Thesis ID: CBB754144784

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


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.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Book Meier, Kathryn Shively; (2013)
Nature's Civil War: Common Soldiers and the Environment in 1862 Virginia (/isis/citation/CBB001421767/) unapi

Article Dyde, Sean; (2011)
The Chief Seat of Mischief: Soldier's Heart in the First World War (/isis/citation/CBB001034268/) unapi

Book Smith, William Mervale; Lowry, Thomas P.; (2001)
Swamp Doctor: The Diary of a Union Surgeon in the Virginia and North Carolina Marshes (/isis/citation/CBB000102057/) unapi

Thesis Schurr, Nancy; (2004)
Inside the Confederate Hospital: Community and Conflict during the Civil War (/isis/citation/CBB001561808/) unapi

Book Hilde, Libra Rose; (2012)
Worth a Dozen Men: Women and Nursing in the Civil War South (/isis/citation/CBB001200639/) unapi

Article Tuten, James H.; (2011)
“A Remarkable Case”: A Surgeon's Letter to the Huntington County Globe (/isis/citation/CBB001200545/) unapi

Book Schmidt, James M.; Hasegawa, Guy R.; (2009)
Years of Change and Suffering: Modern Perspectives on Civil War Medicine (/isis/citation/CBB001031552/) unapi

Article Mast, Brian J.; (2011)
Dr. Benjamin Rohrer's Artifact Collection (/isis/citation/CBB001200544/) unapi

Book Humphreys, Margaret; (2013)
Marrow of Tragedy: The Health Crisis of the American Civil War (/isis/citation/CBB001213174/) unapi

Book P. Willey; Douglas D. Scott; (2015)
Health of the Seventh Cavalry: A Medical History (/isis/citation/CBB550184309/) unapi

Book Smith, George Winston; (2001)
Medicines for the Union Army: The United States Army Laboratories during the Civil War (/isis/citation/CBB000102431/) unapi

Book Bell, Andrew McIlwaine; (2010)
Mosquito Soldiers: Malaria, Yellow Fever, and the Course of the American Civil War (/isis/citation/CBB001231808/) unapi

Article Wheeler, Tom; (Winter 2011)
Lincoln's T-mails (/isis/citation/CBB384873309/) unapi

Article Riaud, Xavier; (2008)
Dentisterie pendant la Guerre de Sécession (1861--1865) (/isis/citation/CBB000932485/) unapi

Book Ronald S. Coddington; (2020)
Faces of Civil War Nurses (/isis/citation/CBB377639667/) unapi

Article R Gregory Lande; (2020)
American Civil War medical practice, the post-bellum opium crisis and modern comparisons (/isis/citation/CBB124135559/) unapi

Book McGaugh, Scott; (2013)
Surgeon in Blue: Jonathan Letterman, the Civil War Doctor Who Pioneered Battlefield Care (/isis/citation/CBB001213254/) unapi

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

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment