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Surgeons of the Union armies: monotonous heroism the army doctor in the rear

The upper photograph shows the surgeons' headquarters of the third division hospital, Ninth Army Corps, in front of Petersburg in August, 1864. Not all of the ten thousand medical officers in the service of the Union armies were regularly enlisted, but some were civilians whose services were engaged for a limited time. The middle photograph shows the surgeons of the second division, Ninth Corps, in front of Petersburg in October, 1864. The actual extent of the work of transportation of sick and wounded of which the surgeons of the Civil War had charge is sufficiently indicated by the fact that, as shown by the official records, the general hospitals alone contained at one time, on December 17, 1864, a total of no less than 83,409 patients, practically all of whom had been returned sick from the front. The men in these photographs can represent only faintly the extent of the gigantic medical organization of which they were merely a small part. Many of the surgeons never got to the front, but served their country faithfully at the rear, watching the slow progress of typhoid and malaria cases. There was much typhoid at City Point on account of the difficulty of obtaining pure water. Nothing except the barest necessities could be brought to the front where large armies were contending. All finally came to realize that the nature and degree of sanitary relief must partake of a compromise except in the well-equipped hospitals in the rear. Besides medical, surgical, and sanitary work, the army surgeon had another important duty of a generally professional nature. Every man who applied for enlistment as a soldier was given a medical examination. During the Civil War a total of 2,859,132 enlistments were credited to the several States and Territories; this number included men who enlisted twice or even a greater number of times. To give the number of individuals who served during the war is not practicable; nor is it important in this connection, since a physical examination was made by the surgeons for each reenlistment as well as enlistment. Besides the above total, some 67,000 men enlisted in the regular army, of whom probably one-third was not credited to any State. All this meant additional work.

Third division, ninth corps, August, 1864

Surgeons of the second division, ninth corps, October, 1864

An army surgeon at City Point Dr. J. M. Gill


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October, 1864 AD (4)
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