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Appendix B: personnel of the medical Department of the Federal Army

Major E. L. Munson, M. D., U. S.A.
The surgeons from civil life entered the military service with varying status. At the outbreak of the war, the militia forces responding to the call of the President had one surgeon and one assistant surgeon with each regiment, in which they were commissioned as part of the regimental organization and from which they were seldom detached. They were commissioned by the governors of the several States, of whose military organizations they were a part. In the State troops later organized, professional assistance was similarly provided. But the need for additional medical men to help perform the tremendous administrative duties of the Medical Department was recognized, and volunteer medical officers were appointed medical directors of division, under the President's proclamation of May 3, 1861; while one surgeon was specified as part of the staff of each brigade of the force of five hundred thousand men authorized by the act of Congress of July 22, 1861. These staff-surgeons held the rank of major, commissioned by the President, and held equal rank and duties and possessed equal prerogatives with the members of the regular Medical Department, whether as medical directors of armies, corps, or departments, or in charge of hospitals. Besides the above, there was a class designated as acting assistant surgeons, who. were civilian physicians, uncommissioned, serving under contract to do service in the field or in the hospitals.

Under the act of Congress of August 3, 1861, there was ‘added to the medical staff of the army a corps of medical cadets, whose duty it shall be to act as dressers in the general hospitals and as ambulance attendants in the field, under the direction and control of the medical officers alone. They shall have the same rank and pay as the military cadets at West Point.’This same act also authorized the employment in general hospitals of such number of female nurses as might be indicated by the surgeon-general or the surgeons in charge.

During the years of the war the organization of the Medical Department of the regular army was increased so as to number one surgeon-general, one assistant surgeon-general, one medical inspector-general, sixteen medical inspectors, and one hundred and seventy surgeons and assistant surgeons. There were appointed 547 surgeons and assistant surgeons of volunteers. In addition, there were mustered into the service 2109 regimental surgeons and 3882 regimental assistant surgeons. During the same period there were employed under contract 85 acting staff-surgeons, and 5532 acting assistant surgeons. Even considering that some of these may have occupied several different positions, it is probable that, in round numbers, no less than ten thousand medical men gave direct assistance to the Northern forces during the war.

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Edward L. Munson (1)
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August 3rd, 1861 AD (1)
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