Thesis ID: CBB754144784

"Fightin' Johnnies, Fevers, and Mosquitos": A Medical History of the Vicksburg Campaign (2018)

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In late spring of 1863, with New Orleans and Memphis firmly in Union control, the river town of Vicksburg, Mississippi was all that stood between the Union Army and its unobstructed use of the Mississippi River. Situated nearly 200 feet above the river’s surface and surrounded by a series of fortifications that used the regions’ natural geography to guard road, railway, and river traffic, the city seemed almost impregnable. Indeed, it had been during the last three Union assaults. Nevertheless, on April 30, 1863 Major General Ulysses S. Grant launched his final assault against the city. What followed is one of the best studied military campaigns of the Civil War. This work is a medical history of that campaign. As such, it integrates themes regarding soldiers’ health, medical care, and medical professionalism with a traditional campaign narrative. In doing so, this study illustrates that health and medicine dominated army life in the field. It also demonstrates that concerns over soldier’s health and medical care strained the relationships forged between soldiers, line officers, and members of the medical corps. These tensions not only affected the way soldiers, officers, and surgeons interacted on the battlefield, but also shaped the way soldiers’ remembered their combat experience. Because historians have traditionally relied on soldiers’ accounts to reconstruct battlefield narratives, these tensions have influenced the historical narrative, often portraying Civil War surgeons as incompetent, ignorant, and power-hungry. However, by emphasizing the United States Army Medical Corps’ participation in the Vicksburg Campaign, this dissertation argues that Civil War medical care, though limited, was efficient, and that the medical corps bore more responsibility for the Union Army’s successes—and failures—than previously thought.

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Citation URI
http://data.isiscb.org/isis/citation/CBB754144784/

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Authors & Contributors
Hasegawa, Guy R.
Schmidt, James M.
Lowry, Thomas P.
Smith, William Mervale
Smith, George Winston
Wooley, Charles F.
Journals
Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography
Vesalius
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Journal of Military History
The Journal of the Civil War Era
History of Psychiatry
Publishers
Johns Hopkins University Press
Stackpole Books
Pharmaceutical Products Press (Haworth Press)
Ashgate
Edinborough Press
University of Virginia Press
Concepts
Medicine and the military; medicine in war
Medicine
Surgery
Physicians; doctors
Disease and diseases
Hospitals and clinics
People
Letterman, Johnathan
Lincoln, Abraham
Places
United States
Virginia (U.S.)
North Carolina (U.S.)
Pennsylvania (U.S.)
Southern states (U.S.)
Times
19th century
20th century, early
Institutions
United States. Army
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