previous next
[351] support of this contention a statement attributed to President Davis, in Surgeon Craven's ‘Prison Life of Jefferson Davis’ is produced, in which he is reported to have said in conversation with the author, that ‘they had been obliged to accept as surgeons in the Southern army many lads who had only half finished their education in Northern colleges.’

This statement would seem to indicate a scarcity of capable medical men who were willing to serve as such in the Confederate army, while the facts are that many of the infantry and cavalry battalions and regiments, as well as artillery companies, in addition to their usual complement of medical officers, bore on their rolls, either in field and staff, the commissioned officers of the line, or even in rank and file, capable and eminently well-qualified medical men, many of whom were subsequently transferred to the medical corps. The reports from Northern prisons where line officers or enlisted men often assisted the Federal surgeons in the care of the sick, confirm this statement.

It can be said, in all sincerity and confidence in the statement, that the students of the South who graduated from Northern and Southern medical colleges prior to the war between the States, were superior in scholastic attainments and mental qualifications to those of subsequent years. Not only is this the personal observation of the writer, but corroborative thereof are the following quotations from an address by Samuel H. Stout, M. D., late medical director of hospitals of the Department and Army of Tennessee.

When I attended lectures in Philadelphia more than half a century ago, the number of students in the two schools there (the University, and the Jefferson) was a little more than one thousand, more than half of whom were from the Southern States. Of these latter, a majority were bachelors of arts, or had received a classical education. The Southern States in the slaveholding sections were, therefore, prior to the war well supplied with educated and chivalrously honorable surgeons and physicians. Such were the men who served at the bedside and in responsible positions in the medical corps of the armies and navy of the Confederacy.

The Southern practitioner, vol. XXIV, p. 437.

Finally, Samuel P. Moore, M. D., in an address delivered at Richmond, Virginia, October 19, 1865, published in the city papers of the following day, said, ‘The Confederate medical officers were inferior to none in any army’; and in another paragraph: ‘Although there were many capital medical men in the medical corps, yet, from the easy manner by which commissions were obtained for medical officers appointed to regiments, many were supposed not to be properly qualified. It was therefore deemed advisable to establish army medical boards for the examination of medical officers already in service, as well as applicants for commission into the medical corps. These boards were to hold plain, practical examinations. The result was highly satisfactory.’

In Tennessee, more than one instance can be mentioned where a good and well-qualified practitioner, on application to Governor Harris for a position in the medical corps, was by him urgently and earnestly advised and entreated to remain at home, as he would be needed there, because, as quite a number of his colleagues were to be found in the rank and file of the assembling soldiery, in addition to a full complement in the medical corps, the old men, the women and children, and the slaves at home must be cared for as well as the ‘boys’ in the army. This measure prevailed in other States, and in only a few instances of rare emergency, that could not by any means have been avoided, and then only for a brief period, was there any dearth or scarcity of medical officers in the Confederate army, in the field or hospital.

Some States began organizing their troops before affiliating with the Confederacy, as in Tennessee. The medical officers received their commissions from the secretary of state, after examinations, both oral and written, by an army medical examining board appointed by the governor of the State. The medical examining board at Nashville was headed by Dr. Paul F. Eve, a teacher of surgery of wide experience, and a surgeon of both national and international reputation. His colleagues were Dr. Joseph Newman, who had served with the Tennessee troops in the war with Mexico, and enjoyed the confidence and esteem of a large clientele in Nashville during the intervening years, and Dr. J. D. Winston, also one of the leading practitioners of the capital city of the State. Boards of like character were serving the western division of the State at Memphis, and at Knoxville, in the eastern. When the State troops, then organized, were transferred to the Confederate States, they were recommissioned by the Secretary of War of the Confederacy, on recommendation of the surgeon-general, after examination and approval by the army medical examining boards of the Confederate army. As other troops were subsequently organized, they were supplied with medical officers who had passed a satisfactory examination before a Confederate army medical

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Jefferson Davis (2)
J. D. Winston (1)
Samuel H. Stout (1)
Joseph Newman (1)
Samuel Preston Moore (1)
Thomas M. Harris (1)
Paul F. Eve (1)
Craven (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
October 19th, 1865 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: