of lint would not be sufficient for the needs of both armies.

It was recognized the lint would be needed if war became a reality. Even before the war officially began, there were references to lint in southern newspapers. The Charleston Mercury, in the January 7, 1861 issue included the following item. “Lint. — An interesting circumstance connected with the lint, which the teachers and pupils of the Columbia Female College (during this their present recess) are preparing for the use, if need be, by our Southern army, is, that it is from linen sheets, spun and wove by a woman of the Revolution of 1776 (the great-grand-mother of one of the teachers of the institution). The women of one revolution, thus, as it were, coming up to the help of the women of another, even as the memory of the patriotism of the women of the past causes to glow with increased ardor that of the women of the present. — Carolinian.”

Right after the beginning of the war, publications stressed the upcoming need of lint and its scarcity. In the Natchez Daily Courier on April 26, 1861 Dr. Schuppert wrote, “War seeming to be inevitable, I would suggest an appeal to the well-known patriotism of the ladies of this city and the country at large, to furnish the military stores with an implement of great importance to the active surgeons of the army — we mean “charple,” [charpie] or picked lint, of which there are not fifty pounds to be found, even if you would buy out all the drug stores of the city of New Orleans. The lint, which is commonly used as a surrogate for dressing wounds, does not come up at all to the purpose it is required for in actual warfare; besides, it is a costly article. The charple [sic], as used in the French and German armies, is prepared out of old worn-out shirts and sheets, which are commonly thrown away. We would, therefore, say: ‘Save the pieces;’ cut them in squares of 4 or 5 inches, pick them, and the required article is prepared. If it is sweet to bleed for the country, it is not less sweet to know that the wounds will be dressed properly; moreover, by the handwork of our mothers and sisters.”

There are numerous references to lint and lint scraping recorded in diaries, letters and memoirs. It seemed to be a primary activity for ladies’ relief societies in both the north and south. An anonymous wife of an Confederate officer related her experiences, of the Civil War, to Mryta Avary. She wrote of setting up aid societies in churches and as well as making shirts, havelocks and knapsacks, bandages were being rolled and lint was being picked and rolled into balls.

Varina Davis wrote in the Confederate Veteran in May, 1893: “Towels and sheets were spun from cotton to replace the house linen which as been cut into bandages, or scraped into lint for the surgeons in the field. One handsome young woman, the daughter of and ex Minister to Spain, rise before me out of the haze of bygone years, stepping lightly to and fro winding bandages on the spindle of her wheel and talking pleasantly to her visitors, while her patriotic mother sat by cutting up the table linen which she had treasured for forty years. The daughter show great callous knots on her shapely hands made by scraping lint, and mentioned them with an expression of gratitude to God that she could procure material for so much work.”

This was not only done in the South and as early as April 30, 1861, the New York Times was publishing the lint contributions of northern ladies’ aid societies. Even though lint was a much needed item in hospitals some women responded to the extreme as indicated by Mary Livermore. She wrote in her book, My Story of the War, “The decline of the Havelock fever was followed by a ‘lint and bandage’ mania, which set in with great fury. For a time it was the absorbingly topic. Knowing how insignificant in value these items of relief proved in the actual experience of the war, one cannot forbear a smile when reading the sapient discussions of the time. ‘What is the best material for lint?’ ‘How is it best scraped and prepared?’ ‘By what means can it best be gathered, in the largest quantities?’ These were the questions of the hour, discussed gravely by professional men. And the ‘New York Medical Association for furnishing Hospital Supplies,’ actually held meeting to discuss a ‘lint and bandage depot.’ Thus stimulated, every household gave its leisure time to scraping lint and rolling bandages, till the mighty accumulations compelled the ordering of a halt. A little later, the making of lint by machine relieved women of any further effort in this direction.” [In Smith’s 1850 book, he mentioned that lint could be made by machine.]

Despite what Mary Livermore wrote about the excess of lint, some northern newspapers did request that civilians donate lint and northern women still scraped lint. Lida Bender of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania wrote, in 1862, about the Battle of South Mountain. On hearing the guns, Bender and other women hurriedly prepared hospital supplies, working at night in “the low- ceiled, unfurnished room, the only light a few tallow candles, a large clothes-basket in the center, and round about a circle of girls, each with a pine shingle, a knife, and a lapful of pieces of old linen tablecloths, towels, and napkins which we were scraping into lint. Back of us the older women were making neat rolls of strips of old soft muslin for bandages. Suddenly above the scrape, scrape of the knives, the swish of tearing muslin and the low murmur of voices, a woman’s shrill scream rang out on the night. Terrified, we dropped our work, and ran out to the sidewalk. It was a mother’s cry for her boy, who had been killed the day before, only eighteen miles from home. That night, I felt the horror of war.”

The following appeared in the Davenport [IA] Daily Gazette on September 3, 1862. “Lint Societies .— By reference to the Gazette of yesterday morning, the little girls of our city will find a direct appeal made to them from the Surgeon General of the United States, that they revive their lint societies and go to work to pick lint for the poor wounded soldiers. Just to think, hundred and thousands of soldiers, the brothers and fathers of little girls like yourselves, now suffering anguish from their bleeding wounds, when a little lint might stop the flow of blood and help to relieve their pain. Go to work little girls and pick lint — it will all be needed, more than your industrious fingers can supply.”

The Davenport Daily Gazette also published the contributions of the lint societies. Later in the war, it was evident that the necessity for the home production of lint had lessened. The following letter was written by Mrs. S. E. Hooper, of the U. S. Sanitary Commission, to a Miss Wilson on September 15, 1864, thanking her for the contributions to the Commission. In part the letter states, “.... You mention having a quantity of lint — We shall be glad of what you have although we do not recommend much to be made as the call is much less than formerly.”

To aid individuals producing lint and the lint societies and magazines and newspapers included directions on how to produce lint and bandages. The following appeared in the August, 1861 Peterson’s Magazine. “Lint and Bandages. — Lint should be made of unraveled linen, new or old (the latter preferred), by cutting it in pieces of four or five inches square, which would be highly acceptable, while lint made from canton flannel [a cotton flannel that is twilled on one
side and fuzzy on the other side] is irritating to the wound.”

The Bellville [Texas] Countryman, on May 22, 1861 included the following advice for making lint. “ The lint should be made of linen cloth, scraped or ravelled [sic], but the ravelled [sic] is very much preferable, as it can be more easily removed from the wounds. The linen should be cut into pieces about three inches square and then ravelled [sic]. These directions are of extreme importance. Very much labor of the French ladies during the Crimean war was useless, because misapplied.”

Women adopted their own methods of scraping lint according to their preferences. The Southern Confederacy, in the April 25, 1861 issue, included the following. “We recommend the following from a lady friend to the ladies of our own and other communities. Lint and bandages may become very necessary to the troops now marching to battle. To the Ladies. — A New Way of Making Lint. — On Saturday last as the Court House in this city, I noticed several ladies engaged in scraping lint with knives, it appeared to be a very tedious business. After working away for some time trying different kinds of knives, Miss McKey, one of the party suggested tearing up the linen into fine pieces, and then carding it. They all agreed to her proposition so she had some cards brought and it proved to be the very idea. It was not long before they had a large box of nice fine carded lint. I would recommend all persons who are engaged in scraping
lint, to try Miss McKey’s plan of carding.”

Some doctors also gave advice on easier ways to produce the lint or use substitute items.

In the [Little Rock] Weekly Arkansas Gazette on June 8, 1861, Dr. J. C. Nott, Medical Director, wrote, “ In my daily rounds I see our ladies wearing out their fingers and eyes in picking lint for our brave soldiers, and while I admire their patriotism and charity, I hope I may be permitted to say, I think they are, for want of information, throwing away much time that might be more usefully spent. Clean cotton is easily obtained in any quantity, and answers just as well for dressing wounds as the ordinary lint. The ‘patent lint’ commonly used by surgeons is all, or nearly all, made of cotton. Some of the best European surgeons use the cotton-wool in preference to lint. Everybody uses cotton for a dressing for a burn, the most intense of all inflammations. To these facts I may add my own ample experiences. I have for years been in the habit of using good sample cotton and lint indiscriminately, in dressing wounds of all kinds, and could never see any difference. Finely carded, clean, white cotton makes most excellent lint. It can be conveniently put up for use in small bales — say two feet long by ten inches thick. A bale of hemp might easily be opened and the fibres [sic] cut about three inches in length. It could then be immersed for some days in a solution of chloride of soda, and subsequently bleached in the sun and dried thoroughly. When dry it is fit to be carded, and the process of carding, when well completed, will convert it into white and disinfecting lint or charpie. The hemp so prepared was used by the French surgeons in the Crimean war. A scientific apothecary should superintend the preparation of the hemp and the packing in bales of two feet long and ten inches wide. One bale of hemp would supply an army of 50,000 men.”

In Doctors in Gray, Cunningham Cunningham stated that raw, ginned cotton was baked in an oven until it was charred and then was used in place of conventional lint. In a medical exhibit of the Petersburg Siege Museum there was an example of the burned cotton, which was a square of flattened cotton batting similar to cotton quilt batting. It was charred black on one side and plain on the other side.

It would be impossible to ascertain the amount of lint that was shipped to the Confederate army, but by just reading newspaper accounts of what individual groups sent to the army, the amount of lint was phenomenal. The Confederacy did not have a source of manufactured lint available throughout the war so pleas were made for the home production of lint. Even as late as 1864 items such as the one that follows appeared in southern newspapers. The Mobile Register & Advertiser, on August 3, 1864, printed, “Lint for the Wounded. — Mr. Editor: I beg permission through the columns of your paper, to make a suggestion to the children of Mobile, and in reference to the purpose of which I am persuaded you will heartily concur.

Little children, I write unto you because you have much time to spare, and because your little fingers can perform as much service, and therefore do as much towards administering to the comfort and care of the thousands of brave wounded soldiers as older ones can. I wish you to ask your parents and friends for old linen table cloths, napkins and such like — tear them into pieces about two or three inches square, then pull out the strands, and make all the lint you can for a week to come. Bring it to the Soldiers’ Reading Room, where I will be most glad to welcome you with it every day until 4 until 6 o’clock in the afternoon. I wish to take it to the hospitals, where it is much wanted by all the poor sufferers, and who will, I am sure, call down God’s blessing on the heads of the children of Mobile. Try then who can make the most, and send me away with a “heap” of lint for our suffering braves.
Your friend, B. M. Miller, Post chaplain.
P.S. — The above is by no means designed to exclude the co-operation of young ladies and gentlemen of larger growth, who may also find many leisure hours to devote to this god-like charity at such a time as the present.”

Mrs. Livermore had indicated the North did not need the vast home production of lint and charpie and even though it continued to be manufactured at home by some women, the U. S. Army purchased large amount of lint. According to the Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, 147,135 pounds of patent lint, either cotton or linen, were purchased and 82,754 pounds of lint, picked or scraped linen were purchased or manufactured during the civil war. It is unclear as to whether or not the above totals include hundreds of pounds of lint shipped by the relief organizations, such as the Sanitary Commission, to northern hospitals.

Lint and lint scraping, even though mundane items, were inclusions or subjects of poetry, songs and were featured in civil war monuments and paintings. John Cornish wrote on January 12, 1861 a poem that he included in a letter to his brother. It described the firing on the steamer, The Star of the West.

He wrote, “..... Lint and bandage, while their hearts are quaking; Mothers and Sisters are diligently making....” In a poem by written by Clara Barton and presented in 1892, titled, “The Women Who Went to the Field.” She wrote, “.....They might pick some lint, and tear up some sheets....” Walt Whitman’s poem, “The Wound Dresser” contained the following, “I undo the clotted lint, remove the slough, wash off the matter and blood.” J. W. Barker wrote a poem/song titled, “Picking Lint.” A civil war monument erected in Hamilton, Ohio features windows depicting the contribution of women during the war: one window is titled “Our Loyal Mothers and Sisters” and shows women and children rolling bandages and scraping lint.”

One painting done in 1871 by Mihály Munkácsy of Hungary was titled, “Making Lint” pictured women, girls, old people and children making lint for wounded soldiers. Even though this painting was done after the civil war, it does show the importance placed on lint in later times.

Lint was a necessary item for hospital use during the Civil War and came in various forms and substitutions, but its use did not end with the Civil War. Both lint and charpie continued to be used by doctors until sterile gauze pads were introduced just before World War I.


History of the U.S. Christian Commission

By Angela Cross, U.S. Christian Commission

Soon after the start of the Civil War, YMCA leaders became concerned with the religious and spiritual needs of the soldiers in the nearby camps. Vincent Colyer, a member of the New York City YMCA, had begun spending time visiting nearby encampments where soldiers were stationed temporarily on their way to the battle front. Colyer mingled with the soldiers, offered words of encouragement, and handed out religious tracts. Since few camps had chaplains, the chaplaincy then being in its infancy, Colyer's ministrations were welcomed by both the soldiers and their officers. As a result of these activities, and the apparent need to extend them, the New York Association established an "Army Committee" with Colyer as chairman, with its mission to provide preaching services, individual religious visitation, and publications for soldiers.

In November, 1861, at the instigation of members of the board of the New York City YMCA, a special convention of fifty delegates representing fifteen YMCAs met in New York. A "Christian Commission" of twelve members was appointed to devise a plan for the Associations to act as a clearinghouse for all religious work in the armed forces.

The work of the Commission was organized at the national level. Local Associations were encouraged to support the Commission while maintaining their own activities. Many Associations merged into local branches of the Christian Commission or resolved themselves into army committees in order to facilitate the work of the Commission.

The national organization established an office in Philadelphia and the Associations of Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Louisville, New York, St. Louis, and St. Paul became regional clearinghouses for the various activities channeled through the Commission. George H. Stuart, founder and first president of the Philadelphia Association, and then chairman of the YMCA's Central Committee, was designated as Chairman of the Commission, a post he held throughout the war. The method of operation was the appointment of "delegates" who served on a volunteer basis for terms averaging six weeks.

The general aim of the Commission was "to promote the spiritual and temporal welfare of the soldiers in the army and the sailors in the Navy, in cooperation with the Chaplains." Its early activities included publication of a collection of familiar hymns, bible readings and prayers, devotional meetings in the camps, the organization of of a "working Christian force" in every regiment, and aiding and supporting chaplains. Though originally devised to provide spiritual sustenance, the activities of the Commission soon expanded into the physical and social realm, making the Commission a valuable agency of wartime relief.

A newspaper report of its first annual meeting described the objects of the organization as, "the promotion of the intellectual, moral and religious welfare of the Army and Navy, buy suggesting needful national legislation and administration, securing well-qualified chaplains, encouraging Sabbath observance, promoting temperance, multiplying libraries, reading-rooms, and gymnasiums, and endeavouring to arouse the sentiment of the nation to a sense of its obligations to this class of citizens. Delegates, serving both at the front and behind the lines, established tents as social centres with stationery and periodicals provided, distributed emergency medical supplies, food, and clothing, and operated canteens and lending libraries. A special work of compassion performed by delegates of the Commission was the assembling of records of those buried from prisons and in certain major battle areas. Prisoner-of-war work, which was to figure more prominently in YMCA war work in later conflicts, also began during the Civil War.

The establishment of the Commission was a pivotal moment in the history of the YMCA movement in North America, which was then just ten years old. The work of the Commission provided the medium for large-scale cooperation between the Association and the general public and was significant in creating prestige for the YMCA movement. The value of the services rendered was recognized by civil and military authorities during the war and afterward.

After the surrender of the Confederacy in 1865, the Commission continued to minister to the troops until they were discharged from military service. At a meeting of the Executive Committee in December, the decision was made to terminate the work of the Commission on January 1, 1866. During its 4 years of operation, the Christian Commission sent nearly 5,000 agents into the field; distributed 95,000 packages, which included nearly 1.5 million portions or full scriptures, 1 million hymnbooks and over 39 million pages of tract. Total monies spent during the Civil War was estimated at over 6.2 million dollars. (Material adapted from Chapter 1, "How it All Began," of Serving the U.S. Armed Forces, 1861-1986: The Story of the YMCA's Ministry to Military Personnel for 125 Years, by Richard C. Lancaster.)

Image: U.S. Christian Commission H.Q. 1863


Ambulance Trains

Excerpted from: "Ambulance Trains" by Addeane S. Caelleigh

Just as the horse-drawn ambulance had been originally developed by military medicine, so were ambulance trains. Evacuating, distributing, and treating the wounded during modern war requires mass transportation, which by the 1850s meant the railroad and steamship. In the United States, both were used in the Civil War (1861-65), and rail evacuation was important in the treatment of sick and wounded soldiers for almost the next hundred years.

In the Civil War, the wounded were at first carried away from battles in empty freight and passenger cars, which were not well suited to the needs of the patients or the medical corps. A system of rubber slings was fitted into some cars to hold litters and act as shock absorbers. Others were outfitted fully as hospital cars, with facilities for staff, apothecaries, dressing stations, and kitchens.

Hospital railway cars were not needed again until World War I, when they were used in both the United States and Europe. In Europe, railroads were an integral part of war planning by all belligerent countries, to move men and equipment both to and from areas of fighting. Although there were specifically outfitted ambulance trains or hospital trains, at the front during combat the common pattern was for freight cars to carry equipment and soldiers up to the front and to take away the wounded to the rear areas. In the United States, rail cars were used to move the wounded from East Coast ports, where they had been delivered from Europe by ship, to hospitals throughout the rest of the country. In the early months after America entered the war in 1916, these cars were converted civilian rail cars, but later special hospital cars were used. These hospital cars and trains continued to be used for many months after the November 1918 Armistice that ended the war, because the U.S. wounded remained in hospitals throughout Europe for many months, returning home or to U.S. hospitals only as they improved enough to be moved.

Author: I gratefully acknowledge information gained from visiting the U.S. Army Medical Department Museum, Fort Sam Houston, Texas (near San Antonio), which has a 1953 ambulance car as part of its excellent collections.
© 2001 Association of American Medical Colleges


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Army Medical Department Civilian Corps: A Legacy of Distinguished Service

By Major Kenneth M. Koyle, AMEDD Center of History and Heritage, 3-9-11

Civilians have played a vital role in Army medicine from the very beginning. In fact, virtually all medical functions were provided by civilians in the first few decades of the Army’s existence. The history of civilian support to the Army Medical Department (AMEDD) is an integral and inseparable component of our overall medical history.

On 27 July 1775 the Continental Congress established a medical department to provide care for the nascent Continental Army. Although it outlined a rudimentary system of care for the military, the legislation creating the medical department did not designate military rank for medical personnel, nor did it specify the correlation of the department to the larger army. This ambiguity left a corps of pseudo-civilian medical providers to carve out their own place in the Army structure, and spawned counterproductive infighting and confusion that persisted throughout the American Revolution and the subsequent War of 1812.

Despite the challenges of working in this ill-defined system, the civilian cadre of the early AMEDD made significant strides in planning and organizing battlefield medicine, preventive care, and basic logistical support for the Army. Under the purview of a Director General (antecedent of the Surgeon General), the surgeons, assistant surgeons, apothecaries, and purveyors worked tirelessly to overcome obstacles and provide the best care possible. These personnel served in a peculiar, indeterminate state—not exactly soldiers, because they had neither rank nor uniforms, but not exactly civilians, because they were subject to the rules, regulations, and restrictions of the Army. Their pay was meager and the conditions of service were arduous. According to one surgeon who served on the Canadian frontier during the War of 1812, most medical men were only willing to serve for a single year in these circumstances, and then only because of curiosity and a thirst for adventure.

In 1818 Congress finally established a permanent Medical Department with a Surgeon General at its head, although neither he nor the surgeons and assistant surgeons under him held military rank. By 1840 the military surgeons had a standardized uniform and their pay was approaching that of the line officers. Although they were commissioned, they still held no military rank and were not entitled to salutes. This indistinct status was clarified in February 1847, when Congress granted official rank to medical personnel. From this point forward there would be a distinction between the military surgeons and their civilian colleagues, but their roles would often merge and their military functions were frequently indistinguishable.

The contract surgeon was the most prevalent manifestation of civilians serving the AMEDD in the 19th century. These civilian doctors were hired to fill shortages throughout the medical system, often with service at isolated frontier posts or other austere locations. Field commanders were authorized to hire contract surgeons as needed to provide adequate medical care for their units. Their numbers rose steadily over the ensuing years, and during the Civil War more than 5,500 civilian doctors served with the Medical Department. Many of these contract surgeons performed heroically in action with the units they supported. Perhaps the most striking example is the story of Mary Walker, a contract surgeon who served at Bull Run, Chickamauga, Richmond, and Atlanta, and spent time as a prisoner of war. In 1865 Dr. Walker became the first woman to receive the Medal of Honor, and she did it as a civilian in the Army Medical Department. To this day she remains the only female recipient of the award.

At the end of the 19th century the Army continued to augment its regular medical force with civilian doctors, nurses, dentists, veterinarians, and purveyors serving under contract. Contract medical personnel served in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines during the Spanish-American War, and when Surgeon General George Sternberg appointed Major Walter Reed to chair a commission investigating yellow fever, he staffed the commission with three contract surgeons. These civilian researchers—Aristides Agramonte, James Carroll, and Jesse W. Lazear—traveled to Cuba with Reed and studied the deadly disease to determine how it was transmitted. Everyone involved in the research was exposed to disease risks, and Lazear died after allowing himself to be bitten by an infected mosquito. Their work proved that yellow fever was transmitted by mosquitoes, and led to sanitation and preventive medicine policies that saved countless lives around the world.

The 20th century ushered in significant changes in the structure of the Army Medical Department. At the turn of the century the AMEDD was comprised of only two corps, the Medical Corps and the Hospital Corps (precursor to the AMEDD Enlisted Corps). Hundreds of civilian contract nurses had been in service during the Spanish-American War, and in 1901 they traded their contracts for commissions with the creation of the Army Nurse Corps. The contract dentists followed suit with the creation of the Dental Corps in 1911, then the Veterinary Corps in 1916 and the Sanitary Corps (later Medical Service Corps) in 1917. By this time, with five officer corps, plus a Medical Reserve Corps (civilian physicians who had agreed to serve in time of need) and a corps of enlisted Soldiers, most contract medical positions had been converted to active military status. However, this did not eliminate the need for civilian augmentation to the AMEDD. When the United States entered World War I, the AMEDD was woefully small and inadequate for the colossal task of supporting over four million troops in a distant war. The majority of the vast surge in medical manpower was filled through the Medical Reserve Corps, but the scope of the required growth necessitated hiring more than 80 contract surgeons. Army hospitals were typically staffed with civilians in a wide variety of positions, including unique specialties and new practice fields that had not yet been fielded in the active force. Civilian reconstruction aides (later termed physical therapists and occupational therapists), dieticians, x-ray technicians, and other medical specialists helped bring state-of-the-art medicine to the Soldiers. A number of Civil Service personnel, including psychologists, also aided in screening new recruits and draftees.


The Poet Laureate of the South: Margaret Junkin Preston


Margaret Junkin Preston (19 May 1820 - 28 March 1897), poet and writer, was born in Milton, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Rev. George Junkin and Julia Rush Miller. A Presbyterian minister, her father was called to Easton, Pennsylvania, in 1832 to assume the presidency of the newly established Lafayette College. As a child, Margaret was tutored by members of the Lafayette faculty as well as her parents. Dr. Junkin became president of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in 1841; three years later, he returned to Lafayette. In 1848, having accepted the presidency of Washington College (later Washington and Lee University), he moved his family to Lexington, Virginia.

Training her eyes by sewing and reading, Margaret Junkin had seriously impaired her vision by the time she was twenty-one. Nevertheless, after the move to Lexington, she began to publish poems and stories in newspapers and magazines. In 1856, she published anonymously Silverwood: A Book of Memories, a novel that satirized the emphasis Virginians placed on ancestry. The following year, she married Major John T. L. Preston a widower with seven children, who helped found the Virginia Military Institute and taught Latin there. Margaret's sister Eleanor married Major Thomas Jonathan Jackson, later famous as "Stonewall" Jackson, who was professor of mathematics at the Institute. Margaret and John Preston later had two sons of their own.

Preston's family, like many others, was divided by the Civil War. Dr. Junkin was forced to resign the presidency of Washington College in 1861 because of his Unionist sympathies. Although Major Preston opposed secession, he went along with Virginia and served under Stonewall Jackson; Margaret Preston shared his political views. Espousing the southern cause, she wrote some of the most popular verse in the Confederacy.

In the intervals between housekeeping duties, Preston kept a wartime diary, which became the basis for her second book, Beechenbrook: A Rhyme of the War. Her husband, now a colonel, had an edition of 2,000 copies printed in Richmond in 1865. Most of this edition was destroyed during the burning of Richmond. The work sold over 7,000 copies when it was republished in Baltimore in 1866. After the war, the Prestons were reunited. John Preston returned to his professorship at the Virginia Military Institute, a position he held until his retirement in 1882. During Reconstruction, Margaret Preston continued to combine the roles of housewife, mother, and poet. She published poems and reviews in southern magazines and newspapers and even in such northern magazines as Lippincott's.

Margaret's tribute to 'Stonewall'
Jackson. A Sonnet

Thank God for such a Hero!--
Fearless hold
His diamond character beneath the sun,
And brighter scintillations, one by one,
Come flashing from it. Never knight of old
Wore on serener brow, so calm, yet bold,
Diviner courage: never martyr knew
Trust more sublime,--nor patriot, zeal more true,--
Nor saint, self-abnegation of a mould
Touched with profounder beauty.
All the rare,
Clear, starry points of light, that
gave his soul
Such lambent lustre, owned but one sole aim,--
Not for himself, nor yet his country's fame,
These glories shone: he kept the clustered whole
A jewel for the crown that Christ shall wear!

Thoracic Surgery in the Civil War

Excerpted from: U.S. Army Medical Department, Office of Medical History

Of a total of 253,142 wounds recorded in the Civil War, 20,607 (8.1 percent) involved the chest, and 8,715 of these (42.3 percent) were penetrating wounds (5). The overall case fatality rate for chest wounds was 27.8 percent and for penetrating chest wounds 62.6 percent. A number of cases were reported in which complete recovery followed gunshot wounds of both lungs. A number of recoveries were also reported after penetrating gunshot fractures of the sternum, apparently because the causative missiles were of low velocity.

In 1863, Assistant Surgeon Benjamin Howard recommended to Brig. Gen. William A. Hammond, The Surgeon General, that penetrating wounds of the chest in which suppuration had not occurred should be managed by removal of all foreign bodies; control of bleeding; paring of the edges of the wound; closure by metallic sutures; and the application of an airtight dressing, so that the wound would be hermetically sealed. In this recommendation, the implications of the physiology of chest wounds, their mechanics, and the principles of wound suppuration and wound healing were all overlooked. Because of failure to realize that sealing the wound hermetically was only part of the problem, infection was common, and a high case fatality rate was inevitably associated with this type of treatment.

Pneumothorax is mentioned in the Civil War history a number of times but apparently seldom reached an alarming stage. Tension pneumothorax is mentioned only a half dozen times.
Hemothorax, either alone or in combination with pneumothorax, was recognized as a dangerous complication, particularly because of the extreme dyspnea often associated with it. Early in the war, it was believed that the surest way to arrest bleeding was by bleeding the casualty further. In the Confederate Manual used during the war, however, venesection was described as a time-honored absurdity, and it is doubtful that it was ever practiced by any Confederate surgeon. The routine plan, when hemothorax was present, was to try to identify the bleeding point, control it, and then employ such general measures as cold acidulated drinks together with the administration of digitalis or opium. It was recognized that if the hemothorax was not absorbed, empyema would result.

Thoracentesis was used to relieve the effects of effusions resulting from acute and chronic pleurisy or from "traumatic pneumonia" (a term used to indicate infected hematoma, atelectasis, lung abscess, and other infectious sequelae). This method was not used, as in World War II, to evacuate hemothoraces and promote rapid expansion of the lung.

Operation was sometimes necessary to control bleeding from the great vessels. The usual procedure was to ligate only the proximal end of the vessel, and it is not surprising that there were no recoveries in wounds of the axillary artery, though there were 5 survivals in 25 casualties with wounds of the subclavian artery.

Four recoveries were recorded in gunshot wounds of the heart. Patients with wounds of the pericardium sometimes languished for several weeks with suppurative processes, but, in one series of 51 cases, there were 22 recoveries. It was noted that extreme dyspnea might accompany a wound of the heart because of intrapericardial pressure, which could be relieved by paracentesis.

Wounds of the esophagus are not specifically mentioned in the Civil War history, but a disproportionate amount of space is given to descriptions of hernia of the lung. Such hernias, it was stated, were extremely uncommon among British casualties at Waterloo as well as in the Crimean War. One case, described in detail, was managed by the technique first described by Tolandus of Parma in 1449 (1) and used successfully by Whittemore (6) in 1929 on nine patients. This technique, which amounts to a two-stage lobectomy, consists of creation of a hernia of the lung, followed by excision of the protrusion after adhesions have formed.



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