Friday, July 16, 2010


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V. Civil War Medical Personnel

Civil War medical personnel included:

Military: Surgeons, Assistant Surgeons, & soldiers detailed as Hospital Stewards and Orderlies (during battles, Musicians served as stretcher-bearers)

Civilian: Contract surgeons, nurses, hospital stewards, druggists, matrons, cooks, laundresses, and manual laborers (both sides employed some black persons as cooks, laundresses, and manual laborers)

VI. Training of Doctors at the Time of the Civil War

Doctors of that era trained in one of two ways:

1. By apprenticing themselves to a practicing doctor. Doctors trained in this way could only be as good as the doctor who trained them, as there were no licensing boards to guarantee their medical knowledge and surgical skills.

2. Attend a medical school. This involved two years of schooling. Each year consisted of a six-month course of study- the second year was an exact repeat of the first year’s coursework! Prospective new doctors generally had no surgical experience, beyond observation of operations.

VII. Doctors in the Armies of the U. S. A. and the C. S. A.

When the Civil War began, there were 115 doctors in the regular army who took care of the army’s 15,000 soldiers. 27 of these men resigned their commissions toenter the Army of the C.S.A. Thus, both the U.S.A. and the C.S.A. began the war with fewer than 100 doctors to care for their armies.

By war’s end, the U.S. Army had more than 13,000 doctors in the field and in its general hospitals; the Army of the C.S.A. at its height had approximately 3,300 doctors serving its cause in the field and in general hospitals like Chimborazo in Richmond, Virginia.

Tom Pearson, Reference Librarian
Special Collections Department
St. Louis Public Library
1301 Olive Street
St. Louis, MO 63103

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