Article ID: CBB001550970

“Mortal in This Season”: Union Surgeons and the Narrative of Medical Modernisation in the American Civil War (2014)


The impact of the American Civil War on medical modernisation is increasingly being recognised, yet the ways in which the Civil War challenged and changed doctors' understanding of their professional role during the war remains underappreciated. By juxtaposing Union doctors' personal and professional responses to the Civil War with the wider public reaction to Union medical care, this paper explores the tensions that arose between the public and the professional perceptions of medicine as these developed on the battlefields of the nation's internecine conflict. It argues that the intersection between the positive and negative narratives of Union medical provision, specifically surgery, established an important discursive space within which Union doctors could negotiate their public and professional status. It finds that the negative narrative, far from a hindrance, was instrumental to the process of medical modernisation by enabling Union physicians to define, defend and develop a more modern medical role.

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Authors & Contributors
Roper, John Herbert
Douglas D. Scott
Apperson, John Samuel
Clayman, Jason
Gretz, Peter
Lowry, Thomas P.
Bulletin of the History of Medicine
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography
Journal of the History of Dentistry
Mercer University Press
Stackpole Books
Pharmaceutical Products Press (Haworth Press)
Random House
University of Virginia Press
Medicine and the military; medicine in war
Physicians; doctors
Hospitals and clinics
Wilder, Burt Green
Letterman, Johnathan
United States
Virginia (U.S.)
North Carolina (U.S.)
Pennsylvania (U.S.)
Southern states (U.S.)
Massachusetts (U.S.)
19th century
20th century, early
United States. Army

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