previous next

Dr. Samuel P. Moore.

The Surgeon-General of the Confederate States.

A biographical sketch.

Record of his services in the U. S. And Confederate States armies.

[By Samuel E. Lewis, M. D., Washington, D. C., late Assistant Surgeon, Confederate States Army; First Vice-President of the Association of Medical Officers of the Army and Navy of the Confederate States.]

After the Memphis reunion, General Marcus J. Wright, of the War Records Office, Washington, D. C., was requested to furnish a biographical sketch of the late Surgeon-General of the Confederate States, Samuel Preston Moore, M. D., and he initiated correspondence to that end; but being very much occupied with other literary work, and long aware of the interest which the writer takes in whatever relates to the medical and surgical history of the Confederacy, 18 [274] and the personnel of the medical department, and considering it fitting that the sketch requested should preferably come from a medical officer, turned the accumulated correspondence over to him with the request that he take charge of the subject. The following is mainly a digest of that correspondence, together with such other information as has been obtained from the references hereinafter given and other sources.

Owing to the lamentable fire which occurred on the night of the evacuation of Richmond, April 2, 1865, the records of the office of the surgeon-general were almost completely destroyed or lost; and at the same time, also, the private books and papers of the family of Dr. Moore, which had been moved from his residence to a supposed place of safety in the district of the city afterwards burned, so that it is very difficult to obtain even a meagre account of his life prior to that time.

Birth and education.

Samuel Preston Moore, physician and surgeon, was born in Charleston, S. C.,——, 813; the son of Stephen West and Eleanor Screven (Gilbert) Moore, and grandson of Samuel Preston and Susanna (Pearson) Moore, and was the lineal descendant of Dr. Mordecai Moore, who accompanied, as his physician, Lord Baltimore when he came to this country. By marriage and descent he was intimately connected with the families of Thomas Lloyd, the first Deputy Governor of Pennsylvania under William Penn, and in West Virginia with the Moore, Jackson, Lowndes, and Goff families. He had two brothers in the old United States army—Colonel West Moore, for many years Adjutant-General of Louisiana, and Dr. Charles Lloyd Moore, surgeon.

In June, 1845, he married Mary Augusta Brown, one of the daughters of Major Jacob Brown, United States army, who was killed in the Mexican war in 1846, at the place on the Texas side of the Rio Grande, which has since been known, in honor of him, as Fort Brown, or Brownsville. General Stewart Van Vliet, United States army, married the only other daughter (and child) of Major Brown.

Dr. Moore was educated in Charleston, S. C.; graduated in medicine in 1834; became assistant surgeon in the United States army, March 14, 1835; surgeon (rank of major), April 30, 1849, and resigned February 25, 1861. From the date of his appointment as assistant surgeon he was on active duty at Fort Leavenworth, Fort [275] Des Moines, Fort Gibson, Mo., Fort Coffee, Kan., and numerous forts in Florida, until in 1843 he was stationed at camp Barrancas, Pensacola harbor, where he became acquainted with his future wife, her father being in command of a detail of the Seventh Regiment of United States Infantry, occupying the harbor defences—Forts Pickens and McRae. In the August after his marriage he accompanied his command to Aransas and Corpus Christi, on the Texas boundary, the Neuces river, preparatory to the movement to the Rio Grande, and commencement of the Mexican war. For two years he was at Carmago, on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande.

Having attained his promotion as surgeon at Jefferson Barracks, Mo., he was ordered to duty with the troops which went as advance guard across the plains before the great emigration of 1849, and was en route to, and on duty at, Fort Laramie, Ore., now Wyoming Territory, until August, 1851. In January, 1852, he was again ordered to Texas, under Division Commander General Persifer F. Smith; remaining a few months in San Antonio; thence to duty at Brownsville 'till November, 1854; then to Fort Columbus, Governor's Island, New York harbor, until July, 1855, and thence to the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he remained 'till April, 1860; subsequent to which, 'till his resignation, he was the medical purveyor at New Orleans, La.

Though a great lover of his country and his State, he was not a politician, and was greatly distressed in mind as to where his duty called, at the same time and in like manner with the agitation of the then Colonel Robert E. Lee, of the United States army; but when his State seceded he determined to resign his commission. He retired to Little Rock, Ark., with some intention of making that place his home, but the times were not conducive to repose, and trained officers were urgently required in all departments of the army and navy. Therefore, in response to the persistent appeals of his dearest friends, and from a high sense of duty, he concluded to answer the call made upon him as an officer of recognized merit, by President Davis, and to accept appointment as the surgeon-general, in June, 1861.

He immediately devoted himself with great energy, patience and ability to the enormous work which he saw before him. The medical men of that day in the South were fully the equals in knowledge and skill of their brothers in the other parts of the country, but all were untrained in military practice. They were physicians in civil life, unskilled in surgery and the conduct of hospitals, save to very [276] limited extent. To organize an efficient medical corps in such great emergency from unknown and scattered elements, became his first care. In this he found much difficulty from the fact that many of the most capable of the younger physicians, in the ardor of the time and from various causes, sought distinction in the ranks, and as officers of commands, in the hope of more rapidly acquiring military fame. And as was the case in the other departments, there was in this one, great lack of the requisite stores, raw and manufactured, for field and hospital. Severed in every direction from the rest of the world of supplies by powerful armies and fleets, and by the early proclamations of the enemy declaring all medicines and surgical instruments, books and appliances contraband of war, the medical department was constrained to seek in its own forests and fields such substitutes as could be found for the more reliable medicines, and to build and establish laboratories for converting them into pharmaceutical preparations in large quantities, and arrange them in convenient packages for wide distribution and use; to improvise and manufacture by unskilled artisans, and the scanty means at hand, such surgical instruments and appliances as their necessity required and ingenuity could invent, which could not be procured from the so-called underground railroad of the time, the occasional blockade runners, and the success of our brave soldiers in the field in capturing stores from the enemy, and to select appropriate sites and organize hospitals, etc. Such, in part, were the problems which fell to him to solve.

The Confederate Surgeon.

It has been reliably stated that there were in the scantily-clothed and foorly-fed Confederate army and navy about 1,000 surgeons and 2,000 assistant surgeons, without proper medicines and surgical instruments and appliances to care for an army consisting, from first to last, of 600,000 troops, in deadly warfare with 2,859,132 troops of the United States army, supplied with the most modern equipments and arms, the most abundant clothing and food, and all that science and art could furnish in medicine and surgery.

It is estimated that more than 3,000,000 cases of wounds and disease was cared for by the medical corps of the Confederate army and navy during the war. It is also reliably stated that the whole number of Federal prisoners captured by the Confederates and held in southern prisons from the first to the last was in round numbers 270,000; while the whole number of Confederates captured and held [277] in the Federal prisons was in like round numbers but 220,000; that of the former there were 22,570 deaths, and of the latter 26,436 deaths; a difference in favor of the Confederates of 3,866, notwithstanding the 50,000 excess in our hands. Thus the percentage of deaths in Confederate prisons was about 8 3-10, while that in the Federal prisons was 12, a difference of about 37-10 per cent. in favor of the Confederates.

Such, in brief, was the work to which Dr. Moore gave anxious thought and ceaseless labor, and developed and conducted under the most embarrassing and discouraging circumstances to marvelous discipline, efficiency, and resourcefulness.

Association formed.

Under the auspices of the surgeon-general, in August, 1863, a large number of surgeons assembled in the Medical College of Virginia, at Richmond, and organized the ‘Association of Army and Navy Surgeons of the Confederate States,’ by the adoption of a constitution and the election of the following officers:

Samuel P. Moore, M. D., president; J. B. McCaw, M. D., first vice-president; D. Conrad, M. D., Confederate States navy, second vice-president; W. A. Davis, M. D., first recording secretary; W. A. Thom, M. D., second recording secretary; M. Michel, M. D., first corresponding secretary; S. Jenkins, M. D., second corresponding secretary, and J. S. Wilson, M. D., treasurer.

It was also through his aid and encouragement that the most excellent ‘Confederate States Medical and Surgical Journal’ came into existence, and was conducted to the end of the war; and he directed the preparation of a collection of papers entitled ‘A Manual of Military Surgery,’ intended more especially for officers in the field, and to treat of but few of the diseases incident to the camp and hospital, reserving only such as are more intimately connected with gunshot wounds and operations, as Shock, Tetanus, Hospital Gangrene, Pyaemia, etc. It is accompanied by a careful selection of lithographs of amputations, ligations, resections, etc.

He continued to reside in Richmond after the war, not actively engaged in the practice of his profession, but giving the benefit of his extensive knowledge and experience to educational and other institutions, having the welfare of the community in view.

He was a member of the R. E. Lee Camp of Confederate Veterans, of Richmond; of the Executive Board of the Virginia Agricultural [278] Society, and of the Richmond School Board; was chosen president of the Association of Medical and Surgical Officers of the Army and Navy of the Confederate States, at Atlanta, Ga., May 25, 1874, and was elected one of the vice-presidents of the Section of Military and Naval Surgery in the ninth International Congress, 1887.

He died at his residence, No. 202 West Grace street, Richmond, Va., May 31, 1889, and was buried in Hollywood cemetery.

In person he was above medium stature well formed, erect, and of soldierly bearing; regular, handsome features, not austere, but subdued by thought and studious habits. With acquaintances he was genial, having a pleasant brightness and a keen, but harmless, wit. In official life a strict disciplinarian, but appreciative of faithful service. He was always extremely modest in referring to his own work, and only alluded to it at comparatively long intervals and upon the most intimate occasions.

That he spared not himself the best testimony is the high renown he won for himself and his faithful corps with the medical world, which has justified the wisdom of his selection for the duties imposed upon him, and also by the loving regard felt for him in recognition and appreciation of his services, by all the people of his beloved Southland.

His family.

His widow, Mary Augusta (Brown) Moore, survives him, residing (June 17, 1901) with her son-in-law, Howard R. Bayne, a prominent counsellor at law, in New York city.

The children are as follows:

Preston Brown Moore (deceased) married Maria Pendleton Steger, of Richmond, Va. Issue: I. Mary Preston Moore, married Galloupe Morton (deceased); issue: Charles I. Morton. Issue II: Dr. Charles Lloyd Moore, unmarried.

Lizzie Strong Moore, married (April 27, 1886) Howard R. Bayne, Issue: I. Samuel Preston Moore Bayne, died October 7, 1887; II. Mary Ashby Moore Bayne; III. Lloyd Moore Bayne.

references.—The reports of the surgeon-generals of the United Confederate Veterans—viz: Joseph Jones, M. D., of New Orleans, La., and C. H. Tebault, M. D., of New Orleans, La.; the Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. II, page 125; Vol. XVII, page 12; Vol. XX, page 109; the Medical and Surgical Journal of the Con- [279] federate States; the Rise and fall of the Confederate States Government, Vol. I, page 310; the Richmond Dispatch, June 1, 1889; the Surgeon-General's office, Washington, D. C.

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 Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: