Surgeon in Blue: Jonathan Letterman, the Civil War Doctor Who Pioneered Battlefield Care

By Scott McGaugh

Jonathan Letterman was once an outpost scientific officer serving in Indian kingdom within the years sooner than the Civil warfare, liable for the care of simply 1000s of fellows. but if he was once appointed the executive clinical officer for the military of the Potomac, he revolutionized wrestle medication over the process 4 significant battles—Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg—that produced exceptional numbers of casualties. He made battlefield survival attainable by way of growing the 1st prepared ambulance corps and a more advantageous box clinic procedure. He imposed scientific professionalism on a chaotic battlefield. the place earlier than 20 percentage of the lads have been not worthy to struggle due to disorder, squalid stipulations, and negative foodstuff, he more desirable healthiness and strive against readiness by way of pioneering hygiene and nutrition criteria. according to unique study, and with stirring money owed of conflict and the fight to invent and provide sufficient care in the course of very unlikely stipulations, this new biography recounts Letterman’s lifestyles from his small-town Pennsylvania beginnings to his trailblazing wartime years and his next existence as a wildcatter and the medical expert of San Francisco. ultimately, this is the lacking portrait of a key determine of Civil warfare background and armed forces medication. His ideas of battlefield care remain taught to army commanders and primary responders.

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15 They wrote: We show now not the feelings of clinical officials in basic terms; we provide the opinion of army Commanders, once we confirm that not just the impressive kingdom of health and wellbeing, yet in nice degree the tone, the vigour, and partly the self-discipline of this military, is because of the effective officer on the head of its scientific division. after we distinction this military at the moment, with what it was once whilst health professional Letterman assumed the cost of its scientific division, whilst the tide of fellows flowing to the rear depleted its ranks, as a result of a lax procedure of discharges, or no method in any respect, and as a result of an unchecked license of granting passes to hospitals; after we examine the provisions now made for the wounded with what they have been prior to his time, we can't support congratulating the military and the rustic upon the switch, and can't forbear bringing on your detect the advantage of the officer to whom that adjust is due. We may well seek historical past in useless for campaigns of equivalent severity, for battles of equivalent value, with these of this military for the earlier eighteen months, and we problem heritage to supply a conflict in which the loads of wounded were so good and so speedily cared for, because the hundreds of thousands within the nice battles of this military. sixteen Letterman’s supporters sought extra senior ranks for scientific administrators, past that of significant and on a par with different division heads. It wasn’t till 1865 that Congress acquiesced. Letterman’s paintings had vastly more advantageous the general public belief of the army’s clinical division. Blistering early-war feedback of the wounded mendacity deserted at Bull Run for days were changed by means of expanding attractiveness and recognize of clinical division reforms. Letterman had overhauled battlefield care, countless numbers of army hospitals were outfitted, and the scientific division had developed to a degree of army association that had now not existed on the outset of the battle. In early 1864, a Philadelphia newspaper reporter wrote: “We have alluded to this topic so that the chums and relations of these who're now imperiling their lives in defence (sic) in their state can have a few suggestion of what's performed via a humane and bountiful executive for the comfort of these who fall in its battles; and they may perhaps leisure effortless within the convinced coverage that there's a division of the govt which takes care of the wounded and the in poor health with the maximum care, and gives for all their wishes. ”17 regardless of growing to be acceptance for those accomplishments, a key best friend who had made Letterman’s reforms attainable, general practitioner normal William Hammond, had noticeable his political inventory plummet. After Stanton had despatched Hammond on his vast travel of western clinical amenities in September 1863, Stanton’s investigative committee did its appointed paintings. Hammond’s allies feared the worst, in response to rising rumors of what the research could display. a number of weeks earlier than Letterman requested for his move, on December 6, 1863,The long island instances previewed the committee’s not-yet-published investigative file: “.

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